It's dark. I close my eyes but they dart with determination despite the pressure of my lids and lashes. Thoughts bounce in my head like bingo balls. Ricocheting. Random. My muscles grip the shape of the day gone by. I can't sleep.
And then the motion stops and a picture materializes, dredged up like a memory but dripping with the mist of another world. Mine but not mine.
I see a familiar street. It's sunny. The green of the trees and the white of the opposite house and the mottled grey of the pavement stand out with a sharpness that hurts my eyes. I feel her small hand in mine, twisting and pushing and letting go. She runs.
Her figure and the car that crushes her blur and blend into one thing. My heart stops in real time. The blood drains from all my extremities and I expect to see hers on the street. Her blond curls are dark and damp.
My mouth doesn't open and my body can't move. I want to die.
But then I feel the real world firm against the one foot still anchored there and I force my eyes open. I have time to exhale once before she screams for real. I bolt out of bed.
Her eyes are still closed. She cries in her sleep, stuck in a dream that holds her just below the surface.
Her curls are damp. I touch her forehead and her hand -- she's warm all over. The air is close and hot.
I carry her to the living room and stand her next to the laundry basket. She's quiet now, wavering and nearly asleep. I feel my way through the unfolded clothing for something cooler. A tank top, anything. I finally find a sleeveless dress and call that good enough.
I pull the too-hot nightgown over her head and she instinctively lifts her arms. I thread her head and arms through the dress and carry her back to her room. She rests on my shoulder. I ease her onto her pillow and she's asleep before I finish adjusting the fan to oscillate in her direction.
I watch her chest rise and fall. I wait for my breath to match hers. I go back to bed.
The ceiling is black and blank. I don't close my eyes.
Then I finally do.
In the morning, the sun trickles through the trees and puddles in the house. She smiles into the kitchen. I hug her hello.