The Nightmare


The rain was pounding on the window, and it was this that woke Max. He was scared of the rain, but there was something else that scared him more. The nightmare.

The turning wheel.

The sweat still clung on to his face as he groped around in the dark for his glasses. They were on his bedside table, he knew it.

It was perhaps unreasonable to expect a four-year old boy not to be scared of a nightmare.

So he screamed into the night. Screamed till his parents from the next room came rushing to his aid, screamed till he was safe in his mother's arms, watching his father pace the room. Yes, the wheel can't get him now, not with his father standing guard and his mother's arms around him.

"What happened, Max? Another nightmare?"
His mother's voice warmed him, even when the drenched clothes were sticking to him.
"Yes Ma, the wheel... it was coming again Ma..."
"Shhh... Max its okay. We're here now"
His face got buried in his mother's lap once more.

"Son, you gotta be brave. For me. Can you do that? For your Dad?"
"Yes, Dad. I'm brave", said his mother's lap.
He had to pretend to be brave again. Even if he knew he was scared inside...

A year passed. Max still saw the wheel. It still began to turn sometimes.

He was past the stage of crying into his mother's lap now. Past the stage of pretending to be brave and actually be brave. He was, after all, five years old. One whole hand.

The nightmare returned again. On a summer night, when the windows were thrown wide open, when he was alone at home. The wheel stood motionless, then it turned, slowly, gathering speed...

The doorbell rang. "Mum, Dad, you're back!"

He unlatched the door to find himself staring at his uncle, with a policeman behind him. He could barely see the crashed car behind them, as though it belonged to a different time, a different place.

“Max, you have to be brave. Your parents had an accident. They… they’re not coming back. I’m sorry… you have to be brave Max…”

His Uncle’s hollow voice shook the shattered glass of the broken car. His tears rolled down his cheeks, dampening the “W” of Welcome. The rest were untouched.

The funeral happened the next morning. His parents missed it, as they were sleeping in wooden boxes lined with fluffy pillows.

His mother’s lap looked so comfortable. He wished he could bury into it again.

His father looked brave, even as he slept. He wasn’t scared of the darkness or the tunnel underground.

The wooden boxes swallowed his parents and the earth swallowed the boxes. It was time to return.

He sat in the car, the doors slammed shut. The engine throbbed to life

The wheels turned…