Lurching awake, gasping for air, and I've dreamt of her again. It's the same as always, lately. She's in Hell, neck deep in snake’s blood, with a foetus hanging above her, and her head is on fire. It doesn't get any better, not even with the pills.
The psychiatrist has asked me what else occurs in this dream.
“ The foetus is crying, “ I told her.
“ You sustained a serious injury in the accident. A car crash is a big deal, Tom. “
It had been raining and we were on our way home from the theatre. Annette had wanted to see a stage play. The Woman in Black, that was it. She was twenty-five weeks pregnant. Our first.
A drunk driver collected us head on, without warning, an hour out of town. The impact was highly severe.
I suffered a head injury and Annette was killed outright. It took some time for the emergency services to arrive. I don't know how long we were there until they were notified.
Annette's corpse had expelled our baby, someone who would've been our little girl. She was much like a coffin birth, so I'm told.
I held Annette's hand. It was the only thing I could feel in the wreckage.
Her family buried them both, while I was in hospital, and her brother came to visit me, but only once. They haven't contacted me since.
The drunk driver survived and he and I were only four beds apart in ICU. I awoke before he did and they relocated him to a different hospital. His name was Daryl Hibbert.
The newspaper had a great time with the story. It was going to trial, of course, once Hibbert was well enough. They spoke politely of Annette: Sadly missed school teacher in tragic wreck, wife of senior detective, all that stuff.
Well, I'm not a detective any more.
Annette and I met a fund raiser to do with the awareness of drug addiction and teen suicide. She was twelve years younger than I, beautiful, with auburn hair, and hazel eyes. I'd rarely had the chance to have a love interest, let alone get married.
After a series of surgeries, I had to be moved to a rehabilitation unit. My progress was good, all cognitive and motor skills seemed to be okay, except for two things. My handwriting wasn't so hot and each time Hibbert, or Annette's name was mentioned, my left hand involuntarily grabbed sharp objects, like a knife, or pen, and proceeded to stab the table, or a chair. I was completely unaware of it.
I wounded several hospital staff.
“ Hey, Tom, “ they would say. “ That Hibbert just got seven years, “ and my left hand would start going at it.
Quite soon, I was disallowed sharp objects.
Finally, I was sent home, given pills, referred into counselling.
Recently, they discovered that in the accident, the two spheres of my brain had torn from each other. This is what causes my involuntary violent actions. Apparently, I can be taught to control it by avoiding things that trigger it.
But I can't avoid my dreams, that reoccurring nightmare. That's when my hand gets the worst.
It has started to choke me in my sleep.
BIO: I live in Orange, New South Wales, Australia. I have one child -a daughter. I was born in 1977. My poetry has appeared in anthologies worldwide and my short stories have appeared in men's magazines. I cite James Herbert, Tales From the Crypt, vintage Penny Dreadfuls, and Ripley's Believe it, or Not as an influence.