Cold. It’s so cold.
Dark, cold. Black.
My eyelashes flutter, a whimsical, bonecracking thud following in my chest. Am I alive? What dim vision I had, is now gone. Black spots eroded it, blurring the view of the slightly transparent material that the airbag is made of. I can’t breathe. I can’t see. All I can hear is a deep thudding my ears. Is that my heartbeat? Why is it fading away? Why can’t I move my fingers? Are they clenched too tightly around the steering wheel? Or, well, what’s left of it anyway.
I fail to clear my throat and I can feel something hot oozing from my left temple. Darkness settles around me, my mind is slowly going cold.
Is this death? Has my time come so soon?
I don’t want to go yet. I have to tell them both that I love them. I have to tuck Hanz into bed one last time. I have to see Ludwig, I have to tell him that I’m sorry that I can’t stay with him anymore, despite what I've promise in the past. That I’m sure he needn’t worry about raising Hanz by himself; he is a splendid man, he'll surely do his best. I need to tell him that I love him.
Crimson darkness blossoms across my vision. This is it. I’m dead.
A strange, eerie whispering sounds in my ears.
Would you like some more time?
What would you do to have more time?
Be careful what you wish for.
The clock reads 7:30 AM. My eyes widen when I realise where I am. Sitting bolt upright, I stare around the familiar room. “It’s our room.” I murmur. I’m speaking, breathing, moving! A smile as wide as the ocean stretches my lips and when I glance to my side, I can see my tousle-haired husband. Was it all a dream?
I reach out for the still dormant male, gently touching the planes of his cheeks with my fingertips. My remaining breath leaves my lungs. My heart throbs. Lying back down, I wrap my arms around his neck, his forehead to mine. Ludwig, my Ludwig. The thick eyelashes still rest on the tops of his cheeks, his lips slightly parted to sigh at me. “I love you so much.” Was it all dream?
I can see him stirring, his eyes flickering open. “Did you say something?” My phantom husband speaks in a hushed voice, like his throat is dry. It probably is. Is this the dream?
“I just said I loved you,” I reply and again my heart thumps painfully, this time in response to the smile he gives me. A blush follows the trail of my fingertips, streaking his cheeks. “I love you too,” he murmurs, the tip of his nose gently brushing mine. It can’t be a dream.
The door opens quietly, shutting again in suit. Someone small and light tiptoes past my side of the bed, pouncing on the both of us with a gleeful shriek. “Guten Morgen!” The blond child cries, squealing in delight when his father turns him upside-down by way of greeting. “Guten Morgen,” the elder version replies. The replicas grin at each other for a bit, before the smaller settles himself on my lap. It can’t be a dream.
“Mutti?” I glance down, smoothing out his ruffled bedhair. “Yes?” For a moment he remains silent, with a smug expression up to his little pale ears. “Did you sleep well?” He asks, before breaking out in giggles when I poke him in the ribs. “I-“ I start, before glancing at the alarm clock. It’s now 7:37 AM. “Don’t we need to be getting to work?” In response to my question, two puzzled looks are thrown my way. “It’s Sunday, no?” Ludwig mutters, encouraged by the fervent nodding from his son. “Sunday-“ I echo. But, Sunday was Yesterday. Yesterday I was woken up by Hanz. It is, isn’t it?
Panic upsets my stomach. It can’t be- did I really dream it all up, or is this the dream? “Mutti?” Blinking in my haste, I look at a frightened blond boy. “What?” He touches his upper lip, his pale eyebrows creasing his neat, little forehead. Reaching up to my mouth, my eyes widen when I see thick, crimson blood on my fingers. Ludwig touches me softly, frowning as well. “How did-“ It really is, isn’t it?
Before I can drip anymore blood on the sheets, I go to the adjacent bathroom to clean the blood off. “Are you okay?” I hear behind me, and in the mirror I see my concerned husband. “I’m fine.” I say, smiling weakly at him. Placing his arms around me, his nose to the crook of my neck, he closes his eyes. “Hanz is worried.” He mutters into my shoulder blade. “I don’t blame him.” I reply, reaching up to stroke his hair gently. It really, most definitely is.
The blood has stopped flowing from my nostrils, though a faint smear of it is still apparent on my upper lip. Ludwig still has his arms around me, is still breathing in my scent. My warm, very much alive scent. He can feel my warmth seeping through the thin layer of my pyjamas. Can feel the steady rise and fall of my chest. I can feel all that and more coming from him too. The firmness of his chest to my back. The soft tickling on my neck, where his unkempt hair brushes my skin. The sighing exhale, which sends spirals of goosebumps down my chest.
I feel very much alive, just as alive as he or Hanz are. And yet, I’m not. I’m here on borrowed time. Time that isn’t mine. Time that must stop sooner, than later.
This is the dream.