Lexi’s husband pulls her close in his sleep. Her son, dreaming beneath his mountain of sleepy toys and fish shaped pillows in the next room. She glances at the pictures of her family and friends displayed on her bedroom wall. Each placed in just the right spot so that no passerby could possibly miss its gaze.
She loved taking pictures. She enjoyed showing off her bright smile and bubbly personality. They would serve as decent reminders of what happiness felt like, especially on nights like this. She felt alone.
She scanned the room for her dog Hank, who lay comatose at the foot of the bed. She was jealous. How could they make it look so easy? To fall asleep with no consequences. No trembling, or panting or screaming? Why was it so impossible for her?
Water. A glass of water and a few melatonin should do the trick. She climbed out of bed, shoving her weighted blanket to the floor. ‘Buy this expensive blanket! It calms anxiety and will help you sleep!’ She mocked every bullshit ad she had ever seen for those “magic soporific blankets”. She carefully peered through every doorway and window on her way to the kitchen, making sure no one was hiding in the darkness or crouched down in the corner waiting to reach out and grab her as she passed.
Reaching for the sleeping pills and a half empty glass of water left sitting in the sink from dinner, she caught a glimpse of the collection of pill bottles left over from abandoned prescriptions. ‘I could take every one of these pills right now. At least then I could rest in peace. And it’s not like anyone would miss me. She thought of her husband James, who had a successful job and plenty of money to support himself and their son. He didn’t need her. Their son Jaxon was in kindergarten this year. He was strong and astute, especially given his age. By the time he was five he was doing his own laundry and would clean his room without being asked to do so. He enjoyed independency. Lexi was just there. Taking up space in their home. In their lives.
She shook off this morbid but familiar feeling and drug herself back to bed, preparing herself for the same fate she faces every night. Closing her eyes, she tried to think about something else. Anything else, to take her mind off of what was to come. The trembling, the panting, the screaming. She knew that the longer she stayed awake, was just more time to set the stage for the dreams that she knew would come. The nightly reminder of the pain and trauma she and her family shared.
She pried open her eyes, still puffy and wet with tears from the night before. She could smell freshly cooked bacon and French vanilla coffee, which was her mother’s favorite. She knew it was going to be a “good day”. She swung her legs off the bed, careful not to wake her two sisters still sleeping next to her. The floor creaked as she shifted her weight to her feet. Lexi froze as her younger sister Tess sat up and looked at her. She was smiling, as she had come to the same realization that Lexi had just moments before. Tess was the youngest aside from their baby brother, Duncan. She was the most timid, but to everyone else she was known as “the pretty one”. She had the typical blonde hair, blue eyes and stick thin figure. She was beautiful, much different from Lexi’s dishwater blonde hair and somewhat corpulent stance. She pushed back the covers, clambering over their oldest sister Serenity, waking her up. Serenity was the oldest. She was equally as beautiful, with hair the color of cherry Dr. Pepper. Her eyes, green like grass when the sun hits it. She wore mostly dark clothing and skinny jeans. She wasn’t afraid of being different. In fact, she liked being different.
The three sisters made a brisk walk into the kitchen where Patricia, their mother stood in front of the pile of dishes in the sink. She was staring out the window into the front yard where Duncan was playing alone. She noticed the girls and gestured toward the table where the plates of bacon and eggs sat waiting for them. Lexi glances at her mom, trying not to make it obvious that she’s trying to get a better look at her busted lip and bulging black eye. Serenity seemed equally as interested but as always, her interest came out more sarcastic in words. “What happened this time?” Her mother glared intensely from across the room, warning her to keep her mouth shut.
The back-bedroom door creaks open and the house grows quiet. Footsteps can be heard slowly approaching the front of the house, and it seems even the trees outside do not dare sway in the wind. Patricia continues cleaning in the kitchen as the girls bury their faces into their breakfast. The heavy footsteps stop in the kitchen as Duncan swings open the front door. “Morning Daddy.”