Kate awoke with a gasp, as the pulse surged through veins, and wiped the perspiration beads from her forehead. Tried to swallow the dry lump as she blinked at the red numbers, trapped in that space between asleep and awake. “Only a nightmare,” and turned off her alarm clock that never had a chance to blurt its awakening curse. She tried to ignore the lower gut-gnawing sensation of panicked fear that shivered along her spine.
With her favourite, Eggs Benedict, Kate smiled serving her ‘fancified’ breakfast. Smoothed her son’s hair, who frowned, ducked, and not looking away from his game he shoved his plate of eggs aside to reach for the cereal. The daughter tipped the toppings to gnaw on a toasted muffin edge while tapping on her phone. The husband scanned the headlines on his tablet as his fork blindly stabbed at the plate.
“I had a nightmare,” Kate proclaimed to her family.
They ignored her.
“I said…” clearing her throat, Kate sat at the table, reached across her daughter’s line of vision where her palm covered her son’s tablet, the other on her husband’s wrist. “I had a nightmare last night.”
They looked at her and blinked.
“I was in front of a gravesite where a priest was performing the last rites.”
“A premonition?” The daughter returned her glance to her phone. Father and son mirrored a half eye roll to each other and resumed to their vices.
“I think so. But I never saw the name and it scared me. So, I want you all to be extra careful today.”
“Whatever, mum.” The son rose from the table.
“I mean it.” Kate followed and hugged him, then watched the re-ruffle of hair her son spent ages perfecting the messy cool, and spill workbooks from his backpack to the floor. “Those go in your room.”
She’d pick them up herself. They both knew it. “Be careful today.” Kate hugged her daughter who was too busy tapping on her phone’s screen. Then turned to her husband who was patting his jacket’s pockets for wallet and phone. “Careful driving.”
“Yep. Gotta go or we’ll be late.” He gave his wife a peck on the cheek and headed for the door juggling keys in hand.
“I love you all.” Kate watched them leave without a backward glance, not even a goodbye. “Be safe.” The words echoed with the slam of the front door that was soon swallowed by the pressing silence of an empty house.
She cleared away the breakfast table, flicked on the tap to fill the sink. Turned to wipe the bench. Lifted the toaster to wipe away the breadcrumbs. When her footing slipped on her son’s glossy covered workbooks. She gripped the sink as the toaster fell into the soapy water. The lights flickered in the house and the smell of burnt hair and an acrid electrical smoke permeated the air.
Everything fell silent, including Kate, dead before her body crumbled to the floor.