I never wanted this moment to end. The sun was just barely peeking over the horizon, coloring the sky in different shades of purple and blue. In the distance, birds chirped and underlying them was the faint sound of crickets. Dozens of flowers scattered across the field in front of us, adding life to the scenery around us. It was absolutely the most peaceful place I had ever been in.
I was sitting in my mother’s lap with my eyes closed, my head pressed up against her chest as she softly hummed the lullaby from my childhood. Her fingers combed through my hair, gently massaging the top of my scalp with the tips of her nails. It wasn’t until she started rocking me back and forth on the swinging patio chair when I felt all the tension leave from my body.
It had been a long time since we’ve last sat like these, sitting together in silence and enjoying each other’s company. We hardly had any time to spend together as she was constantly working, and by the time she got home she’d be too tired to try to talk to me. I didn’t blame her for it, though that didn’t stop the ache in my heart every time she’d pass by me without a word. And it wasn’t as if I could talk to my father, because while I loved him with all my heart, there was only the closeness a daughter and mother could have. And, God, how I’ve missed her.
I smiled and snuggled deeper into her embrace, inhaling her natural scent of lavender and rain. Then just like the snap of my fingers everything changed.
The wind picked up, causing the chair to rock violently from the force. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the vibration coursing through the tip of my toes that touched the bottom of the porch to the top of my body. My mother was no longer humming, her fingers frozen in my hair. I tried to pull away from her embrace, but her grip tightened.
“Mama, what’s going on?” I mumbled, pulling away more forcefully without trying to hurt her. My heart pounded furiously against my chest and my breaths were starting to come out in sharp, quick gasps. I had finally managed to escape her grasp when my eyes snapped open to a pair of milky white ones staring back. I gasped and pushed away from her, falling onto the ground as she stood up. Her skin was no longer that sweet caramel color it had always been, instead it was a deadly pale color that scarily resembled that of a corpse. As for her beautiful brown eyes, they now glowed with hunger, her pupils completely gone underneath the haunting white they had become.
“M-mama? I-Is that you?” I whispered, my voice breaking at the end. I blinked then blinked again, hoping that this image would disappear and my mother would be standing in front of me, but none of that happened. The only difference I saw was her body coming closer as she took deliberate steps towards me. She moved with a purpose, as a predator would with it’s prey. A low ferocious growl rumbled in her chest and she bared her teeth at me, her canines sharper than they had been originally.
“Mama, stop playing around. You’re scaring me!” I screamed.
Her steps faltered and she titled her head, her hair falling into her face as she continued to stare at me. Something flickered in her eyes, but just as quickly as I had seen it, it vanished. Her hands started to twitch, her head snapping in every direction. It appeared as if she was fighting against something, and for a second I saw a glimmer of my own mother.
“Denise…” She groaned, falling down onto her knees. Her voice was raspy, almost as if she had something stuck in her throat, and her nails clawed at her neck. Saliva foamed at her mouth, dripping off of her chin and falling onto the ground.
All I could do was stare, unsure if I should even being doing something to help her in the first place. After all, this was my mother. The woman who raised me and tried to give me the life she thought I deserved. And while she wasn’t always there for me, she was there for me when I needed her the most. And as I stared at the writhing creature in front of me, I could still see that woman inside there. This was still my mother, regardless of what she looked like.
“Denise, my darling…help me.”
Without a second thought, I pushed myself upright and ran towards her, falling down beside her and cradling her head on my lap as her body started to convulse. The tears fell freely now as I watched her face scrunched up in pain, small moans coming out of her mouth as she gasped for air.
“Denise…I need to…tell you something.” She moaned, her body shaking more violently. With a shaky nod, I leaned closer to her mouth, tilting my ear towards her lips. And as soon as my neck was exposed to her, she closed the distance between us and sunk her teeth into my neck.
I gasped and shot upright in my bed, my hand clutching my chest. I assessed my surroundings, my eyes searching through every nook and cranny of the room. It wasn’t until I was certain that I was safe when I let myself relax, but as soon as I did the images started to replay in my mind. They flashed in my mind before they stopped at the image of my mother, her teeth bared straight at me. No, this was just a nightmare that’s all. I thought to myself as I felt tears prickle in the corners of my eyes. It meant absolutely nothing. I nodded to myself turning over and trying to gain whatever sleep I could.
Besides, this nightmare was nothing compared to the one waiting for me outside.