My Brother Died Twice

I don’t understand why I see the things I do in the middle of the night. I just know that they petrify me. The bits I’ve managed to remember alone terrify me and I’m thankful for what I’ve forgotten.

My brother, almost 3 years my senior, was in a basement with a bullet that had pierced through his stomach. The wound had perforated his body creating a massive crater in the middle of his body. Inactive, silent. Just a gaping, crimson hole. It was as if a massive bullet – a menacing and oversized Bullet Bill – had crashed into his back and with full pressure, thrust itself out the other side. Like a jar of packed jam. The glutton ruining its perfection by scooping the insides with his three plump fingers, licking them voraciously, staring at that gaping, crimson hole, a testament to his greed.

A man, a sacerdotal man, sat beside my brother and tended to his wounds. He was sleeping, somehow alive, perhaps comatose. Stretched out on a makeshift hospital bed in a dim room with pale green walls the color of sickness and despair.

Fade to wakefulness.

My brother, again, sleeping, somehow alive, perhaps comatose. This time, a bullet to his head. This time, I approached the religious man tending to his wound, and angrily yet fearfully exclaimed, “If you don’t save him, I will kill you!” I felt utter desperation. Looking at my brother, being watched by a man of God with no discernible medical training, in an inexplicably puke-green room, no indication as to how my brother became injured or who the other man was – nothing. I was simply in a situation, reacting to it, not understanding it, and experiencing great fear through every second of it.

And somewhere in between everything, my favorite mirror broke. No, shattered. I touched it as I usually do, and it simply fell apart. A thousand little pieces of magnified glass crumbled with the utmost ease while the other side of the mirror was none the wiser to the destruction of its other half.


They say in Lebanon, that if you dream that someone died, you have renewed their life. Last night, my brother died twice. Today, he will live twice more.

© Leila Chammas, December 31, 2016.


A Boxer, a Van, and a Tortoise.

I was standing in an open garage and looked out to the front lawn to see a white plastic table, about 3 feet tall, with a huge tortoise on top of it. It was hidden inside its shell. To the right, a dusty, emerald-green minivan parked at an angle. Not accidentally or with any indication of emergency. Rather, it was parked calmly and eerily with intention at an angle. An aging boxer was remarkably sitting in the driver’s seat, the fur on his face had faded to white around his eyes and jowls.

I walked over to the van and the boxer jumped out of the open window and stood, barking at me. Two cars passed by – one red, one blue. I don’t think there was any significance in the coloring of the vehicles; I just happened to remember them. I tried to coax the dog to approach me so that I might grab his leash. However, in a flash, he had jumped into another car, crashed it into the side of the garage, and was running through the open garage door and into the house, an excessively long leash trailing behind him. Meanwhile the tortoise, still hidden in its shell, had turned itself to face me as I watched, in shock, a dog I could not command run with a speed I could not match, through a house I was not in. Inside, they shrieked and screamed.

I wasn’t afraid of the boxer. I was worried he would get hurt, confused by the tortoise on the plastic table, and mystified by the parked van.

I then woke up, stressed, as I often do.

© Leila Chammas, December 22, 2016.

Cold Shower

Two nights ago, in one of my more benign dreams, I was awake, at home, taking a shower. Everything was normal and, in the moment, there wasn’t any indication of anything about my surroundings being unreal. For all intents and purposes, I was awake.

I’m standing in the shower and the water is pouring over me, around me, through me, and under me. I’ve turned the valve to the right for hot water but it’s still cold. This has never happened before and I somehow know it’s not a mechanical issue; the shower’s reluctance to grant me warm water is almost malicious. I have no idea why, I just know that I’ve turned the valve increasingly to the right and the water’s temperature has not yielded one degree in the right direction.

I’m cold, I’ve showered cold, and then woken up agitated yet fully aware that the distress I experienced in my sleep is mild. I’ve experienced worse and worse is yet to come.

© Leila Chammas, October 25, 2016

Different Styles of Insomnia

I don’t actively remember ever sleeping well. When I was a baby, sure, even through my teens maybe. But as of my 20s, sleep has often been a problem, one that has taken various forms.

There’s the inability to fall asleep at a normal rate. Within about 20 minutes of placing my head on the pillow, I should be surrendering to the Sandman. But no, for whatever reason, I am awake -almost wide awake- with an odd restlessness plaguing my mind. It’s almost as if something is happening, somewhere, something I should be bearing witness to but instead I’m in bed, uselessly. I’m waiting. Waiting to get up, waiting to fall asleep, waiting for my mind to let go of the alternate reality it has chosen to drift off to without my consent, leaving me with only the feeling one gets when they’ve realized they’re late to a meeting and have decided to simply not go at all. A lingering sense of angst remains for the duration of what would have been the meeting, as one guiltily carries on with other things. Then it’s 2 PM and the meeting would have been over if it had ever happened so the mind slowly rests knowing that, at this point, there’s nothing it can do.

There’s the inability to sleep without waking up multiple time for no obvious reason. I’m in and then out, in and back out. Of sleep. Up, then down. Up and back down. I don’t know why. I’m not stressed, I’m not hungry, I don’t need to pee. Yet here I am, at 11.30 PM, 1.15 AM, 3.46 AM, eyes slowly open for no obvious reason whatsoever.

And then there’s the worst of them all: the inability to sleep without dreaming, vividly and torturously.

These are my collection of nightmares.

© Leila Chammas, October 25, 2016