Lainey lay on her bed, still in her day clothes, staring up at the ceiling. Methodically, the horse-clock on her lamp-stand tick-tocked away into the night. She just lay there, still as a statue. From a distance, you would’ve taken her as a love-struck lass just daydreaming about her Mr. Handsome. However, up close, you would see the tears in her stormy-indigo eyes; the violent quiver of her chin; the paleness of her cheeks. Hair disheveled, clothes all wrinkled, face unwashed. And she just sat there, unable to move, unable to speak.
It was now a quarter till midnight. Gazing up at the whiteness of the ceiling, in her hand she held a note. Not a large paper, just the size of an index card, all folded into her palm. Stroking it with the tips of her fingers, she seemed to caress it like a mother touches her infant. Tick tock tick tock whispered the clock, like a sounding brass in contrast to the quiet of the little home. Lainey closed her eyes for the first time, her brows crinkling in a scowl, her lips flexing into a pout. Her grip tightened on the paper. Suddenly, as if pushed up from her pillow by unseen hands, she shot up to look directly across the room… at the picture on the dresser. The clock sang as the arrows pointed at the bolded 12a.m. horse figure.
Beneath the pale light of the moon, two faces smiled through the glass of the picture frame. As if beckoning Lainey, she rose from the bed to pick up the round wooden picture. Smiling, she looked from one face to the other. One beautiful, older woman with strawberry-blond curls, and the other a young beaming carrot-top girl. Mirth twinkled in both pairs of eyes as they stared up at Lainey, haunting her. Setting the frame back on the dresser, fierce longing coursed through each fiber of her body. Her mother’s gleeful face staring at her from the dresser, she returned to perch on the bed.
Lainey would have given anything to reshape the last two months. So many days had already past, and still her heart ached with the freshness of the loss; the raw, open wounds of losing the one person she held dearest to her soul. But having such thoughts wouldn’t bring her mother back. “If only it could…” she whispered, tears creeping their way back, unbidden. “If I could just see her once more, feel her hugs, hear her voice–” No other words were spoken, only broken sobs tearing through the veil of silence. Wrinkling the paper within her palm, she slammed her fist against the bed. But that didn’t change a thing.
Without hesitation, she laid back and stared at the ceiling once more. Burning tears dropped from the sides of her face into her hairline, but she didn’t move to wipe them. She just stared blankly, as her thoughts ran wild beneath the canopy of obscurity. Her mother… her lovely, caring mother… gone?
The word stuck in her head, bouncing off the walls of her mind, echoing over and over. Tick tock tick tock sang the horse figures. Her breathing began to steady with the constant beat.
Slowly, her eyelids shut. Like a passing storm, the anger she had felt moments ago fled her and she lost all awareness, stepping into the fantasy land of dreams.
Looking up, she saw her mother smiling at her just feet away. Lainey’s freckles seemed to laugh as they danced across her nose with her smile. Without a moment to spare, she ran into her mother’s open arms. Just like old times, they skipped hand-and-hand down the enchanted forest walkway.
There, beneath the star-filled ceiling of night, she was free of any gnawing pains. All tears gone, she danced arm and arm with her beautiful mother, unaware of reality, in-touch with the dream that would comfort her for years to come. She was smiling up at her mother’s strawberry-blonde crowned face, glee singing in her eyes.
Her mother was gone, but the dream? Well, it lasted forever.