This was based on a prompt about people with the ability to change the dreams of others. I tried to take it in a direction that wasn't intended.

The Wall Was Still Only Half Covered

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, steady and insistent, drifted in from the other room. She was sitting there and staring blankly down at her hands. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying with all her heart to not think and make it bearable, one slow second at a time.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

The kitchen was at once spartan and cluttered. Everything was in its place, and there was little enough at all, but even the bare fundamentals threatened to overflow from their tightly packed locations at any second and come crashing down around her, the stacked pans trembling where they were crammed into a corner of the counter, the metal strainer balanced on the edge of a thin nail. No one thing stood out. The whole of the kitchen was covered in a sort of gray wash, one thing blurring into another, that reminded him of the drawn backgrounds in old children's cartoons, or the painted-on detailing of a dollhouse. It was simply the kitchen in her mind, nothing standing out, at least not right now.

He looked over the kitchen. There was little danger there. The stove was electric, not gas, the pans thin aluminum, the plates made of a hard, ugly glass that was virtually shatterproof. But there was a single large knife out, angled downward in a wooden holder. He moved over to it, a single step enough to cross the tiny room, and reached out to move it.

She looked to it as he started to shift it, and he stopped, stepping back. The knife had moved out of the background. It wasn't prominent or emphasized, but she had become aware of its presence. She was in the kitchen, and there were things in the kitchen, and one of those things was a knife in a wooden holder sitting on the corner of the counter.

The crying was steady but distant, a background noise like the sound of the cars on the street, something she could ignore.

She looked back down to the floor again, washed clean and marked by wear and old stains, but the knife remained faintly more real than the rest. And she sat there.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, steady and insistent, drifted in from the other room. She was sitting there and staring blankly down at her hands. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying with all her heart to not think and make it bearable, one slow second at a time.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

The kitchen was at once spartan and cluttered. Everything was in its place, and there was little enough at all, but even the bare fundamentals threatened to overflow from their tightly packed locations at any second and come crashing down around her, the stacked pans trembling where they were crammed into a corner of the counter, the metal strainer balanced on the edge of a thin nail. Most of the scene was indistinct but one thing stood out slightly to his practiced eyes - a knife sitting in a wooden holder, faintly more prominent than the rest.

He moved over to it, a single step enough to cross the tiny room. He considered. He didn't touch it again.

The crying was steady but distant, a background noise like the sound of the cars on the street, something she could ignore. He focused his attention on it, and the crying grew slightly sharper, slightly more prominent in the scene. It was now like a nagging at the back of her thoughts, something fighting for her attention.

She looked up again, but not over her shoulder to the doorway where the sound came from. She simply looked up, with blank, exhausted eyes, staring at nothing as she had done many times before, taking in the whole of the room before her.

The knife stood out. Her eyes caught on it, and it shifted now from a remembered background detail, into something thought of, focused on for a second before exhaustion and misery made her look back to the floor, washed clean but marked by wear and old stains, and the knife remained. She sat there.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, insistent and loud, filled the air around her. She was sitting there and staring blankly down at her hands. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying with all her heart to not think and make it bearable, one slow second at a time.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

The kitchen was at once spartan and cluttered. There were only the bare fundamentals but they threatened to overflow from their tightly packed locations at any second and come crashing down around her, the stacked pans trembling where they were crammed into a corner of the counter, the metal strainer balanced on the edge of a thin nail. Most of the scene was indistinct but one thing stood out to his eyes - a knife sitting in a wooden holder, more prominent than the rest.

He moved over to it, a single step enough to cross the tiny room. He considered. He reached out to try to move it again, and the woman raised her head suddenly, the first quick movement she had made. She stared not at him but at the handle of the knife he had touched. He pulled his hand back, but her eyes remained on the knife's handle.

The crying was steady and sharp, like a nagging at the back of her thoughts, something fighting for her attention but something she could still ignore.

She looked up with blank, exhausted eyes at the knife, still scarcely seeing it. But her eyes stayed caught on it, and it shifted now from something thought of, focused on for a second to something considered emptily by slow, defeated thoughts, before exhaustion and misery made her look back to the floor, washed clean but marked by wear and old stains, and the knife remained. And she sat there.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, loud and demanding, filled the air around her. She was sitting there and staring blankly down at her hands. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying with all her heart to not think and make it bearable, one slow second at a time, and she was losing.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

The kitchen was cluttered and empty at the same time. There were only the bare fundamentals but they threatened to overflow from their tightly packed locations at any second and come crashing down around her, the stacked pans trembling where they were crammed into a corner of the counter, the metal strainer balanced on the edge of a thin nail. Most of the scene was indistinct but one thing stood out - a knife sitting in a wooden holder, far more prominent than the rest. There was a crack running down the handle.

He moved over to it, a single step enough to cross the tiny room. He considered. He reached out to move it, pulling it out in one quick motion, and the woman raised her head suddenly. She stared not at him but at the knife he had moved. He pulled his hand back, but her eyes remained on the knife's blade.

The crying was steady and sharp, like a nagging at the back of her thoughts, something she couldn't ignore.

She looked up with blank, exhausted eyes at the knife, and it shifted now to importance, overwhelming the rest of the counter, before exhaustion and misery made her look back to the floor, washed clean and marked by wear and old stains, but the knife remained unforgotten at the edge of her vision. And she sat there.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, demanding and inescapable, filled the air around her. She was sitting there and staring blankly down at her hands. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying with all her heart to not think and make it bearable, one slow second at a time, and she was losing.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

The kitchen was cluttered and empty at the same time. Most of the scene was indistinct but one thing stood out - a knife lying on the counter next to the wooden holder, far more prominent than the rest. There was a crack running down the handle.

He considered. He focused again on the crying.

The crying was steady and sharp, crowding into her head and slowly filling the space inside her skull, drowning her own weak thoughts. It was something she couldn't ignore. It fought for prominence with the knife lying on the counter top, blade shiny next to the worn shabbiness of its surroundings. A thought flails a second against the crying din - i wonder if that is why it stands out so - and then sinks out of notice again.

She looked up with blank, exhausted eyes at the knife and then at nothing, before exhaustion and misery made her look back to the floor, washed clean but marked by wear and with old rust stains. She does not think. The knife remained at the edge of her vision. And she sat there.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in the tiny kitchen, hunched forward just slightly to try not to acknowledge the claustrophobic closeness of the walls. Crying, inescapable and deafening, filled the air around her. She was holding the knife in the right hand, staring at her upturned left wrist. The crying was louder. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying to find a way to make it bearable, even just one slow second at a time, and she was losing.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Don't you think this is what hell will be like for you? Don't you think this is what it will be if you die? Listen." He focused on the crying, dragging her attention back to it. "This," he whispered. "This forever, standing at the edge."

She lowered the knife a bit, laid both her hands on the table. She didn't let go of the knife handle, and she didn't turn her arm over. He felt disappointed at this.

"I'll be back tomorrow," he whispered. She didn't react.

She woke. He woke.

She was sitting at a small table in a tiny room staring at the white flesh of the underside of her wrists. There was a knife on the table. Crying, inescapable and deafening, filled the air around her. There was nothing else. She was being crushed and smothered and she was utterly alone, and she was sitting there trying to find a way to make it bearable, even just one slow second at a time, and she was losing.

He stepped into the room like a ghost.

He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "This isn't what you want." He focused on the crying, dragging her attention back to it.

She reached out and picked up the knife. She held it over her wrist. She set it back down and put her hands in her lap. She reached out and picked up the knife. She held it over her wrist. She set it back down and put her hands in her lap.

He reached out and touched one arm. He moved one finger down her arm from wrist to elbow. Then across her wrist. Her eyes traced the same path. He leaned down. "If you cut across," he whispered into her ear, "you won't die. It's only if you cut down that you'll actually die. If you cut across, you'll live. You can call for help and they will say it was a suicide attempt and take you to the hospital and talk to you about your problems and send you home. "

She held the knife against her wrist.

He focused on the crying until it drowned out almost everything. He focused on her arm until it was all she saw, focused on the white soft flesh and blood vessels pulsing underneath.

She lowered the knife a bit, laid both her hands on the table. The crying was deafening. She let go of the knife handle, and she turned her other hand over so that she was no longer staring at the underside of her wrist. Then she picked up the knife again, holding it angled downward, the way someone would hold it to drop it back down into a knife's holder, or something else below them.

He smiled. She didn't react.

She woke. He woke.

He didn't dream.

He woke with a smile and went to pick up the newspaper.

It wasn't front page news. She was no one important – they never were, always it was to him alone they mattered.

He clipped the story out carefully, making sure not to wrinkle the flimsy paper. Then, humming softly, he taped it against the wall of his apartment with the others. He took a step back to admire it, reading the headline of the newest addition again with pleasure.

Single Mother Kills Infant, Self

His collection was growing, although he thought modestly that at the moment he had only covered half of the wall with his articles. He smiled to himself and wondered who he would dream of when night came.