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,” she murmured, turning off her alarm clock that never had a chance to blurt its awakening curse while trying 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. She smoothed down her son’s hair, who frowned, ducked, while not looking away from his game he shoved his plate of eggs aside to reach for the cereal. Her daughter tipped the toppings to gnaw on a toasted muffin edge while tapping on her phone, and her 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.
As per usual.
“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, as the other held her husband’s wrist. “I had a nightmare last night.”
They just blinked at her.
“I was in front of a gravesite where a priest was performing the last rites.”
“A premonition,” said the daughter, returning her attention to her phone. Father and son mirrored a half eye roll to each other and also resumed to stare at 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,” muttered her son as he rose from the table.
“I mean it,” said Kate, following she hugged him. She grinned at him while ruffling up his hair that her son had spent ages in front of the mirror trying to perfect his messy cool. With a wild head flick, he spilled his workbooks from his backpack and onto the floor. “Those go in your room.”
“Later, don’t need them for today’s class.”
She’d pick them up herself and they both knew it.
“Be careful today,” Kate said, hugging her daughter who was too busy tapping on her phone’s screen. Then she 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 the car keys in hand.
“I love you all,” cried out Kate, watching them leave without a backward glance. None of them even said goodbye. “Be safe.” Her 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 as the smell of burnt hair and an acrid electrical smoke permeated the air, but it wasn’t enough to set off the fire alarm.
Everything fell silent, including Kate, dead before her body crumbled to the floor.
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