Abigail's hands trembled and her heart raced. The balmy sweat that formed on her forehead had begun to crawl down her cheek and meld with her tears. The glistening of the blade's point flashed in her peripheral. As it was pressed against her neck she froze with the terrifying reality at hand. She tried to keep eye contact with her mother, who stood before them, her arms were spread apart in a gesture of surrender, and she was trying in vain to talk the monster down. Despite the gaping wounds and dripping blood, she had a calmness in her eyes that Abigail so desperately wanted to feel.

Abigail wanted to speak, to apologize, to tell her mother that she loved her. Words that were caught in her throat. A knot that had been created by not only fear but regret.

The room felt like it began to spin and time suddenly sped to a rate that Abigail could no longer focus on anything. She saw her sister appear, then in the same instance become a blur. She felt the beast holding her and the knife slicing. She felt the searing pain and saw the blood. It was nothing to the cries from her mother. They echoed endlessly in her ears. Abigail called out again and reached for her, but only found herself clinging to the oversized comforter that had been crumpled at the base of the bed. Her eyes suddenly searched the dimly lit room for something familiar. Slowly the merging shadows gave way to solid objects as full consciousness settled in. Chest heaving, Abigail sucked in a quivering breath to try and control her pounding heart. The images left from the dream were seared in her mind and remained as vivid as the day it happened, fifteen years earlier.

Swiping at her tears Abigail spun and dropped her feet to the carpet below and rose slowly. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand and blew out an exasperated breath. She had four hours before she had to be at work, but there was no way she would risk the horrors that were waiting if she dared close her eyes again. Slowly she stepped out of her room and strolled down the short hallway flipping light switches as she moved. Reaching the kitchen she paused to look at the framed portrait a friend had taken of her mother. It was one of the inspirations that pushed her to become a photographer. Abigail wanted to be able to capture that same kind of joy and life in people. She had always been able to smile at the candid moment perfectly captured in the photo, but after that evening's nightmare, it didn't evoke the feeling that usually kept the tears at bay.

She pushed past the wall and crossed into the tiny kitchen. In one movement she pressed the coffee maker on and opened the fridge to grab the creamer. As the machine hummed through its warm-up cycle she leaned against the counter and stared unfocused at the laminate floor. Every year she hoped that the anniversary of her mother's murder would be less painful, but it still felt as jagged and raw as the day she witnessed it. A sudden pit in her stomach added to the unease still washing through her body. She wrapped her arms around her body as to hold herself together and shook her head slowly.

"Today's really going to suck."