While you sleep

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8

He was walking stealthily towards the suspicious noise. He passed the nursery, frowning when he saw that it had yet to be graced with its tiny resident. He picked up the pace when he heard the THUD again, hoping to find the source of the sound. Once he reached the kitchen, he heard it getting louder THUD THUD THUD, when he crossed the parlor, he saw the front door was wide open, slamming the wall as the wind howled against it. When he finished scanning the room for intruders, he ran to it and closed it, making sure to lock it.

He turned around and sunk down against the door. He had been having this dream for the past week, it always ended with his sobs echoing through the empty house. However, this time was different, he heard his deceased wife’s voice call out to him. He stood and ran towards her voice, hoping that he would get to her before he woke up. He made it upstairs, past all the doors and the frighteningly narrow staircase that led to their room. When he got to the door, he abruptly stopped his pursuit and his breath hitched.

She was sitting on the bed, her left eye was bruised and swollen, her dress was shredded and her legs were bloody. He walked towards her but she put out her hand to stop him. What the hell kind of dream was this? Why was his brain torturing him this way? He didn’t need to relive the days where he found her this way, in pain and lost.

″You need to finish the house Andrew.″

He look bewildered, what the hell was she going on about? He tried to approach her again, but she repeated the hand gesture.

″I don’t have much time my love, please, you need to finish the house. I can’t cross over until you do.″

She stood up, her eyes wide and a shrieked escaped her mouth. She looked terrified. He knew the look. A look he had seen only when she sensed her father was close. She moved towards him and reached out her hand, when he did the same, she disappeared.

Andrew woke up drenched in sweat, his covers were balled up as though he had fought with them and his eyes were bewildered. What the hell was that dream? He walked to the bathroom, pulling off his clothes as he went. He tossed it aside and splashed some cold water on his face. He looked at himself in the mirror and groaned. He looked just as horrible as he felt. He looked like someone had socked him good in both eyes, the black deep and menacing. His usually smooth face was rough with thick stubble and his hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in a year. He turned on the shower and washed himself as fast and as good as he could, trying not to think about the horrible dream.

One month had passed since she had been taken from them. One month of doing nothing but wallowing in despair, wanting nothing more than to join her. He knew she would hate hearing his thoughts if she could. He had their daughter to think of. A daughter he had yet to name. They had talked about so many different ones, but none of them seemed to fit her. She was a perfect little thing, thriving more and more every single day. He spent every day with her while he sank to the depths of sorrow.

Seeing her in the incubator always brought him back to reality when he opened his eyes. He had nothing but pure love for her and he knew that Gwen would want him to fight past his grief so that she could have a good father. He had been scared when he had learned that he was a father. Overjoyed, but scared nonetheless.

He was terrified of doing something wrong but he tried to remember the words his wife had told him over and over so many times. We are human, we make mistakes. What counts is what you do to fix them.

Today was the day. Little unnamed baby was finally going to be going home with him. Fear almost crippled him, doubt tried to join in on the fun, but he was able to conquer it all when he stared down at the tiny girl. I will be strong for you my angel. I will fight my demons so I can be the best father to you. He was walking down the long sterile hallway, his daughter was in her car seat, when he stopped dead in his tracks. He couldn't believe who was standing next to the doors to their freedom.


Deirdre looked down at her sleeping daughter. She looked so peaceful, like an angel. She couldn't believe she had made such a perfect thing. She brushed an unruly strand of hair off her small face and leaned down to kiss her forehead.
5 year later
The room was stark, people sat in small groups, some were playing cards, others were reading, most were staring off into the distance, unblinking. Deirdre was one of them. She sat on the couch, while a rerun of I love Lucy played on the television. The two women who sat beside her were reciting the script and laughing obnoxiously. Deirdre felt nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing, recited nothing. Her mind was blank.

''What the hell are you doing here?''
Andrew backed away when he saw Deirdre approaching them. He was going to protect his daughter with every ounce of his being.
''Please Andrew, can we speak?''
The woman looked down, ashamed. She knew that she didn't deserve forgiveness, but she was damned if she wouldn't try to get it. She knew Andrew would have a hard time accepting she was here, but she wanted to be a part of her grandchild's life more than anything. She had already lost a daughter, she didn't want to lose any other part of her.
''Please.''
She would get down on her hands and knees if she needed, she wasn't beyond begging for the cause at hand. She looked at her son in law with hopeful eyes, she wanted nothing more than for them to be close as well. She knew she was dreaming. He blamed her for what had happened to Gwen all those years ago. He wasn't wrong, but he wasn't right. It was a complicated mess.
She hadn't had enough strength to leave her husband and it had ended up with her having a breakdown and her daughter being stuck with a real monster. Deirdre would forever blame herself for not getting out of her breakdown sooner, but like her psychiatrist told her repeatedly, she couldn't have done so even if she wanted to. Being severely depressed was something you couldn't just get over.
It took time. Time Gwen didn't have back then. When she was better, she reached out to Gwen and Andrew, but time had not healed any wounds. They had wanted nothing to do with her at the time. Over the years, Gwen had reached out again, but Andrew knew nothing about that. Deirdre sighed and waited to see if Andrew would come closer.
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