It’s the same dream every time.
Sweat dripping from me like I’ve just got out of the shower. I’m panting.
As I lift the pillow, the baby’s blank eyes stare up at me, beseeching some sort of pity or at least recognition.
The clock above his cot says 1:15.
The smile never wavers. I look upon his lifeless face with pure nonchalance.
It’s when I get to the mirror that things get weird.
The face that stares back at me through bloodshot eyes is not my own.
Not even close.
I’m still staring at my grinning reflection when the second boy appears. He’s a few years older than the boy I’ve just suffocated beneath the pillow.
His scream registers with me but it’s far away, kind of like I’m hearing it underwater.
Sound acts differently in this dream.
His eyes look wide enough to pop out of their sockets and land by my bare feet.
He eyes me in dismay, bemusement turning into recognition before morphing into terror and despair.
He turns to the landing and runs, screaming at the top of his lungs.
But he’s not as fast as me.
The boy is hanging limply over my arm, my hands still clenched tight around his throat, when our male lead arrives.
He’s good-looking in a fatherly, best-years-are-behind-him kind of way, until grief makes him ugly.
His face contorts, turning a shade of beetroot only slightly lighter than that of the limp corpse in my arms.
Tears pour from his eyes, which lock with mine for a second. His mouth moves, but I hear no words.
I feel certain the grin on my face has never dropped for a second, in fact I’m sure it has grown.
He takes one look at the child lying dead in my arms and turns and runs down the stairs, crying for help at the top of his lungs.
I know he’s headed for the kitchen, though the layout of the house in unfamiliar to me. The look on his face just told me he was seeking a weapon to defend himself.
This is confirmed when I go into the kitchen to find him with a knife in his trembling hand.
His face is set now, tears evaporated by a seething rage and determination.
He’s not going down without a fight, I can tell that now.
He talks to me.
Again, it’s not coherent, I don’t really understand. Though I do make out a name on the end of it.
The name is not mine and I have no idea why he is calling me it.
His lips move again, and I sense he is trying to talk tough to intimidate me, but the terror he is feeling is betrayed by his eyes.
My grin widens further as I move in.
The knife lashes out at me, tentative at first, but then given confidence by the thought of his murdered sons.
The blade catches my right hand and draws blood that patters down to the floor. This is the only noise in the confrontation other than the sound of blood racing through my head and my own ragged breathing.
He sees that I am still grinning like a madwoman and turns to try and leave by the back door. I shove it shut, grabbing his hair with my cut hand.
My blood leaves a smear on his blonde hair.
Laughing at the top of my voice, I haul him back hard enough to almost tear his hair out by the root.
He cries out, this time clear through the other noises my body is using to blot out his protests.
My fist mangles his nose.
The knife comes back, sticking in my gut almost up to the hilt. The pain is far away, but I feel warmth on my belly where the blood is dripping out of my body. I can hear every drop as it lands on the floor.
His face contorts again, his dismay that I’m still standing, still hostile, still smiling even, fully evident.
He pulls the knife and says something, his face twisted into a mask of utter despair. I can tell he doesn’t want to hurt me.
But again the blade comes for my stomach.
I catch his hand an inch from my belly.
He again cries out as I twist his wrist hard enough to make him drop the knife.
My panting is deafening in my ears, rendering his frantic screams mute.
The knife is in my hand now, plunging into his abdomen again and again and again, covering my grinning face with spatters of gore.
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