By Racheal Nye
It happens so fast. One touch too many. One cry too loud. A toy that won’t stop singing. A dog who won’t stop begging for attention. A partner craving affection.
The room spins. The hair on my arm stands up. My ears buzz. My mind begins to race. My nipples are sore. My mind is tired. My hair is a mess. I can’t remember the last time I showered.
I grit my teeth and close my eyes, pressing my fingertips into my temples trying to calm the noise. I need a moment alone that will never come.
I feel my heart begin to race. My skin wants to peel itself off. Just leave me alone —
My eyes snap open to the sight of laundry on the couch. Is it clean or dirty? The baby is reaching for me my partner is watching the tv the dog is nuzzling under my arm my breath falls short my chest tightens my feet want to move but my legs are heavy —
I look around and see a candle. Where are the matches?
It could be quick. An accident. I can already smell the flames licking away at my skin. Burn into ash. Everything is gone in the blink of an eye.
Snap. Just like that —
I look down at the baby tugging at me.
My heart calms. My jaw relaxes. I take a deep breath.
For a moment, silence.
Just me and this smile. Everything else just melts away.
I close my eyes and let the noise back in. But it’s lighter now.
I blink away images of flames, and focus on her smile.
Maybe I can get a laugh if I try. It’s the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard.
I reach down and pet the dog’s head.
I look up at my partner and realize he’s begun folding clothes. I feel my breath slow as I watch him and notice his tired eyes.
I realize I’ve started singing the song in the cartoon on the TV.
I look down to see my baby is still smiling, reaching for my face. I kiss her little palm.
The moment has passed.
In my mind, we’re all safe again.
Silently, I pray it’s the last time.
* * *
Racheal Nye received her BA in English Literary Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MA in Professional Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction from the University of Denver. She currently resides in North Carolina with her fiancé, daughter and dog. Racheal is a stay at home mom working on her writing career.