A Strange Thing Happened to Noah
Interesting Occurrences from an Otherwise Uninteresting Week
Very few people would look at the life of thirty year old Noah Meyer and describe it with adjectives like remarkable, extraordinary, strange, or unusual. Instead they would most likely use adjectives like unremarkable, ordinary, normal, or typical. Born and raised in the suburbs of Southern Illinois, he continued to live and work there as an adult. Although not rich by any means, his job as an office worker at one of the government agencies located in the region afforded him a solid middle class lifestyle. With his wife of five years he owned a two story house nestled amidst one of the many residential subdivisions that dotted the Southern Illinois landscape. It had a basement, a two story garage, and all the other furnishings one would expect to find in a household populated by two people of average temperament and taste.
Given the thoroughly flat, uninteresting character of Noah’s earthly existence, many would be surprised to hear what befell him one morning. They would be even more perplexed when considering the week just before the strange incident in question had been as routine as anything else in Noah’s life. In fact, little of note occurred in the days preceding the unusual event.
On the Sunday before the strange incident, Noah and his wife went to church. Sunday church was almost always a happy occasion for the couple. They would sit in one of the middle pews of the large baptist church they belonged to and listen attentively as the pastor used a book over two thousand years old as the basis for a sermon perfectly formulated to appeal to the life circumstances of a modern, MidWestern, and middle class audience. The couple typically appreciated this weekly reaffirmation of their views. When the preaching ended the two usually didn’t go straight home. Instead they stayed and mingled. Their fellow church members constituted the bulk of their friends and acquaintances. Consequently, Sunday was often the most social day of the week for them. The Sunday before the weird event was no exception.
In fact after church on that particular Sunday, the couple had been invited to a backyard barbecue at the house of one their closest friends. Initially, they had a wonderful time. Amidst familiar company, the two ate, talked, and enjoyed the fine May weather. It was pleasant. Eventually, however, something occurred that ,at least for Noah and his wife, put an end to all the pleasantness they’d been thoughtlessly partaking in.
“I’m pregnant,” announced the wife of the man hosting the barbecue. She proclaimed this to all present at the occasion. Immediately, the air filled with breathless congratulations and a joyful clamor. On the surface, Noah and his wife were as pleased as anyone about the news. Inwardly, though, they both cringed. At the mere mention of children the pleasant character of the evening came to an end for them. For the rest of the time, the two merely played the part of the happy married couple.
The tension between husband and wife only became outwardly apparent on the drive home. Noah drove while his wife sat shotgun. Both were silent. Sitting mere feet away from the supposed love of her life, Claire wondered whether it was worth it to say what was on her mind and in doing so rehash an argument they’d already had before; many times in fact. For his part, Noah said nothing out of fear that anything he did say would have the effect of sparking the dreaded argument. Her silence throughout the drive convinced him he had been successful in avoiding the troublesome subject. Later in the night when the couple was getting ready to go to bed, however, his wife finally found it within herself to disabuse him of that notion.
“Honey, do you think maybe it's time we started trying to have a child,” she said, no longer able to suppress her true concerns.
When Noah and his wife started dating one of many important topics the young couple discussed was children. Specifically, whether or not to have them. Claire wanted them. A Noah in his early twenties and in the thralls of love claimed he did too. It made her feel happy and blessed that in Noah she found a man who along with other positive traits possessed a mutually agreed upon desire to start a family. Years passed. The couple was entering into their thirties, and the spectacle of watching her friends have kids while she didn’t was only becoming harder to bear.
“Claire, I told you,” Noah responded with a quickness suggestive of a prepared answer, “I should be getting that promotion soon, and once I do it won’t be long until we’ve saved enough money to be fully ready to afford children. I promise we’ll get there and we’ll get there soon.”
He waited on bated breath for his wife’s reaction.
“Fine, fine, fine,” she answered in a tone of barely repressed weariness.
The couple soon went to bed. Right before he fell asleep, Noah thought about promises made to Claire years ago. He pondered genuinely pondered the possibility of admitting to her the doubts, concerns, and misgivings that over time had made the fulfillment of such promises more difficult for him to keep.
“No not tonight,” he thought to himself, “Not tonight. Some other night. Soon, but not tonight.”
With that he went to bed relieved that for now he had avoided a confrontation over the issue.
On Tuesday after work, Noah stopped by the grocery store to pick up some groceries. This would have been a totally ordinary activity hardly worth a mention except for one thing. While standing in one of the many crowded checkout lanes, he spied a woman of sufficient physical attractiveness so as to cause him to become sexually aroused. His penis became erect.
“Damn’t, damn’t, damn’t not here,” he thought to himself as he tried shifting his pants to hide the incriminating evidence of his arousal from the view of the general public. At that moment he became a man torn between two competing impulses. On the one hand, as a man regarded by most around him as a responsible, conscientious member of society he felt a keen obligation not to make a public show of his triggered sexual desire. He regarded the thing to do was to turn away from the woman in question; to not let his male gaze linger on her. On the other hand, the inner temptation to continue feasting on her outward appearance held an irresistible sway over him. This tension between public obligation and private desire persisted until the woman checked out her groceries then left the store. She would likely never be seen by him again. That truth made little difference to his libido. On the drive home, he gave himself over to futile imaginings of the beautiful woman.
“Hey honey, how was work,” asked his wife the moment he entered their house. Hearing and then seeing his lawfully wedded wife finally put a damper on his runaway sexual fantasizing.
“Stop it. What are you doing,” He inwardly chastised himself, “You have a wife. You already have a beautiful, kind, lovely woman to come home to. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.”
These chastisements succeeded in their immediate aim of putting an end to his renegade daydreaming. Private thoughts were finally brought in line with propriety. Nevertheless, over the next preceding days in the midst of the occasional idle moment he would once more give himself over to futile imaginings of the beautiful woman he saw at the grocery store. She was his mental flavor of the week so to speak.
The next few days proceeded along the general routine of work, errands, then relaxing at home with his wife. He did little else outside of those things. Only on Friday, the day before the strange incident occurred, did anything of further interest take place. That Friday, as it turns out, he and his wife had been invited to a game night with some friends. They arrived at the occasion around 6pm and didn’t leave until 11pm. By the time the couple made it home they were both giddy with recollections of the evening’s events. It had been such a fun time. A sort of spontaneous, overflowing joy and excitement characterized the evening which they’d spent among a throng of their favorite friends and acquaintances. Laying in bed waiting for sleep to cap off his night, Noah allowed a general feeling of contentment to take hold of him. He fell asleep happy. The next day something extremely strange and unexpected happened to him.
The Morning Of the Strange Incident
The morning of the strange incident Noah woke up to the perfectly expected sounds of birds chirping and kids playing outside. Instead of immediately getting up, he chose to lay in bed for a while. He listened to the wonderful cacophony coming from outside. It filled him with bliss. These were the sort of things that almost every summer morning served to subconsciously remind him that he lived in a tranquil suburb populated by peaceful, responsible neighbors. In other words, he lived in a ‘good neighborhood.’ For all he knew the rest of the world could be on fire, but here at least he was safe and sound. Eventually, unaware of anything amiss he got out of bed.
Standing up and stretching out his body, Noah got the first inkling that something was wrong. He felt something was missing, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Deciding to brush this feeling aside he started taking off his sleeping clothes. That was when he finally realized it. Removing his pants then his underwear caused him to stumble upon the inconvenient truth that the entirety of his male genitalia, penis and testicles, was gone. In its place was a small, featureless hole. Although never the sharpest tool in the shed, it still didn’t take him long to determine that this was a matter requiring immediate attention.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHH,” he screamed out at the top of his lungs. His screaming caused his wife to wake up from the deep slumber she’d been enjoying.
“Honey, what’s wrong,” she inquired as she rubbed her eyes and tried to shake off the lingering sleepiness.
In short order, he told and showed her what was wrong. She too quickly surmised that this was an issue worthy of immediate attention. Whatever plans they had for that morning they canceled them. Instead they made a run straight to the emergency room.
Some people hate going to see the doctor. Noah didn’t. While he didn’t exactly look forward to a trip to the doctor’s office he at least appreciated the value of being able to go to one when needed. Experience had taught him that a trip to a doctor’s office or the hospital usually marked the beginning of the end of whatever physical affliction ailed him. Both as a child and as an adult he had many memories of walking into a clinic with some pain or illness the features of which the doctors would examine, then categorize into a diagnosis, and then prescribe an efficacious treatment for. In the back of his mind was the general image of the medical profession as a steadfast and reliable source of comfort against all the ills and woes which may beset one’s physical body. Sitting in the emergency room he tried to calm himself by looking forward to what he hoped would be the eventual triumph of empirically based modern medicine over whatever in the world was wrong with his genitals. He and his wife waited for what felt like an eternity. Finally, they were called in.
At first things went as expected. A doctor asked Noah what was the problem, and as calmly as he could he explained what was the matter; his penis and testicles were missing, and in their place was now a small hole. Remarkably nonplussed by Noah’s explanation, the doctor proceeded to ask Noah a barrage of follow up questions. Among other things he inquired into Noah’s prior medical history, whether he’d been in a recent accident,or if he’d been intoxicated the night before. To all these questions Noah answered in the negative. The doctor continued his interrogation. He asked if Noah remembered anything wrong with his genitals the night before, if the afflicted area was in any sort of pain, or if there was any bleeding. Once more Noah answered in the negative. Things took a turn after this second set of negative responses.
Until then the presiding doctor had been able to maintain the sort of calm and composure one would expect of a professional. Noah’s explanation of his current predicament was certainly shocking and surprising, but so at first blush were many medical emergencies he encountered before. People often came in with mystery ailments that with careful questioning, examination, and testing turned out to be things perfectly explainable in terms of medical science. With confidence drawn from experience he believed Noah’s affliction would prove no different. As it turns out such did not happen. Instead the more questions he asked the more baffling Noah’s condition became to him. His patient’s answers, which had the ring of sincerity to them, had the effect of shooting down all the easy hypotheses he could think of in regards to explaining how the man’s entire genitalia could just disappear.
An examination of the affected area only confirmed the inexplicability of Noah’s condition. As his patient stated, he saw no signs of bleeding, injury, or anything else which would indicate the traumatic removal of the penis and testicles. They were simply gone. In their place was indeed a small hole which, if the doctor didn’t know any better, seemed so innocuous as to suggest that it had always been there. Baffled, the doctor called upon reinforcements to help figure out the puzzle.
From that point onward, a steady parade of the doctor’s peers made their way into the room where they too examined the area where Noah’s genitals once were. They too peppered Noah with questions. All their collective effort had the effect of confirming what Noah and the original doctor had told them; Noah’s penis and testicles were gone without any evidence as to what could have caused their sudden disappearance. They couldn’t believe it. As medical professionals trained in the scientific discipline of modern medicine they were reluctant to accept the sheer inexplicability of Noah’s condition. There had to be an explanation or at least something which pointed to one.
Eager to experience the relief he’d come to the hospital to find, Noah answered their questions honestly, and wholeheartedly cooperated with their examinations of him. He maintained his faith. As time progressed, however, he became disturbed. While at first their inquiries were asked in the kind, empathetic tone one would expect from well-trained and well-mannered medical professionals, things became tenser over time. An irritation became evident in the way the doctors spoke to him. Their incessant pressuring him for answers regarding things he’d already explained made him feel less like a patient, a victim in all this, and more like a criminal whose stubborn refusal to just confess was prolonging the situation. Noah and his wife told them all they knew regarding the origins of his present condition, but the doctors trained in the art of empirical reasoning refused to believe the evidence before them.
They were getting nowhere. Since the area where Noah’s genitals used to be showed no signs of injury, infection, or pain, pretty much the only thing the doctors could do was make sure Noah was in good health which he most certainly was then send the couple on their way with instructions to let them know if anything changes. That was it. All parties involved came out of that situation experiencing varying levels of dissatisfaction. None more so than Noah.
With Eyes Wide Open
After fruitless hours spent at the hospital, Noah and his wife finally returned home in the afternoon. They were exhausted. Noah felt especially drained.
“Well the good news,” began Noah’s wife desperate to lighten the mood, “Is that otherwise you’re in perfectly good health. There doesn’t seem to be anything else missing or wrong with you other than ya know…”
She gently placed a hand on her husband’s shoulder as he sat morose and bewildered on the living room couch.
“Honey, are you listening to me? We can get through this. We can.”
Noah took in his wife’s words of comfort, but they were lost amidst the great whirlwind in his mind. Taking notice of the lack of effect she was having, his wife retreated to the kitchen in order to give him space. For almost half an hour he sat on the couch doing little else besides trying to make sense of his situation. Eventually he tired of the effort.
“I need to take a nap. That’s what I need. A nap,” he thought to himself. Grasping at whatever straws of hope he could, he allowed himself to imagine that a good nap was what was needed to get everything straight in his head. Rest, he presumed, would let confused, harried thoughts come more into focus. It would afford him the clarity of mind to make sense of the clearly nonsensical. At once he lifted himself off the couch and headed for the bedroom.
Sleep came easy for him. The troubled man rested his head on the pillows of his bed then let exhaustion do the rest. Not long after he fell asleep then he fell into dreaming. In the span of however long his dreaming lasted, his unconscious mind forced upon him all manner of fantastical sights and sounds, impossible events, and experience of things alien to his everyday life. He woke up with a start.
For a few startled moments, the line between dream and reality was blurred in his mind so that he did not quite know whether the world he’d awoken to was real or not. It didn’t take long for him to sort out this confusion. After all, reality is what one encounters with eyes wide open whereas dreams only exist with closed eyes and disengaged senses. Second after second, Noah’s opened eyes absorbed the objective sensory experience of his cozy, familiar bedroom until without much further struggle he eventually came to accept the conclusion of his senses that told him he was awake and in his room. This was indeed reality.
“Oh please tell me that this whole B.S. about my penis going missing is just a dream too,” he mused.
Lifting up the covers then his pants, his eyes saw the small featureless hole where his penis used to be. It too was real. With immeasurable disappointment, he groaned.
Staring at the new hole on his body, Noah found himself at a complete loss. Unlike the absurdities one may conjure up in a dream, this one refused to go away. Furthermore, no explanation was forthcoming for it. It was just there. Several times he opened and closed his eyes, but it remained. He became distraught. In his desperation, he closed his eyes one more time and then did something he rarely did. He prayed to God for a miracle.
Prayer for a Miracle
Noah was not in the habit of calling upon God to perform divine interventions. It wasn’t that he didn't believe God was capable of performing such feats. On the contrary, the God Noah professed faith in was one who was omnipotent, omniscient, infinite, and all those other attributes he regularly heard preached about in church. In theory, Noah believed in a God who was the Supreme Lord of the Universe. It was thus not for lack of belief that he rarely called for God’s direct assistance.
Instead it was simply due to the fact that on most days modern life with all its conveniences and abundance provided for Noah's needs and wants so well that despite a religious upbringing combined with years of church going, the idea of calling upon God for help often slipped his mind. Hunger, for example, could be resolved with a quick trip to the grocery store. Getting clean, filtered water to quench his thirst was as easy as turning on the nearest faucet. Meanwhile, his two story home stocked with appliances served as a more than adequate source of shelter. Within such a well-provisioned life it was effortless to subconsciously view God’s role in the universe as passive rather than active; less heavenly father and more cosmic rubber stamp over the whole of the conventional order upon which Noah based his life. Only the occasional moment of despair, such as the one he found himself in, caused a remembrance of God’s supposed role as a ready source of help for problems which couldn’t be handled through more typical means.
As he began his prayer, Noah thought about the contentment he experienced only last night and the clear sense the world made to him just this morning. He could not fathom his current ordeal as anything more than a slip-up in the normal functioning of the world. There was no way something like this should have happened to him. In his prayer, he made sure to inform a purportedly omniscient being of all the ways he conformed to the general ethical expectations society held for a man like him, and thus didn’t deserve this punishment if in fact his predicament was some sort of punishment. He stressed this point. With all his heart he prayed that the world, or at least his tiny piece of the world, would be made right. Like a dissatisfied customer at a store who after complaining to the manager expects their problem to be rectified forthwith, Noah wasted no time opening his eyes to see if his prayer had been answered. It hadn’t. He went to bed that night in a state of utter discontentment.
The Appearance of Normality
A joke is an absurdity that can be dismissed with a laugh and then one goes on with the regular business of their life. The disappearance of Noah’s genitals was no joke. A simple trip to the bathroom was more than enough to impress upon him the degree to which the loss of his genitalia wasn’t just a ridiculous occurrence of no consequence. The small hole which had replaced his genitals possessed no sexual or reproductive function whatsoever. It was most certainly not a penis, but most definitely not a vagina. Instead from what the doctors and Noah could tell the only thing the featureless hole was good for was passing urine. This meant among other things, he now had to get used to using the restroom without a penis to aim. Such new annoyances were unavoidable in light of the reality he found himself dealing with. They could not simply be laughed away. Over the course of the days, weeks, and even months which followed that strange Saturday morning, Noah had to find ways to contend with the unforeseen circumstance fate had thrown at him.
In one sense, the overall character of his life changed little. Driven by an almost instinctual impulse to at least keep up the appearance of normality, he continued along the routines which had structured his existence before the unusual incident. That is he went to church on Sunday, attended parties his friends invited him to, went to work at his office job Monday through Friday etc. In other words, he lived his life so that to a casual outside observer everything seemed normal. His efforts did not go without effect.
Possessing little to no conception of his changed circumstance, the people around Noah continued to treat him as the likeable, sociable, and generally upstanding person they’d always known him to be. Virtually no one even suspected a change. While during the initial days after the loss of his genitals Noah was possessed of a paranoia about his condition somehow someway being discovered, this fear gradually gave way to a realization of the true state of things. Pants and underwear bought at a discount at Wal-Mart along with a general reluctance among well-adjusted people to not stare at another person’s private parts were more than enough to veil his extraordinary secret. It honestly surprised him just how well he could hide such an outlandish affair. Observing the people around him, he occasionally found himself wondering what sorts of secrets they may possess behind fashionable clothes, closed doors, or the like. A world he thought he knew well became a little stranger and unknowable when he pondered such thoughts. Regardless, the situation remained that by most appearances his unremarkable life continued along its mundane trajectory. In fact, although reluctant to admit it, the fallout from the strange incident had some effects on his life that he found rather convenient.
Before the incident, he’d worried over the prospect of admitting to his wife the second thoughts he had in regards to having kids. Conflict avoidant by nature he dreaded triggering an argument. Now that he lacked the ‘equipment’ to naturally impregnate his wife Noah felt himself liberated from that worry. Any conflict over the issue could now be indefinitely postponed.
Yet another convenience became apparent whenever he went out in public and caught sight of a woman whose physical appearance struck him as irresistible. As he oogled and oggled the latest object of his rampant libido, he no longer concerned himself with whether his erection was noticeable to the general public. He could no longer get one. Consequently, he now allowed himself to look a bit longer than he would otherwise. While fear of domestic upheaval and the disapproval of others would always keep him within the technical confines of monogamy, he nevertheless rarely passed up an opportunity to indulge in fantasy.
These new conveniences in his life did not go unnoticed by him. Indeed, he took a secret, suppressed solace in them. Nonetheless, it would be wholly wrong to say that the strange incident had a net positive effect on his life. Quite the opposite was in fact the case. For what troubled Noah the most about his new condition weren’t things readily evident to an outside observer. Instead they were things which only someone privy to his inner world could possibly perceive.
Above all else, the inexplicable loss of his genitals disturbed a mindset which had sustained him for years. Noah knew his life was unremarkable. Long before the strange incident, he recognized that as much as he may long for the extraordinary his life was destined for the ordinary. He did not let this truth drive him into despair. Instead he settled. Through the years he convinced himself that a life of comfortable stability and predictable pleasures was one adequate enough for him. He learned to value the unexciting yet reliable character of his existence. A reality in which an entire part of his body could disappear in the middle of the night for no evident reason was one he could no longer regard as reliable, stable, safe, or secure. Consequently, a secret anxiety afflicted him even as he went about his day to day life.
The friends and acquaintances he spent time with knew nothing of his newfound worries. They could not see through his veneer of normality. For his part, although he at times felt tempted to confide in at least one of them the truth of his condition he invariably kept silent. When it came to subjects like sports, work, or even politics he had plenty of people to talk to. When it came to the one subject truly at the forefront of his mind, however, he kept silent. He stood among the crowd, but suffered alone.
Occasionally he attempted to share with his wife his inner unease, but her reaction always followed the same general path. She could tolerate listening to his concerns for a little while, but eventually she would think up some excuse to cease listening to him and instead retreat into things she could more readily understand; things which didn’t discomfort her so much. Her husband did not possess this luxury.
Time continued its relentless march. Days, weeks, and months passed, but no insight arose to shed even the smallest amount of light upon the reasons for the sudden disappearance of Noah’s genitals. He remained in the dark. In lieu of some grand epiphany, it was the mere passing of time which slowly but surely lulled him back into that sense of impervious security he’d thoughtlessly enjoyed before the strange incident. With time it wasn’t too hard to draw him back into something resembling his previous peace of mind. After all, most aspects of his life seemed as solid and firm as ever. His inner life would have drifted towards some version of a new normal. Unfortunately, life threw yet another unexpected turn.
If one were to ask a young Noah what he wanted to be when he grew up he would have likely stated a music star. Music was his passion after all, and his guitar was his most treasured companion growing up. Life doesn't care much for the opinion of young boys. Consequently, at thirty Noah worked in an office with his desk situated in the middle of a massive cubicle farm. His job functioned as one gear operating in a much larger bureaucratic machine the size and scope of which he was ignorant of.
Like other disappointments in his life, Noah strove to make the most of his fated career. On workdays he got out of bed the moment his alarm clock rang. Once at work his fingers and hands got little rest as he spent the day either typing or clicking with his mouse. Few would contest his great work ethic. It was the expectation of reward in the form of not only a steady paycheck but also regular career advancements that served to keep him going and coming into work if not with a smile then at least with a sense his efforts were not in vain.
Several months after the loss of his genitals, Noah was unexpectedly called into his boss’s office. As he walked toward the office, he tried to suppress his excitement. In his mind, there could be only one logical reason for this sudden summons. It could be summed up in a single word.
“Promotion,” he thought to himself over and over again. That one word ran through his head causing a wave of excitement to course through him each time it did. Reflecting on his recent productivity and hard work, Noah felt confident in presuming he would receive his just desserts.
“Noah, I’m not going to sugarcoat this,” said his boss as looked his employee in the eye, “But we’re going to have to let you go.”
In the instant his boss said this, Noah swore he could feel his heart stop.
“Now I assure you it’s nothing personal. You’re a great worker. A stand up employee actually,” the boss continued in a tone attempting to reassure a cracking Noah. Unbeknownst to him, however, this effort to comfort only had the effect of making the significance of his words even more mystifying to the beleaguered man.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes, the boss did his best to communicate to his employee the larger, impersonal forces compelling him to lay off Noah. He tried to be clear in his assurance that Noah was not the only one; indeed far from it. Planted in a chair in front of his boss’s desk, Noah listened to the explanation given. The words might as well have fallen on deaf ears. A man accustomed to thinking about individual effort possessed little appreciation for the overarching forces his boss spoke of. On the contrary, a sense of injustice welled up inside him. Within the bounds of professional politeness he begged and pleaded his case, but it was no use. He returned to his desk in defeat. Although the termination of his employment was imminent, it was not immediate. This meant he still had the rest of the current workday and then barely a couple more weeks after that. Consequently, for the remainder of the day he worked just as hard as he usually did. Force of habit and an inability to conceive of what else to do kept him going.
“It’s alright you’ll get over this hump,” his wife reassured him after he came home and told her the news, “ I think this weekend they actually have a job fair and my cousin Vance can help you update your resume, and…” On and on his wife went giving him advice that made perfect practical sense to him. He tried to take it in.
“Yes, she’s right. There’s so much I can do. Yes,” he reasoned with himself. Inspired by his wife’s words, his mind brimmed over with ideas of things he could do; ways he could reassert his will against the aggregate of forces that stood against him. That night he tried as best he could to relax and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for putting all these ideas into action. At first, he slept soundly. Then late into the night he had a nightmare.
In his dream, he stood alone as the monsters his own mind conjured up came at him all at once. They showed him no mercy. With all his might he struggled, fought, and tried to fend them off, but to no avail. Effortlessly, they overwhelmed him; his own effort amounting to nothing. Just as he felt they were about to bring about his demise, he woke up. Wiping the cold sweat off his brow, he quietly got out of bed so as not to disturb his wife then made his way downstairs under the pretense of getting a glass of cool water. Even after he’d woken up his heart continued to pound, and his hands failed to cease their trembling. Not wanting to return to bed in such an uneasy state he decided to take a seat by the kitchen counter as he sipped his water. He tried to calm himself.
Not too long ago, something like a nightmare would have been easily dealt with. Perhaps for a minute or two after he woke up from one he would be frightened, bewildered, but soon after he would have comforted himself with reminders that in the waking world at least he had little reason to be afraid. Recent events, though, had taken their toll. Try as he may, the old sense of life’s certainties eluded him. He could not return to a peaceful slumber.