A pink feathered August twilight turned to night. Lillian took a deep breath in and held it, suspended, for as long as it took to absorb every atom of the twinkling sky. Its frequency switched hers to almost still, like rain water drip-dropping on a silk summer leaf. It was time to sleep. But before her final surrender, one last spectacle auditioned for attention. Golden thought bubbles often came in gentle showers, as nourishment from the highest floor of her fantasy-prone mind. Tonight, a single orb floated alone, bright and growing brighter. It flickered into a wish, a prayer, that some day the man lying on the other side of the bed would ask her to be his wife. Her small lips stretched in a smile as it prophesised her wedding day. Nothing was sweeter than night-dreaming.
Then suddenly, out of nothing; an abrupt noise, a creak; definitely, a movement. Her instincts screamed danger. She sat up. Adrenaline pumped through her. She and Phil weren’t alone. Thumps from her distressed heart flooded her ears. Her blood ran cold. Deadly silence returned. What was that noise? She asked herself, too terrified to consider the answer.
A silhouette darted across the balcony. It was a man, a burglar, dressed in black, with a weapon. Her voice left her, like the worst kind of traitor; the kind that leaves in an hour of need. Alone, she tried desperately to cope, to react, to the terrifying realisation that someone was trying to break in. Her limbs joined the mutiny. She was within inches of Phil, trying to move. Gloved fingers from outside separated the curtains. A man walked through. The intruder looked straight into her eyes through the slits in his penguin mask. She noticed his long beak, pointed and sharp like a razor. He was going to end her life.
There was blood. It poured in buckets onto a grey road. Brambly hedges and thorny bushes poked at her, forcing her to look at what she had done, at what she had caused. She saw the car, a red ’96 Ford Orion and screamed at herself to wake up.
She clung to the blanket, drenched, and sobbed quietly in the dark. Was it still normal to grieve after all these years? She thought, as she wiped her tears.
Subconscious minds were not to be treated as cesspits, she understood, but still didn’t quite know. Without mature patrolling, there was every chance that they could morph into frenzied dreamweavers, indiscriminately throwing up the random content of traumatic memories. She knew that, too. She could have done more to prevent the nightmares recurring, she thought, angry at herself.
There were plenty of signs, lead-ups to this grand finale. Lately her dreams had been urging her to take heed, to end her grand delusions. Her once sunny slumber movies had turned a shade darker, warning her that ominous clouds weren’t just ominous; that a hard rain was gonna fall.
‘God damn you, mind,’ she spitted out loud inside. All she wanted was a little co-operation. Was it really too much to ask?