This story has been set to a rating of R. Age verification is required to proceed.
San Francisco, later that night…
“This was our last song together, wasn’t it? Bette’s voice cracked with emotion as tears rolled down her face. Her mother was trapped in the burning car, and she could do nothing to save her.
“Yes, honey, it was.” Her mother nodded, her lips quivering. “Hurry, Bette. Hurry.” Her mother pleaded as the flames inched closer. “Save yourself,” she told her.
But how could she just leave her? She couldn’t face life without her mother. Somehow Bette knew what that would be like…sad, lonely, and angry.
The engine was still revving loudly, and smoke and the smell of burning gasoline filled the front cabin. Bette refused to leave. She frantically pulled and clawed at the mangled wreckage to free her mother’s crushed legs. “I think I can get it this time.”
“No, Bette. Run!”
“I can’t. I won’t run this time.” Bette pulled with every ounce of strength. “I’m not leaving you this time, Mommy.”
The flames suddenly grew tenfold…a bright flash…then darkness…silence.
Bette woke with a jolt; her heart was pounding and her body drenched in sweat. What the fuck? She hadn’t had one of her nightmares in years…not since she met Avery. Why now? Then she remembered she ran into Tina, who reminded her of the accident.
She glanced to her right and was relieved to find Avery still sleeping soundly just inches away.
When Bette licked her lips, she realized her mouth was parched. She slung her legs over the side of the bed, then grabbed her iPhone on her way to the kitchen. Being on-call 24×7 meant nightmares or not, that damn cellphone had to always be within arm’s reach. At times, she felt like she was permanently attached to it.
She filled a glass with tap water, then glanced at the clock on the microwave above the stove…2 a.m.; she wasn’t asleep long. Out the dining room windows, she noticed the fog had temporarily lifted, so she sat at the table to take in the twinkling lights from across the bay.
The nightmare still troubled Bette. This variation of the accident had cropped up in several of her nightmares when she was younger, but only when she was feeling especially afraid of failing. She struggled to make sense of it. Sure, she was feeling guilty about how smitten she was when she saw Tina at the office, but she wasn’t about to risk her marriage over a childhood crush.