Night Terrors (Dreamweaver Book 2)

By: Helen Harper

Book 2 of the Dreamweaver series



Chapter One




We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. Seneca



Confidence is highly under-rated. All manner of good things will happen to someone who is confident. Take a nightclub, for instance. One of those cattle-market affairs which younger people who have more fun lives than me like to frequent. Many of the patrons will use alcohol to boost their self-esteem; it gives them a false sense of confidence. Unfortunately, that sort of temporary boost is often quickly lost; after all, it’s a fine line between an injection of self-assurance that will allow someone to chat up a stranger and appearing like a drunken fool who can’t stand up straight.

Remove alcohol or drugs from the equation and the lines are much more distinct. You can have the most beautiful woman in the world but if she’s in the corner with her shoulders slumped, no one will give her a second glance. The same goes for men. Alternatively, take a less attractive counterpart who’s imbued with confidence and who grasps at the world with two willing hands, and they’ll be the most popular person in the room. Let’s face it, confidence is sexy.

The confident person will stride up to the check-in desk at an airport and ask for an upgrade. They might not get it but they’re far more likely to end up in business class sipping champagne than the shyer person who silently hands over their passport and shuffles their feet. The confident person will rise high in their career; it’s not much good having a brilliant mind, outstanding work ethic and amazing qualifications if you can’t get through an interview without tripping over your tongue.

We’ve all heard stories about the stand-up comedians or stage actors who are crippled by stage fright. But as long as they can get out on that stage and act confidently once they’re there, does it really matter? We all put on a show and we all have different personas. In the last few months, I’ve lost count of the dreams I’ve apparated into where someone whom I admire in real life spends their unconscious hours imagining themselves as an object of humiliation.

I struggle with it myself. It wouldn’t take a genius to work that out. After all, I have spent the better part of the last two years as a prisoner in my own home. Even though I think I’m better now (I’d hesitate to say completely cured because I still have my moments), I veer between the two extremes of confidence. I’m either brimming with self-assurance to the point of sheer recklessness or I’m quaking in my boots. I can’t find an appropriate middle ground; frankly, I’m starting to wonder whether anyone can.

It’s easier in dreams, of course. In dreams I can be anyone I want to be. If I’m feeling low, I can hop around different unconscious minds until I find someone who’ll help me feel better. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m kidding myself, though. That any confidence I have will soon come crashing down like a house of cards and I’ll be a blubbering puddle. As someone far smarter than me once said, confidence is quiet. but insecurity is very, very loud.



***



I’m standing on top of the world. The snow is crisp and perfect, untouched by another human being. The sky is a deep azure blue and the ring of mountains surrounding me stretches upwards as if it’s scraping the heavens. I suck in a deep breath of cold air and hold it in my lungs, expelling it only when the woman in the gold macramé bikini in front of me knocks the back edges of her skis together and speaks.

‘The powder is good.’

I nod, more for myself than for her. I’ve not made my presence known and she’s oblivious to me. I watch as she tilts back her head, basking in the sun. She stretches out her arms before letting out a wild whoop and pushing off.

Sliding a few inches forward, I lean over the natural platform at the mountain’s summit and watch her. She’s already flying down the slope at an incredible speed, her hair flying out behind her. Snow sprays up as she veers first one way then another.

I lick my dry lips. I’ve never been skiing before but there’s nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end. I understand how it works. I’ll just have to trust that my subconscious knowledge translates itself to my unsteady limbs.

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