Maura awoke startled to what she thought was whimpering. She looked at her alarm clock and it read three twenty two am.
"Alex, better not be sneaking a run in.." she thought to herself. She began to get out of bed just as she heard a scream come from down the hall. She rushed into her little sisters room to find Alex sitting up in bed drenched in sweat.
"What happened?!" Maura turned on the bedroom lights.
Alex just sat in the bed trying to catch her breath. Once she did she became so emotional that she started crying.
"Oh, no baby... Did you have a bad dream?"
"I don't know... I ..." Alex had tears streaming down her face. Maura pulled back the sheets to see just how soaked the girl was.
"Shhhhh... it's okay. It's okay." Maura pulled her sister to her so she was almost sitting on her lap. She held her head on her chest while her baby sister cried in her arms. About ten minutes later Alex had begun to fall back asleep.
"Alex, wake up. I have to change these sheets, you need to change your clothes." Maura pushed Alex's hair out of her face.
Alex groaned and pushed Maura away and laid back down.
"No, no I know you're tired, but come on. You can't sleep like this."
The girl got out of bed and stumbled around the room. Maura stripped the sheets off and reached in the closet for new ones.
"What were you dreaming about?"
Alex shrugged her shoulders and stared off into space as she sat in her chair. Maura could tell she was just exhausted.
"You don't know? Or you don't want to tell me?" Maura shoved the pillow into the fresh case.
Alex wiped away tears from her face and rubbed her eyes.
"Okay, you don't have to tell me right now." She bent down in front of her sister and grabbed her hands. She took Alex's chin and adjusted her face so she was looking at her. "Alex, do you want to sleep in my room?" Alex's eyes moved to Mauras. She shook her head yes. "Okay, get your pillow and your soft blanket and come on..."
As the two lay there Maura ran her hands through her sisters hair. She could no longer sleep. Every time Alex would fall back to sleep she would whimper and cry. Maura had no idea how long this had been going on. She felt so much pain for her baby sister and suddenly realized there was so much about her past she just didn't know. She wondered what could be causing these nightmares.
The next morning Maura sat in her kitchen with Jane. With it being Saturday, they both shared hopes of not being called into work.
"Maura what's wrong you look exhausted." Jane attempted to get Maura's espresso machine to work..."This thing... can we just go to Starbucks?"
"I can't leave Alex." Maura yawned and came to assist Jane.
"Whaddya mean? My ma is in the guest house. "
"Last night Alex woke up in the middle of the night screaming. She started crying and was so upset I had to change the sheets because of all the perspiration."
"She is having nightmares?"
"I believe she is having night terrors. They occur during NREM sleep as opposed to regular dreams or nightmares. They are often the result of some type of psychological conflict or a trauma."
"Trauma? Do you think it could be about losing her mother?"
"No. She was much too young. This is just odd. Night terrors at her age are extremely rare. There is something she is not telling me."
About a half hour later Alex walks into the kitchen still in her pjs.
"Hi sweet pea." Jane gives her a kiss on the head.
"Morning. Am I too late for breakfast?"
"No. Of course not. Breakfast is very important for your growing body. Do you want eggs or a bagel?" Maura stood across the island from where Alex sat.
"Um..a bagel. With peanut butter." As Maura pops the bagel into the toaster Jane plays with Alex's strawberry blonde hair.
"So, do you wanna talk about last night?" Jane pulled Alex's hair behind her shoulders.
"Yah, I know I'm in trouble. I am really sorry if that helps. I'm just not used to having to answer to anyone that was actually concerned about my safety." Alex took a sip of her orange juice.
"Alex, we were actually wanting to talk about your bad dreams." Maura placed a bagel in front of her little sister.
Alex shrugged her shoulders and took a bite of her bagel.
"Is that a- I don't wanna talk about it?" Jane sat beside Alex on the stool.
"What do you remember about last night Alex?" Maura asked.
"I mean, I know I had a bad dream, I don't typically remember waking up much though. My old foster mother used to tell me I wet the bed... did I..?
"No. You didn't. She was wrong. You were perspiring so much that you soaked your sheets. What did you think when you woke up in my room this morning?"
"I wasn't really sure... this happens a lot. I'm sorry. I don't ever remember much besides what people tell me. Running always has helped me fall back asleep... but I'm not aloud to do that anymore." Alex flashed a coy smile at her sister.
"Do you know what you dream about?"
"Why is this such a big thing?" She pushed her bagel around on her plate.
"I believe you are having night terrors."
"Bad dreams? Yah- most people have them."
"No not bad dreams. People typically have these because something is really bothering them. Can you please tell me what you dream about?" Maura softened her voice in hopes that Alex would open up to her.
"I just- I don't know. A lot of things. My life hasn't exactly been a walk in the park like yours."
"Alex, I know there is something more to this. Please trust me with your secrets. I won't let anything bad happen to you. I just want to help you." Maura reached across the counter and touched Alex's hand.
Alex took a deep breath. "Well, when I was ten, right after my good foster family passed, I was put in a home with Striker and his little sister Kella. They were really nice at first... but then the man one night he.." Alex stopped suddenly.
"He what baby? Did he hurt you?" Jane pushed.
"Well he hit me hard over the head cus I talked back. I remember waking up and he had pulled off my pants and he was- he was hurting me really bad...I begged him to stop so many times and he would put his hand over my mouth. I remember feeling his hips push into the insides of my legs and it hurt. I tried to focus on something else but-" A tear fell down the little girls face. "Striker came in a saw him and hit him with a bat. He got Kella and we got everything we could in our backpacks and ran to the train station. We had to sleep in the train that night. I remember someone came and kicked us out."
Maura held her hand over her mouth as tears fell down her face. She went around the island and grabbed her baby. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to protect you." Alex let Maura hold her for awhile. It felt so nice to let someone hold her. When she finally pulled away she had stopped crying and Maura had clearly lost it.
"I'm gonna go take a shower- it's okay Maura. It's been two years... I'm okay now." Alex got up and left the room. She left two grown women sitting there in shambles.
"Jane-" Maura looked to her best friend.
"I know. Maura listen- when I find this man- and I will, he is going to wish Striker has killed him when he hit him with that bat."
Maura shook her head and Jane hugged her. "I just forgot... it was going so well. I forgot that she comes from such a difficult past. What do I do? My heart breaks for her and I don't know how to help her."
"You just hold her. You be her person that never lets her down. "
"I love her so much Jane-"
Around the corner Alex listened to her sister from the hall. She had never told anyone else about her rape. It broke her as person at such a young age. She thought all she would ever have in life for a family was Striker and Kella. Finally- she knew she had a home.