The sheets beneath Evelyn Richardson’s hand were scrunched; the folded layers were not enough of a deterrent for the nails digging into her palm. A brush of skin—Carl was awakening. That had not been her intention. It never was.
Carl gently brushed aside a sweep of her hair from her face buried deep within her pillow. “Again?”
Evelyn nodded, her face and pillow damp from the tears she must have wept as she watched the horrifying scene play before her. She was unable to cry out, to stop what she might have been able to stop eleven years ago. “I’m sorry…”
He shook his head with his eyes closed. He never asked why she kept reliving the same nightmare. His silence, his unquestioning eyes delayed her guilt. Yet, she always felt the need to explain herself.
“Clyde told you what happened?”
He nodded, his eyes now open.
Instead of a bunched sheet in her hand, she, even now, could feel the stems of the wax flowers bound by satin ribbon. She and Carl, along with their children, had been on an innocent family outing to the Public Gardens before such a jarring memento from the past had shaken her happy countenance as a dog animatedly shakes excess water from an unwanted bath. She had found the bouquet on a bench, sitting patiently for its recipient to find it. Only one person could have known how much she loved them. He was no longer alive.
“I haven’t had this nightmare in a while. It must have come…I saw the flowers, and the memories flooded back. I don’t understand why he haunts me still. You would think that after all this time the past would be put to rest.”
Carl’s thumb lazily rubbed her cheek, “One would think. Go to sleep, Evelyn.” He pressed his chest against her back and held her tight.
Aching, she cried fresh tears for her husband’s hurting heart. She wondered where Carl’s thoughts wandered when he knew she dreamt of Gerald and his sudden departure from this life ten years ago.
Just as the sun began to peep over the horizon, Evelyn heard the padding of little feet walk toward her bed. She was barely cognizant of the fact that her youngest cherub Clara had crawled into bed. Only the skin to skin contact of Clara’s small hands on her cheeks made her aware of the routine intruder.
Clara planted a wet kiss on the tip of Evelyn’s nose before turning over and snuggling her body into her mother’s soft form.
Evelyn slurred, “Couldn’t sleep?”
Clara chirped, “Mummy, it’s nearly morning. Are you all right? I heard you crying.”
Evelyn’s heart sunk a little, knowing her darling girl could hear her anguish. “Mummy had a bad dream, that’s all. Don’t you worry about it. All right?”
Clara drew her mother’s hand toward her lips to give a kiss of reassurance. “Yes, mummy.”
About an hour later, Evelyn was duty-bound to rise from her bed and make breakfast for the children she still raised at home, Carl’s own children. Only one had flown from the nest, Clyde, the orphan she had...