Hi, all! My challenge was to write something based on "Pied Piper," episode 2.19, from Zoe's point of view. This takes place somewhere in the middle of the episode.
"No!" I scream as I jolt myself awake, frantically sitting up and trying to get my bearings. I realize I'm in my own bedroom, and I'm not being held down by that monster. I pause and take a few deep breaths, trying to calm down, but it's not working. My heart is racing, my hands are shaking, and a clammy sweat makes my pajamas cling to my skin. The bedclothes are bunched and tangled around my legs-no wonder I felt like I was trapped. I kick off the covers and pull my legs up to my chest. My arms close tightly around my legs, and I fight to keep the tears from flowing. I've never been this unnerved in my life. I hate this feeling. I like being in control, and recently, I've been just the opposite.
Not just the ones in my sleep. The one that's been building for seventeen years. I try to keep from thinking about Jason Wilkie, but I have no distractions, and he's consuming my every thought.
Some images are burned into one's mind forever. I won't forget the moment that curtain was opened, and I saw him strapped down to the table. I saw Faye Sheridan look away, and I wished I could have done the same, but I needed to see that, to see him. To be reassured that he could never hurt another child ever again.
But watching the life drain from someone changes a person, regardless of ones feelings toward the deceased.
Emily is standing in the doorway. It's apparent that she's been standing there for a while, trying to get my attention. There's just enough light in the room for me to see her face. She's worried. Because of me.
"Mom?" she calls again.
"Hey, Em." My voice is barely above a whisper.
"What's wrong?" she asks and moves toward me.
"I'm fine." I'm a terrible liar, especially when I'm emotionally fragile.
"Mom," she prompts knowingly, "people who wake up in the middle of the night screaming are not okay. What's going on?"
I sigh and hold out a hand to her, which she takes as she sits on the edge of the bed. Worry lines trace across her forehead. She shouldn't have to worry about me.
"Some things are just better left unsaid, Em," I tell her, using the index finger on my free hand to rub away the crinkles on her forehead.
She's her father's daughter, and she immediately knows I'm trying to move the focus of this conversation somewhere other than on me. She pulls away just enough so that my hand falls from her forehead. "Not if they're affecting you like this. You can talk to me."
But I can't tell her. I need to protect her. "Normally, honey, yes. But not about this."
"I'm not a little girl, Mom."
She's right. I know that. And I know she's got adult-sized problems of her own. She doesn't need me adding mine to the mix. "When did you get so grown up?" I ask, trying again to steer her away from my problems.
"It's about that guy who was executed," she states.
I say nothing and she knows she's right.
We are silent for over a minute before Emily speaks again. "Are you going to be okay?"
She knows I'm not 'okay' at the moment, but she's chosen her words well. "I will be," I tell her.
"Would it be okay if I slept in here the rest of the night?"
"Of course, Em," I say, squeezing her hand. I know she's doing this for me, and I'm grateful that I have the best daughter in the world. She knows when to push for replies and when to just be there, offering silent comfort.
She lets go of my hand and climbs over me, pulling up the covers. We settle back against the pillows, and she nestles against me, something she hasn't done in many years. With my arms around her, burning tears silently flow from my eyes and disappear into my hair. My tears are for Rex, a little boy I never knew, who died before my Emily was born and for Emily, my 'not a little girl,' who amazes me every day. I hold her tighter and listen as her breathing changes. I know there's no sleep in my future tonight, but I'm glad she's able to drift off again so quickly. In the days to come, I know she'll worry about me; there's nothing I can do to prevent that. But tonight, it's best that only one of us be haunted by my nightmares.
Thanks for reading!