Restless nights

Jill had no idea what woke her up every night. She lived alone, not even a cat for company. But every night, without fail, she woke up positive that something had happened. It wasn’t the same time every night, so she was fairly certain it wasn’t something simple like a street-sweeper or scheduled train. No, she thought it was something far more complicated. Perhaps even sinister.

Jill’s co-workers were beginning to notice the bags under her eyes and her grumpy, tired nature. Several asked if there was something wrong, but Jill couldn’t tell them anything, other than she was tired. None of her colleagues would understand. But Jill thought she knew someone who might.

One afternoon, just after Jill got off work, she stopped by a neighbor’s house. Jared had been her neighbor for nearly twenty years. They were very good friends. Jill asked Jared to come spend the night at her house, watching to see if he could find out what kept waking her up.

Jared talked it over with his partner and they agreed that Jared would sit up with Jill for the night, keeping watch. The friends decided to meet up at Jill’s house at ten pm.

Jared knocked on Jill’s door at 9:58, refreshed from the nap he’d taken and ready to stay up all night. He was just as concerned about Jill’s sleep as she was.

Jared took a seat in the comfortable, overstuffed chair in the corner of Jill’s bedroom while Jill climbed into bed. There was a glass of water and a favorite book under the glowing lamp on the table next to him. He settled in for the watch.

Jill chatted with Jared for a few minutes but exhaustion was quickly overtaking her. She fell asleep not long after she settled into her large bed.

Jared watched for a few minutes, making sure his friend was asleep, then he opened his book. He waited for something to happen that would wake his sleeping neighbor.

A few hours later, a noise intruded on his reading. Jared looked up from his book, gazing around the bedroom. Jill was still sleeping, but her restlessness told Jared that she was going to wake soon.

Movement in the mirror on Jill’s dresser caught Jared’s eye. He looked closer, trying to make out the scene he was seeing.

In the mirror, Jill was running. Gigantic, multi-colored balls were bouncing around, constrained by the dimensions of the glassy surface. Jill dodged and weaved, trying to avoid the monstrous rubber balls that chased her. Her mouth was open, silent screams for help. Closer and closer she came to the edge of the mirror, but every time she seemed about to escape, a ball crashed and changed her course.

Jared watched, fascinated. From the corner of his eye, he could see the real Jill, in her bed, tossing and turning, mimicking the movements she made in the mirror. Worried about her, Jared moved toward the bed, keeping his eyes on the mirror.

He reached out a trembling hand, intending to wake his friend, but just before he touched her a brilliant yellow and blue-striped ball bounced into the mirror-Jill, throwing her into the mirror.

When the mirror-Jill hit the glass, the sleeping Jill screamed and sat upright.

“Jared? Did you…did you figure it out?”

Jared, staring from Jill to the mirror and back again, “You’re not going to believe this…”

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