Once upon a time there was a mother. She had three children, all under the age of four. She loved the children very much, though they proved far more difficult that she had ever imagined. The stress of what felt like single parenting was trying for Viviane, and the weight on her shoulders increased with every passing day.

Viviane's husband, Stephen, worked in the army. Viviane knew that, if he could, Stephen would be there for her and her children. But his work was so important to him; he couldn't just abandon his job. Stephen had found his calling in the army, and there he planned to stay until the day he retired.

But Viviane missed Stephen. Rearing three young children all on her own wasn't what she'd expected. It wasn't what she'd wanted.

When Viviane was younger, she'd wanted to be a model. She'd succeeded, too, for a while. But then, when she was nineteen, she met Stephen. They fell in love, and she started to book less and less shows and shoots. At the time, she'd thought nothing of it – when Stephen was deployed, she would go back to work. She wanted to spend all the time she could with him, while he was still around.

Once Stephen had gone back to Iraq, Viviane felt strange. It wasn't just the emptiness of an absent lover. Though she'd never been in love before – Stephen was her one and only, that she knew – she was certain that this was something else. Something different.

Viviane found out about her first pregnancy in a most dramatic fashion. It was during a fashion show for Marc by Marc Jacobs. Despite her short hiatus from the modeling world, she found herself to be in high demand. Not eating right and running on far too little sleep, Viviane didn't know that it wasn't only herself that she was hurting. She didn't know that she was pregnant until she passed out on the runway.

She was rushed to the hospital, her parents called to her side. It was announced to her then that she was pregnant. Not with one child, but with twins.

Her first thoughts were of panic. How? How could she model if she was pregnant? How could she support herself? What was she going to do?

Her next thoughts were of terror. Was she going to have to do this alone? What would Stephen say? They'd never discussed children – it had never come up. After all, they'd been together only a few short months. Their love was strong, but was it strong enough?

It turned out that it was. Stephen, though shocked, was elated to hear that he was going to be a father. He was given leave shortly before the beginning of Viviane's third trimester, and they decided that it would be best, for both their children and themselves, to get married then and there. And so they became Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Hargreaves. And, for a time, they were happy.

Just over a year after the birth of Margot and Griffin, Viviane became pregnant again. She hadn't planned it, but she welcomed the new baby. Even though it was a tough life, she was okay with it. She could handle whatever was thrown her way.

And so, not yet twenty-two years old, Viviane Hargreaves was a married woman, and a mother of three. So began the slippery slope into madness.

The cries of three infant children could haunt any young mother for years. Viviane, an only child, had no experience with babies. The only relation in her entire family younger than herself was a cousin who lived in Singapore. She'd only met said cousin twice in her life.

To say it started to get to her would be putting it lightly. As much as Viviane adored Margot, Griffin and Celia, it was a struggle to keep her sanity intact. Being a single parent – even a single parent who wasn't actually a single parent – was trying. By the time Celia was born, Viviane was an emotional wreck. She'd never admit it, but she was sliding down that slope faster than she could pull herself up.

But Viviane was a fighter. She didn't want to ask for help. She couldn't accept that she needed help. They were just babies. She was a grown woman, and she could do this. She could handle it. And she would handle it. In whatever way she deemed necessary.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

There was never any silence in her house. Even the clock on the wall made noise. Even when Margot and Griffin and Celia were all asleep at the same time – a rare occasion that almost made Viviane want to celebrate – her mind was still frantic. Rest was just beyond her reach. And she was sick of it. So sick of it.

All she wanted was one day. One day of no babies crying, no toddlers screaming and hitting one another, and knocking over the baby. One day of peace. But that was too much to ask for. Viviane couldn't get her one day, no matter how badly she wanted it.

The pounding in the back of her skull had been incessant for weeks. It drummed a steady beat on her brain. Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum. It never stopped. She just wanted it to stop.

She wanted to scratch her eyes out, they hurt so badly. She could hardly see, but she hadn't had time to put her contacts in when she was awoke by strange, loud noises coming from Margot and Griffin's room. She'd been straining for days, and her eyes stung like a million beestings. She couldn't put her glasses on – Griffin had hidden them under one of the cushions on the couch and she'd only found them when she sat down. They were beyond repair.

Sinking into her bed, she closed her tired eyes. It had been a long day, but no longer than any other. She'd awoken at five in the morning, when Margot and Griffin had started hammering their fists against their bedroom walls. The twins were almost four, and she was no match for them. She found herself helpless against them more often than she could admit, and she hated herself for it.

And she was so tired. She was so tired and so lonely. She hadn't seen Stephen in almost nine months. She missed him so much. It was horrible when he went away. She felt so alone when he went away. She needed it to stop. She needed something to stop.

She wanted to go to sleep, but she couldn't. She had laundry to do, and dishes to wash, and a kitchen to clean. She had things to do. But she was so tired.

Sitting there on her bed, she made a decision. She'd had enough. She couldn't do this anymore. Using all of the strength, all of the energy she had left, she forced herself off of her bad and into the kitchen. Half-awake, half-aware, she stood in front of the counter, not quite remembering what she went out there for.

Then she remembered. Peering into the sink, she saw a pile of assorted knives – left over dishes from nights past. A few had a thin coat of dried blood smeared on the blade, others had the remains of various vegetables still stuck to them. Turning away, she pulled a knife from its block. The only clean knife left.

She wouldn't want to mix the bloods.