As a child I had a frequent, recurring dream in which a woman with long, slender hands and talon-like nails would poke and prod at the small of my back as I attempted to escape. Only to wind up cornered, choking on tears, and unable to scream.
The identity of the woman tended to change from time to time. Sometimes appearing as my mother or grandmother, aunt or teacher; always a female I trusted as only a young child could. Her voice would draw me out to greet her as if she had just arrived for a visit or chat, but upon seeing her I knew she was not who she claimed to be. Taller than usual and gaunt, with elongated limbs. Faintly resembling Cruella de Vil and the Other Mother (despite having yet to be introduced) as one.
So I would turn and run. Thinking maybe if I were fast enough, or clever enough, or pleaded enough that this time the imposter woman might spare me and my poor, innocent back.
She never did of course and I would wake up in a cold sweat, contorted at odd angles, while hearing echoes of her scolds.
From here I would occasionally call out to my actual mother for comfort, but was often too frightened to take the chance and resorted to sitting up in bed determined not to fall back to sleep until morning. An endeavour I failed miserably, causing me to wake again, many hours later, without the slightest recollection as to why I was so sore. Only to remember much later that a terrible woman-thing had been tickling my spine.
This dream continued throughout the majority of my childhood, but gradually phased itself out as I became of age. That is until a few months ago when I found myself called by a familiar voice, and I have to say, we were both rather surprised to see each other. I haven’t stopped thinking about her since.