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You're Next

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“Sleep tight, sweetheart.”
“And you too, Mommy!” she said in her cute, six-year-old voice as she poked my nose and yawned.
“Goodnight, I love you,” I whispered as I closed the door and turned off the light, but she was already fast asleep.
I walked down the quick hallway to my room, passing the framed memories of the Civil War and vacations to Florida.
The brilliant gold trophies on the shelf held the light for a moment; reminding me of the sacred times we used to have before Ben went off to college.
So I walked around to my side of the bed and tucked myself in, too. I flipped through every channel before drifting off for a while only to be awoken by small hands and the unforgettable whisper of “Mommy, mommy.”
I finally rolled over to see what my daughter needed.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I had a bad dream,” she whispered loudly. And I noticed her face was wet with tears.
“Oh, sweetie, do want to tell me about it and sleep next to me and Daddy for tonight?”
She merely nodded her had as I reached for a tissue off the nightstand and dabbed her tears.
“So what happened?”
“D…Daddy died.”
She’d never had a dream like that before. I pulled her over between Daddy and me and tucked her under the covers for the second time tonight.

In the morning, I woke due to the blaring sirens, probably the neighbors and their up-to-no-good kids again.
My husband had already gone to work as usual. He always worked early on Saturdays. I’m a late sleeper, and a heavy one.
I opened the white blinds to see what the racket was about, to discover that the two police cars and ambulance were indeed, at my house. Picking up my blue robe, I headed downstairs to find little Annie staring out the front window, watching Grandpa talk to the police.
I put on my slippers and opened the door to go see what this was about. Before I even got to the ambulance, one of the emergency doctors stepped out to confront me.
“I’m …I’m so, so sorry, he never had a chance. It was a very fatal heart attack, killed him instantly.” Her broken sentences echoed chaotically in my mind: “He never had a chance…He never had a chance.”
I asked to see him, and she helped me onto the ambulance as I grabbed his face and kissed him on his head. My tears were already dripping onto the clean, fabric sheet that covered him. I stepped out and nodded.
Annie ran out to me when she saw me crying and finally asked why they were here.
“Daddy…Daddy went to join Grandma in heaven, Annie. Daddy is dead.”
And that’s when I realized; those same words were spoken just last night, in the same terrifying tone.
Annie, at six, seemed to take it better than me; quiet tears formed, but never fell.
When she finally spoke, “I told you, I tried to warn you, I…I tried, but you didn’t listen. I wasn’t allowed to tell you, I promised I wouldn’t, at least, not till after…” she trailed off leaving me confused.
“What, Annie, what are you trying to say?”
Her eyes were sincere and glassy again as they bored into my own. “I told you Daddy was going to die,” and the smallest, most unwanted smile crossed her face for just a second, “and you’re next,” she winked.





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