It is cold. That is the only thing I know. The sights around me are unfamiliar, I've never been here before, not until now. Yet the house is mine, perched in front of the sunrise, or is it sunset? Just another thing I don't know, it doesn't really bother me.
This house is the one I'd always dreamed of living in, except it is abandoned. I can tell by the foreclosure sign on the front lawn and the way everything looks ever-so-slightly faded in the not-lived-in kind of way. It's taken care of, though, there's no graffiti or broken windows.
I look behind me as I hear a truck pass by but nothing is there except some fading tail-lights, too far away to have made the noise. It must have been the wind.
I approach the house, because why else am I here? I do not know this place, I can't even remember getting here. All I know is the house, this seems like where I should be.
I get to the door without remembering the walk up to it, it's slightly ajar as if it has been waiting for me this whole time. That's stupid, it's only a house.
Inside is furnished with exactly the things I'd put in my home. Is this my home, then? The coincidence is too great. I look to the stairs.
It's not a light I see, exactly. It's not even a faint glow. I think I imagine it, but for some reason I want to go upstairs. All of a sudden my heart tightens. I can barely breathe and moving seems like it's taking more effort than it's worth. I make it up the stairs.
A narrow hallway greets me, I can barely see to the end of it. This is not how I'd have my house, narrow spaces scare me. Does this mean it's not mine? I guess it doesn't matter anymore, clearly no-one is living here.
That's when I hear it, a song. A sweet lullaby, almost. Perhaps sweet is the wrong word and I find it chilling. I can't quite place it, it's not one I know. I follow it to a door at the end of the hall with a pink light spilling from under it. I open the door.
The rest of the house was pristine, cleaned to a shine. White walls, white benchtops, white almost-everything. This room is burnt. The smell lingers in the air and I can taste smoke. The walls are blistered and peeling, showing further putrid darkness underneath. Nothing has survived, the floor is coated through a thin sheen of ash.
That's when I see her, maybe 5, pretty little thing dangling her tiny feet off the edge of the metal bed frame. The one thing that has survived the obvious fire, still white and pristine.
She looks up at me and the tightness in my breath, in my heart that I felt since I first started up the stairs eases, right before she asks: "Mummy?"
Of course, this is my daughter. How could I have forgotten such a face like hers? My heart tightens as I move towards her, kicking up the sediment on the floor.
I reach her and as I breathe out my thanks that she's alive, I notice a crumb on her cheek fall to the ground. I touch her hand and it's gone.
It's not a crumb. It's her turning to dust, back to the ash that she had become as this room burned.
Right as I stare into her eyes saying "Thankyou" to whomever brought her back to me, she disappears again and I sink to my knees as her ash swirls in the force I created.
I wake up with a jolt, tears in my eyes, breathing hard. I squeeze whatever my hands can find until my heart slows. I won't sleep again tonight.