Her scream was sudden. As if something sharp clamped down on her leg. I was out of bed and at her door in seconds, even though she’d never know I was there.
I watched her thrash about for a minute and debated whether it was a nightmare or a terror. The behavior started out the same for both. She’d shriek in a demanding tone and throw her body around the bed. She’d often hit her head on the railing or jam her arm. And then scream louder from the pain.
At that point if it was a nightmare, she’d cry for me specifically. By the time I’d reach her bed I could coax her out of her sleep. “A crocodile took my Grovey away” or “I looked for you but you weren’t there.” Then I’d walk her around the house to get a bite to eat, or something to drink. Keep her out of bed just long enough to make sure she didn’t slip back into the same dream. Which she often did anyway.
Night terrors were harder. She didn’t scream anything coherent. Just wails of fear and pain. Usually I’d find her flat on her back, but every once and a while she’d sit up in her bed or walk around her room. Closing the basement door became part of my nighttime routine.
Last night was a bad one. She stretched across her bed and whipped her head from side to side. She kicked her blankets off and slammed her body against the mattress again and again. Then she called for me, which made me think it was a nightmare. I sat down on the bed, touched her face, reassured her that I was there and asked what was wrong. Her body went still. She looked right at me; her expression darkened, as if I made her turn off her movie before it ended. My voice agitated her. She swatted my hand away and resumed thrashing.
It made my stomach hurt that she was that scared and didn’t know I was with her.
My husband came in the room and after several minutes of soft whispers and attempted hugs, got her to her feet. She stood for a minute and then her head started to roll back. She dropped to her knees, felt around for the floor, pressed her stomach on the carpet and started kicking and screaming again. We put her back on her bed and let her continue.
I watched her from the door to make sure that she didn’t hurt herself. After ten or so minutes she rolled over and quieted down. I crept in, slipped Grovey under her arm and covered them both. That way if she woke up, she wouldn’t feel scared. Not for a minute.