Soo Young jerked awake, gasping for breath and fighting against her attacker. Adrenalin still burned in her veins and she thrashed around in the covers punching the air around her. When she realized her fists weren't making contact with anything she opened her eyes and was met with the light of the bright morning sun streaming in through her window.
Soo Young sat upright, breathing heavily and trying to make sense of what just happened. She was alone in her room. Reaching up to feel her neck she flinched at the sudden pain. Standing up she strode over to the vanity mirror and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Fresh bruises stared back at her defiantly and she brushed them gently with a fingertip.
“What the hell?!”
No way, she thought. This wasn't real, this wasn't happening. Soo Young turned around and scanned her room for her cell phone. She spotted it on the floor, just underneath her bed and raced forward. Grabbing the cell phone she tapped on the home button, hoping she would get answers from the texts from last night. However, the battery had died sometime last night and she slumped on the floor beside her bed, unsure of what to do.
She was shaken to say the least, last night had felt so real. If it had only been a dream it had been one hell of a dream, so much so that she’d woken up with bruises on her neck. She stood on trembling legs and reached for her laptop that was sitting on the chair at the end of her bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed she opened it up. The screen lit up immediately and she moved her finger against the touchpad until it was over the Google Chrome icon.
She knew to search the web probably wasn't the greatest idea. She would either find no answers or she’d find strange answers but she needed to know nonetheless. Once the page opened up she moved to the search engine and typed in; can dreams cause real injuries? Multiple searches came up and she clicked on the first one and began to read.
Most of it was about people who experienced an injury in their dreams and then found real, physical evidence of the wound on their bodies once they awoke. As she read she found some similarities between what had happened to her last night and what had happened to others. However, most of the stories came from chat rooms or message boards, so it was hard to corroborate if they were true. She glanced up. What did this mean in her case then? Had it all just been a dream last night? Could she even call it a dream? It had felt more like a night terror.
Eight years ago, after the loss of her best friend, her father had made the decision to move out of Pocheon. They had moved across the ocean and she’d been living in America ever since.
However, this summer her grandmother had gotten really ill to the point where she couldn't be living alone. And there was no one in the world who could get her to move out the small town she’d been born and raised in.
But because her father had established his career over in America, it had fallen on Soo Young to move in with her grandmother. Her father planned on joining them once his latest project was done. He was an architect hired to build some top-notch mall center and he couldn't leave until it was finished. In the meantime, it was just Soo Young. The old woman was doing better these days but it seemed like Soo Young wasn't.
Maybe her horrible dream was the result of returning to the mountain town that held so many of her secrets. That would explain why her dream revolved around her old friends and the unforgettable shadow man. Whatever the reason Soo Young was spooked and all she wanted now was to get through the day without falling apart.
With a sigh, she closed her laptop and tossed it on the bed, chucking her dead cell phone into her school bag. Turning to her closet she was set to get ready for her first day of Junior year. Despite the fact that most of the countries schools had uniforms, Pocheon’s small high school didn't. Which Soo Young was honestly grateful for. Without putting too much effort, Soo Young pulled a black t-shirt over her head and shimmied into black pantyhose. She pulled on a pair of ripped shorts and tied a plaid shirt around her waist. She finished the look off with a faded leather jacket that used to belong to her best friend--whom she’d had to leave behind in America. With a quick glance in the mirror, she determined her long hair was good enough as it was and just combed her fingers through the strands.
Grabbing her backpack she headed downstairs. Her grandmother was in the kitchen fixing up scrambled eggs and toast.
“Morning, Grams.” Soo Young said, placing a kiss on her forehead.
The small woman smiled brightly up at her, “Good morning, sweetheart, have a seat. I made you your favorite.”
Soo Young forced a smile as the old woman placed a plate in front of her and filled it with scrambled eggs. She didn't have the heart to tell her that scrambled eggs weren't hers but her mother's favorite, nor that she was actually allergic. Her mother died when Soo Young was a mere three years old and her grandmother never quite accepted it. It didn't cost Soo Young much to let her have her peace and so she never said anything. When the old woman turned around to set the frying pan in the sink, Soo Young shoved the contents of the plate into her open bag. By the time she turned around, it looked like she had finished her breakfast.
The old woman gasped, “Oh?! You've finished already?”
“Yeah,” she lied, “Thanks Grams, it was delicious! Do you think you’ll be okay here alone until I get back from school?” She asked as she stood and set her empty plate in the sink.
“Don't worry about me sweetheart, I’ll be fine. You have fun today. Enjoy your first day of school and don't worry about getting back to me, I’m a grown woman, I can take care of myself.”
Soo Young smiled at her and nodded and her grandmother noticed the bruises on her neck.
She reached out and traced a hand against it, “Oh my, what happened to you?”
“Oh um, it’s nothing…”
“Oh, look at you, that must hurt.”
“It’s fine as long as I don’t touch it.” Soo Young said, her grandmother got the message and pulled her hand back, turning instead to wash the dishes in the sink. As Soo Young zipped up her school bag, so that her grandmother wouldn't notice the eggs inside, she wondered if her grandmother knew anything or had any clues about what had happened last night that could shed some light on the strange dream, “Hey Grams, do you… Do you believe a person can be hurt in their dream and wake up with the injuries?”
Her grandmother stilled, “Why do you ask?” She asked, turning around and looking at Soo Young strangely.