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I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing, not a single sound, left my paralyzed mouth. My heartbeat increased, shivers running up and down my spine. I felt him creep closer, his wretched breath tainted with alcohol. The stench filled my nostrils, and I cringed, remembering him like this.
“Bethany, why don’t you come out and we’ll play a little game.” The blade glinted from his hand, and I quivered again. Cynthia, our auburn-haired daughter of two years, began whimpering. I silently shushed her, placing my index finger to my lips. She was old enough to understand, and instantly quieted.
“Oh, Bethany!” he called out once more. “I know where you’re hiding.”
My heartbeat stopped as I heard him. He crept closer still to the closet that Cynthia and I had hidden in. The breath that was meant to keep me alive suddenly hitched in my throat. The door didn’t lock from the inside, and the knob jiggled as he clasped his hand around it. Petrified, I stood there like an idiot, not moving for something to protect Cynthia and me.
The door cautiously opened, as if it were he who was frightened. When the door was fully open, it revealed a man in his early twenties, black hair disheveled, glasses askew, eyes blood-shot, and a mouth curled into a malicious grin.
“Peek-a-boo.” His voice was one of a maniac. I saw his eyes glint in the dimmed lighting of the room. He stepped closer, his hand clasping my arm.
“Oliver, please, don’t hurt Cynthia,” I pleaded, tears forming small canals down my cheek in terror. I had no fear for myself; only for our daughter.
Oliver had often gotten intoxicated with his friends when we were still dating. I hadn’t given him too much trouble about it, though it did bother me. Once we were married, he was still drinking profusely. I still didn’t badger him about it, knowing that he was his own person. When I became pregnant with Cynthia though, things changed. I didn’t have to tell him to cease his drinking, because he promised he would. He did, but tonight I could smell his breath laced with tequila.
“Now, did I ever say I was going to hurt you?” My eyes darted to the knife that was still clasped in his left hand. He followed my gaze and chuckled. “Oh this, that just to…frighten you. Is it working, Babe?” I nodded my head cautiously. If I made a wrong move now, I could very easily die.
“Oliver, honey, why don’t you put the knife down now so we can talk about this?” I begged. The psychotic laughter filled the air once again, and I felt Cynthia cling more tightly to my sweater.
Oliver turned the blade over and over in his hands, smiling ever so slightly as he did so. The dim lighting caught his husky-blue eyes, and they shone with a maniac’s glare. The blade seemed so precious to him; almost like a long-lost friend. The way he cradled it in between his fingers was that of adoration. The blade and its wielder were one, and it frightened me more than any of the events previous.
His gaze shot up to catch mine, and he smiled a toothy grin. I felt my own face run dry of any blood, obviously making me look ghostly. The mad man’s chuckle could be heard echoing through the entire flat. He was enjoying me squirming in terror. He was enjoying this just as any maniac would.
“Sweet Bethany, why would I put this knife down? It’s going to serve its purpose so much better in my hand.”
“What do you…” I was cut short of my sentence as the tip of the blade entered into my skin. I cried out in pain, collapsing to the floor, still holding Cynthia. I heard her cry for me too. Oliver was only laughing.
“Cynthia, Cynthia, what’s the matter.” Lucas, my love, was shaking me awake from the nightmare I had been having.
“I’m fine, Lucas, really. I was just having a nightmare.” He cocked his right eyebrow, knowing precisely what the dream had been about. He knew my mother’s death still haunted me every time I closed my eyes with the smallest hope of a peaceful night.
“I really don’t see how you remember that, honestly. You were two-years old, for Christ’s sake.” I was shaking, as he put his arm around my quivering ones. “Shush now, Darling. Your father’s locked away. You’re safe now,” he cooed softly into my ear. His hands caressed my auburn hair, becoming entangled in the mess.
“It was strange though. I saw it from her point of view. I was her, holding me. I was stabbed. I fell to the ground, bleeding.” I started sobbing into Lucas’s flannel nightshirt. “Oh, it was horrible, Lucas.”
He continued to rub my back, first rubbing vertically, then circular. Once I had quieted down, he wrapped me in his arms, and I lay back down. I knew the nightmares would come again. I knew they would continue to haunt me, even though my mother’s funeral had been twenty-one years ago. They would always haunt me. There was simply nothing that would change that fact. Lying in Lucas’s arms though, knowing I was loved, I couldn’t help but think that it was all going to be alright.
Though, nothing is alright, is it? I could still end up in the same situation as my late mother, knife at my throat, awaiting Death’s cold reply to my final breaths. Now, engulfed by the sounds of my love’s breaths, I worried about what he might do to me, as my father, if he should still be called my father, did to my mother.
The nightmares would never subside, nor would the memories. I could only try to block them out, though, I would always be haunted.
Haunted by the memories and nightmares.