She was surrounded by a forest, towering redwoods on either side of her parted down the middle to a near perfect path. A mist rolled out from between the massive trunks and she squinted to see the other end of the wooded path.
A figure emerged, walking towards her. The steps were slow and careful; the figure seemed to be holding something in its right hand. The mist started to roll back into the trees as the figure came closer.
It was a child. A small girl dressed in a purple nightgown, holding a doll from yarn dressed as hair and dragging it behind her. The child’s own hair, thick like yarn and black as the night, curtained one jade eye as the other looked through the fading mist.
The girl held out her left hand as she came closer – only a few yards away now – and now a tear rolled from the eye not covered by dark curls.
Agnes awoke with a start. She stared at the peeling white paint on the ceiling above her until her breathing normalized and she could no longer feel her heart pounding against her ribs.
She turned onto her side and looked at the lump next to her. Henry emitted a snore loud enough to cause the dog sleeping at their feet to raise his head. The old Akita looked at Agnes and she could have sworn he gave her a look of amusement.
“I know Buster. It’s alright now. Go back to sleep.” She whispered but the dog did not listen. He rose up and burrowed himself in between his owners, resting his head under Agnes’s hand. She ran her fingers through the thick fawn-colored coat. When she closed her eyes, the image of the little dark-haired girl from her dream stayed with her. Sleep would evade her the rest of the night. With one hand stroking the dog’s soft fur, she reached to the nightstand and grabbed the e-reader she had specifically for nights like this.
Henry had bought her the e-reader when she’d turned on her bedside lamp one night to do some reading and the light had awoken him. While he would have preferred a way to help his wife sleep, the easier choice was to buy the small electronic book with a built-in light to make it easy for her to read in the dark bedroom, but would not wake him up. Agnes knew Henry had no idea how many nights she spent reading science fiction stories just to keep her mind off her past. She didn’t live there anymore. She wanted it to stop knocking on the door.