“How’s your lip?”  Alex asked, reaching up to touch it.

Hurt flickered in his eyes as I flinched away from his hand, not certain where he balanced in all of this yet.

“Fine,” I answered.  “What happened out there today?”

His lips pressed together in a hard line.  “You had a really bad day,” he said, standing with his hands in his swim truck pockets.

“I need more than that, Alex.”

He shook his head apologetically.  “I can’t offer you more.  It’s over now, you’re safe.”

“Am I?”

Alex flashed one of his heart stammering smiles that could have only been designed to distract.  I refused to let it work, but the closer I got to telling him about what I saw, the less convincing I sounded to myself.  I forced a weak smile, wincing as it stretched the cut on my lip.  I decided to let the matter go for now, until I figured out exactly what to say.

The house was quiet as I entered, but unfailing, Constance and Evie were there waiting, wondering how I was.  I put my hands up and assured them that I was fine.  Matt ran down the stairs, jumping the last two steps at the bottom.

He raised his hands, bellowing in a deep Frankenstein voice, “She’s alive!”

I laughed.  Nothing phased this kid.

I passed on dinner, explaining that I was tired and wanted to go to bed early.  I promised Constance that I would come find her if I started feeling bad, then excused myself to the guest room.

As soon as I closed the door behind me, my hands began to tremble uncontrollably and my heart raced anxiously.  At this point, I wasn’t convinced that I hadn’t lost my last ounce of sanity, and that thought terrified me almost as much as the alternative.

After my shower, all I wanted to do was push from my mind everything I felt and saw, and the only way I could think to accomplish that was to sleep.

I don’t usually condone the casual misuse of medications, but today I would make an exception.  I took from my bag of bathroom necessities a couple of Nyquil’s, swallowed them down with water from the faucet, and slipped into bed.

It was the first nightmare I’d had in years.

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