By Shannon Taylor
Warning: The following contains some graphic content. Reader discretion is advised.
I looked at it confused because there was no cut or scratch on my arm. I sat up quickly and turned to my right. Scarlett’s head had been sawed halfway off and it hung awkwardly off her shoulder. Bits of bone sprinkled her pillowcase; there was blood everywhere, and her dead eyes stared at me in silent accusation.
I reached out to grab her, and when I did her head started to come unhinged from her neck and I could hear the tearing sound it made as it fell right into my hands. The scream built up from my diaphragm to my throat and that’s when I came completely unhinged. I could feel my mind snapping.
That is also when I woke up. The scream was still lodged in my throat, threatening to escape, but I choked it down, paralyzed in my bed as I gasped for breath.
I could not roll over and look.
I was still in that half-dream, half-awake state and I. Just. Could. Not. Move. To move would be to face Scarlett lying next to me and face the reality that she was, indeed, dead.
I knew she was dead. I knew this without a shadow of a doubt.
It felt so real that I reached to touch my arm to feel the wet of blood on it, but there was no blood.
I laid on my back, still not looking to my right, crying. I cut my eyes to my right quickly and saw her silhouette, head still seemingly attached, but still not quite believing that the dream hadn’t seeped into my reality. I rolled over and touched her chest. I couldn’t feel her heart beating.
My heart started racing and I leaned down to her mouth to feel her breath. Her breath was hot on my wet cheek; I could still smell the toothpaste she had used earlier that night. I almost reached out to hug her to me, because I needed her in my arms, but I realized if I did this that I would start shaking and crying and wake her.
I ran to the bathroom and vomited in the toilet. Tears and puke became one as I sat there staring at the porcelain and knowing there would be no more sleep for me that night. I sat silently in the bathroom staring at the faces in the flower pattern on the walls and tried to forget the face I just held, torn off in my hands, moments before.
I made a pot of coffee and started pacing, checking the security system every 10 minutes.
Checking my daughter every 10 minutes.
I paced back and forth, back and forth.
I became the crackhead who peeked through blinds out into the empty night, knowing that at some point I’d see something in the night peeking back in at me. My fingers were bloody where I had chewed them to the quick and there was nothing left but skin to gnaw at. My chest hurt from chain-smoking as I lit one after the other.
My mind started to wander as I paced. I started to fantasize about killing his ex. How dare she threaten to harm my daughter. How dare she! As much as I’ve hated her the past 11 years I had never once thought about harming one of her kids. For her to stoop so low as to even threaten one of mine made me feel a hate for her that surpassed all past hate. It made me sick. I wanted her dead.
A million different ways ran through my mind.
I wanted her to suffer like my daughter had suffered in my dreams. Like I had suffered because of them.
What. Is. Wrong. With. Me?
I had no idea why these thoughts were running through my head. I would never kill anyone.
Stop. Just stop, I told myself, but then I thought to myself that if she actually did harm my daughter in any way, shape, or form that she’s dead. Simple as that.
I lit another cigarette and half choked on the acrid smoke that filled my lungs because I knew it was true. If she killed my daughter, I would kill her.
It would not come to that I told myself. I argued with myself about whether or not she was going to try and follow through on her threat. I argued with myself on whether I’d actually kill her if she tried. I just argued with myself. I couldn’t seem to stop the crazy flow of thoughts that entered my mind any more than I could stop the awful dream I had.
I stayed off Topix the next night. I made sure that my daughter slept with us again. Forget getting her to sleep in her own bed, I thought.
It was so hard to get to sleep. No visions of sugar-plums danced in my head, that was for sure. It ended up being a repeat of the night before, except this time Scarlett got off the bus and was checking the mail and a huge pick-up truck ran her down like something straight out of a Stephen King novel. I could see her chest collapse beneath the truck, and then it kept going back and forth over her tiny body until she was nothing but mush in the road. I was paralyzed to stop it. I woke up the same as before and repeated the same steps as before. Still choking a scream, still checking her breath, and still hugging the porcelain in the bathroom.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
This goes on for almost 2 weeks.
It had gotten so bad that there were dark circles under my eyes from staying up and fighting sleep as long as I could. Who wants to go to bed knowing that THAT stuff is what’s waiting for them when the sandman comes?
No thank you. I’ll pass.
My nails were non-existent — tiny little nubs attached to fingers were all that was left. I was going through two packs of cigarettes a day. I don’t know how I kept up with anything — it was final’s week for God’s sake! How had no one noticed how I looked?
I stopped sleeping completely after the last dream I had. The worst one yet.
To be continued …