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The thing about nightmares is that when you wake up, it’s supposed to be over. You’re supposed to wake up screaming for mommy, turn the lights on, and see your familiar pooh bear in the corner, next to the toppled over Thomas the Tank Engine and Barbie’s Dream House.
The thing about dreaming you’re abandoned, cold, tired, and hungry, is that when you wake up you’re supposed to wrap your blankets around you tighter as you sneak downstairs for a glass of milk. And when your nightmare is reality, your dreams are supposed to be an escape.
There was no escape for Annie. Bad dreams were a sign of an evil mind. Evil minds must be starved. Go to the priest. Ask forgiveness. Father, please forgive me. I’m so cold. I’m so hungry. But the father sits and grins drunkenly, holding up a forkful of steak. You want to eat? How badly? What will you do to eat?
Tears stream down her face as she trudges back home, trying to stop the bleeding; terrified of what mommy will say… terrified of what mommy will do. She stares at her fingers in fear. Must hide the blood. Must hide. Mommy cannot see. Mommy will know. It’s crusted over and won’t rub off on her tattered dress. She pops her fingers in her mouth to wash away the shame. She creeps into bed and closes her eyes, praying for just one night of release.
But the shadows grow larger and evermore fearsome. She whimpers and pulls the ragged covers over her head, but the evil shadows crawl through. She can no longer suffocate the scream.
Wicked child. Evil child. Have you learned nothing? Go see the father. Beg forgiveness. Maybe there is hope for you yet. But all it brings her is the taste of her own blood and never-ending nightmares. She is ravenous with hunger when she sees a crippled bird struggling in the bushes. She hesitates only a moment before she tears its wretched head off and pops it in her mouth.
And at night the father appears before her, his feathered hands holding up meat, the blood pooling around his mouth and down his greasy arm, asking her what she will do for food. She has finally had enough. She’s terrified out of her mind. She grabs the fork and stabs it in his eye. The blood sprays into her face, into her mouth. Madness takes over as her shrieks mix with his and she stabs wildly with the steak knife, slicing his throat like a carved turkey.
The moon finally breaks through the shadows, illuminating what’s left of a young girl, chewing softly on finger stubs, a broken cross clenched in her hand.
Credit To: Ketlyn Austen