Of Nightmares and Mothers
Alina had been waiting months for this holiday to come. It was one of her favorite days of the year. And not just for the candy or the costumes; it was the magic in the air that attracted her. And it was also one of the few moments in which she could go out and be a normal girl; since her mother death, nothing had been the same.
In 2009, when Alina was only eight years old, her mother died. A drunk driver drove over her as she came home from work. Her death left both her husband and her daughter, devastated. The latter, even though she was little, suffered a severe depression she couldn't get out of, for months. And her husband became really paranoid, to the point of insanity. After that day, he never touched another drop of alcohol; he started driving extremely slow and carefully; and, above all, he became his daughter's prison guard.
He feared to lose his little girl so much, he started taking care of her excessively; he didn't let her do anything. Alina's day to day routine became: house, school, house, school. She stopped seeing her friends and left all her extracurricular activities. Edelmar, her father, took her everywhere with him and panicked if he lost sight of her for more than a couple of hours.
When all of it started, the girl didn't really care. In fact, she didn't even notice. She was so wrapped up in her own misery she didn't even consider going out with her friends. She thought it was inappropriate; having fun when her mother had died not long ago. And she loved going everywhere with her dad; it scared her to lose her only leaving parent. She didn't want to become an orphan and go to a group house she had seen in movies.
However, months past and Alina recovered from her depression. She started to be the happy girl she was before. She wanted to be like she was before; she missed her friends and playing with them. Just then, she realized what was happening to her father. He wouldn't let her go to her classmates' house, not even for homework, and that angered her. Still, she didn't dare say anything; she was just a little girl and her father, an intelligent grown-up. Alina trusted him blindly; to her, her father was like a god. She was sure he knew was he was doing.
Years passed and Alina became a total outcast. The friends she had before and the rest of her classmates thought she was weird because she never left her house. Nobody invited her to birthday parties and when they had to do group projects, nobody wanted to be with her because she couldn't go out after class. With eleven years of age, Alina felt almost as bad as when her mother died. She didn't want to be alone anymore; she resented her father for separating her from the rest of the kids.
One day, the girl got tired. She had heard some horrible kids whispering at her back while she was walking to class. They talked about how Alina was a freak, part of a Satan-worshiping cult, led by her father and that that was the reason she could never go out. It was a stupid rumor and she knew it, but it still hurt like someone had stabbed her. She ran to the bathroom and cried her eyes out; not caring she was missing her Math class. People entered the bathroom and saw her, but nobody helped her or offered a kind word. Some girls even laughed at her. It was then that Alina found the courage to finally stand up to her father and demand her to let her be a normal girl again.
That afternoon, the whole neighborhood heard the yells of both father and daughter, until late into the night. Edelmar was too scared of losing her daughter, it didn't matter how much Alina begged and cried. And the girl, on the other hand, had her mind set on ceasing to be a pariah and didn't give up. It wasn't until hours later when they got to an agreement; Alina could go out of the house unsupervised, but only especial occasions. Among them was Halloween. And that was why the girl was so excited for the arrival of October 31th every year.
Halloween of 2015 started like every other day, only with some slight variations. The night of the 30th, Alina had a horrible nightmare. About her mother. It wasn't the first time she dreamed about her; since her death, the girl dreamed constantly of reuniting with her mom. But this time was different.
Alina was on a hallway, surrounded by books. She twirled around herself, in an attempt to locate where she was. Then she realized: she was on the public library a few blocks from her home; one of her mother's favorite places in the world. She hadn't thought about that place in years. She had spent so much time in that library with her mom when she was a kid; reading, talking, laughing.
It was then when she saw her, sitting near a window like she used to. She wore the long blue dress Alina had last seen her in; her brown hair cascaded down her back. The girl had always wished for a hair like hers; she thought it would bring her closer to her mother somehow. Instead, she had gotten her father's straight, boring, dirty blonde hair.
"Mommy?" asked Alina softly, but the brunette didn't even look at her; she didn't seem to have heard her. "Mommy, it's me, Ali. ¿Mom? ¿Can you hear me?"
She felt her heart in her throat. Her pulse was raising and her hands were shaking. She yearned to hear her mother's voice so much it physically hurt. However, her mom didn't turn around. Alina's eyes filled with tears; this was beyond cruel.
"Mom, I'm your daughter! Look at me," yelled the girl desperate. "Please, mommy. Please."
Her legs felted weak under her and she fell on her knees to the ground, sobbing. They were so close to each other and even so, her mother couldn't hear her. Alina crawled across the carpet to reach the brunette, who still hadn't looked at her. She took her progenitor's hand and realized startled, how cold she was. It didn't feel right; when she was alive, she had always had warm hands. Alina remembered how, in winter, her mom used to take her hands in hers to give them warmth.
"Mommy, are you cold? Please explain to me what's happening. I don't get it. Mom?"
"It's not your fault, you know," said a voice suddenly.
The girl raised her head, thinking maybe her mother had finally heard her and talked back. But that wasn't the case. The person that had talked was not her mom, but a boy; he must have been around Alina's age, and had dark hair and eyes that were somewhere between brown and green.
"It's not you," he said again. "It's not your fault."
And she woke up.
As soon as she opened he eyes, she started bawling like a baby. It hadn't been a nightmare per se, but it had broken her heart anyways.That was how her father found her hours later; sobbing uncontrollably in her bed. As soon as he saw her, Edelmar approached her daughter and put an arm around her, protectively.
"Ali, what's wrong? Are you nervous about today? Because if that's it, you don't need to go anywhere. We can stay home and watch Halloween movies while we eat the candy I bought for the kids today," said the father, trying to comfort her daughter.
Hearing that, Alina's tears stopped flowing; she couldn't handle her dad revoking her permission to go trick or treating. She wanted to be alone and free, even if it was only for a couple of hours. Besides, she already had her costume ready and she wasn't going to waste it.
"No, dad. I'm fine. It was just a bad dream, that's all" she answered, trying to make her voice sound calm and mature.
"Okay, then," said Edelmar, still unsure. "I'm going to go to the supermarket; to buy food and stuff. You should continue sleeping; it's Saturday and you need your full strength for tonight. And you look like you could use some extra hours of sleep."
With that said, the father of the blonde turned off the lights and abandoned the room, shutting the door softly.
At first, Alina didn't want to continue sleeping. And not because she wasn't tired; she was. She felt her eyes heavy and didn't even have the strength to stand up. But she feared the nightmares; she didn't want to dream about her mother again. She couldn't stop thinking of her lavender perfume and the smoothness of her hands.
That's how she fell asleep finally; with the characteristic smell of her deceased mother still in her nose.