Seven by D.I. Jolly
Bethany sat alone at her desk, sipping tea and impatiently waiting for her dream to fade. It was her least favourite of the ones that reoccurred because it was both the most realistic and the one that took the longest to leave after she woke up. It had started, as far as she could remember, in her adolescences.
Her grandmother had a small silver box which had been gifted to her by a stranger. A mysterious man who had rescued her late one Edinburg night when she was a young girl. In the dream, Bethany became fixated with the box. No matter where she looked, she could see it, feel it pulling her, insisting on her sense like a foul smell until she eventually broke down, ran for the box and opened it. Then her eyes would open and she would be awake. Only the dream would forget to end, the image of the box stayed with her, sometimes for minutes and sometimes for hours.
Today it had followed her to work. The next morning it faded while she took her morning shower. The day after that it sat quietly in the back of her mind until after lunch. Every day for the next week the box haunted her. Whether she was awake or asleep it was there. Until finally she could stand it no more and in a moment of what could have been clarity or insanity, she hopped on a bus and headed to her grandmother’s house. She was determined to take hold of her nightmares and prove them wrong. She would open that bloody box and once and for all see that there was nothing in it.
When her grandmother opened the door, her look of delight quickly faded as she all but whispered.
“You’ve, you’ve come for the box. Haven’t you?”
The words struck Bethany like a slap in the face, how on earth could she have known? What part of her told that story without having to say the words. But she steeled herself and nodded.
“You can’t child, that box has never been opened. It must never be opened.”
Her grandmother took her by the hand and led her into the kitchen, intentionally away from the room where the box sat, hiding in plain sight like an ordinary ornament on a shelf. Once again, her grandmother relayed the story of the man who appeared out of darkness, scared off the drunken men that were accosting her, slipped the silver box into her hand and disappeared. All the while Bethany sat slipping deeper and deeper into her waking nightmare. She realised that she couldn’t tell if she was awake or just reliving the dream. A scream sat like a tickle at the back of the throat, threating to erupt out of her as her mind filled with the image of that box. Everywhere she looked she could see it, sitting patiently waiting for her. It was just one room away. The thought pushed at her, it insisted on her and as her desperation peeked, she burst from her seat and ran for it. With a shaking hand grabbed the thing which, now that she could see it, seemed both insignificant and massive. Sweat ran down her face, her grandmother’s voice echoed behind her and, although shaking with fear, she turned the claps and opened the box.