Summary: It was better she didn't know…
Author's Notes: My first entry for the 5_prompts challenge community. This one wanted to be original fiction (which I never write), based on this pictorial prompt:
Sometimes when she woke, it was already noon. Those were the days she dreaded.
She would struggle to open her eyes against the glare of sunlight, hoping she'd overslept, that the flu or a hard week had worn her down. It was never that simple.
The heaviness in her body wasn't sickness, and the blood under her fingernails (on the bathmat, the towels) spoke the language of nightmares. Why couldn't she remember?
She was careful afterward. Somnolent and sated, she moved through the apartment cleaning traces of leaves and mud from the entryway and splashes of red from the tile near the sink.
She never read the paper or watched the news anymore. Better she didn't know.
Her name was Annie—harmless, a name for girls with pigtails and sunshine smiles, the kind of girl she used to be. People named Annie didn't wake up to bloody bathrooms and cold, dark clouds obscuring the memory of everything that came before.
They didn't listen for the moon or hide from the searing pain of its too-bright opposite…
The air was different on those nights, she'd learned—rich and heavy with conflicting aromas and secret breezes. On those nights, she made certain she was alone, just in case. With luck, she'd never even know if it had helped.
She kept hoping it would finally end, both the mystery and the feeling of always fighting something she couldn't contain. Weeks would pass, with the world gone quiet until she slowly found her way back to feeling safe.
But then inside some twisted twilight, the window would suddenly beckon. Her hands shook as she opened it to the smells of the forest, to phantom visions of the full-sky moon. She felt her eyes widen to welcome the dark, drinking in the dwindling light that remained.
Her hold slipped away, silent and unnoticed against the changing night.
Outside, the moon was calling.
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