Cold Darkness

Her eyelids feel like iron slabs, but her body and mind won’t rest. The cold air of October leaks into her little room to battle and win against the tiny space heater she manages to shove into the corner among her mess of clothes, drafts of essay papers, and toys her son had strewn there earlier that day. She wraps the blanket tighter against her warmest pair of jeans and thickest hoodie and wonders if she really remembered to turn off the cooktop. As sleep creeps closer to her, she hears from the kitchen the scream of her son piercing through her veins. Throwing the blanket off her body she runs in sock feet to the kitchen to find the cooktop turned off and no one in the room. Her heart pounding, she crosses the trailer to her son’s room, where she finds him sleeping soundly with the blanket pulled tight over his soft blonde hair. A tiny wheeze escapes his lungs with each breath and she makes a mental note to get him to see a doctor this week. She closes his door to a crack and tells herself she was just lucid dreaming again. Climbing into her bed again, she takes a deep breath and before she can expel the entire breath, fast, hard stomps pound in her ears and her eyes tear open to the sight of her son, a smile, and the glint of a knife before it slides across her throat.