The dove is still flying above me, as I risk a glance at it. Good. I keep running. I just have to keep checking that the dove is there. And running. If I stop running, it's all over. I can hear the monster panting, loping, catching up. I can feel its breathe on my neck, I can smell it, it smells like – I see a mansion up ahead, looming, mocking me. If I can just reach it, reach the safety of that ominous gate... I look up again. The dove is gone. I trip on a root, and fall,
I wake, falling off of the sofa, slick with sweat. "Fifth night this week..." I mumble to myself. As the dream fades, I shiver. What did it's breathe smell of? Isn't that just the question of the week? I know it's important, I know it's familiar... and I know it's gone again, I won't get it, not tonight, not ever.
I get up and make myself a coffee, realising that this will be the last night I spend here, before moving to the new place outside town. Maybe these dreams will be left behind.
And maybe life is full of only rainbows and happiness. Maybe life is all dove, no beast. 'Cause that's ever true.
I think about the dove a lot. It seems important; in these dreams I'm almost more aware of it than I am of the monster. It is a splash of purity in a sea of evil; a light of hope in a world with none. My connection to sanity. I shake my head, as if to try and throw these thoughts out. It doesn't matter, it's just a dream. The horror is over now.
I hear keys jangle. The front door unlocks, and is replaced by a drunken silhouette. As Geoff staggers to the bedroom, I shrink back and try to stop my shaking. He doesn't see me. I don't think he's even registered that I sleep on the sofa yet. All for the best, I think.
When I hear him snore, I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding. I empty my mug, and brave sleep again, more to pass the time than rest, as I know that rest is the last thing I'll get.
By 11AM the next morning we were on the road, travelling away from the world I knew, towards my first glimpse of the future.
But oh, if only it were my first! As we round the last corner, and my new home comes into view from behind the trees, I jump on the brakes. Geoff spills his beer, but I barely notice. All I can see is the mansion from my dreams, laid in front of me, my name on the deed. I dimly become aware of Geoff yelling at me, "What's your fucking problem!? Drive!"
I put the car into first, and creep towards the gates, their dream-visage of safety, gone. As I get out of the car to open them, I see a dove fly overhead, and don't know whether to be reassured or distraught. We drive up to the door and get out, taking the few boxes filled with our possessions; the mansion was pre-furnished, so everything else was being sold with our old house. When we were finished unpacking, it was dinnertime. Geoff was unusually subdued, which was a godsend. After dinner, we go straight to bed. He falls straight asleep. I envy him that, as I lie awake, all too conscious of his body next to me. Of his heat, his arm across my chest. His smell, anger, alcohol, and worst of all, the faintest trace of the man I once loved.
Eventually, I start to drift off. Sleep finds me, as I fall into it, fall,
I trip on a root and fall, instantly scrambling to get back up, to get through the gate, to get away. It's breath is hot on my neck, it's wetting my neck, I check the gate, it's too far away, too far, too far by far, the dove's sitting on it the dove crows the dove turns inside out the dove is a raven the gate is too far the beast is too close the gate is there the gate is too heavy the monster is upon me the breathe is upon me the breathe is... the breathe is...
Anger. Alcohol. The faintest trace of a man I once loved.
I turn, and I look at the monster. I see not my husband. I see myself. The one who went back for more, the one who knew the consequences of men like that.
I attack me with a knife, and I defend, tears streaming down both my faces. I'm on both sides, neither a copy, neither a fake. Monster and victim. Prisoner and jailer. We fight, killing ourselves with each hit. And when we should both have been dead, we both just faded.
We woke, sitting bolt upright. The knife was still in our hands. It's job wasn't finished yet.
Our head turned, to the slowly waking mass of our husband, the latest cell we've put ourselves in. And we break out of it. We stab it in the heart, the act freeing ourselves from our own sentence. He is dead. We have acted. We will be victim no longer!
"Goodbye, father." We plunge the knife in, freeing ourselves completely from the shadow of our past.
Somewhere outside, a raven crows, and I know that it is my raven, the one from my dream. I look at the knife, at my dying father. I collapse, in tears. Monster. That's what I was.
The victim had left, leaving only the monster.
The demon on my chest.