We are having chicken, done two ways. My brother is going on about how much money he's spent recently, but, apparently, it's completely justified. Only the best.
Then I see her. She's healthy and vibrant. A warm smile crosses her face as our eyes meet. Her movements are steady and strong. A sense of confidence and aristocracy she inherited from her parents. Something I hope to one day acquire myself.
My embrace is so tight, so violent, it threatens to steal away breath and crush bones into powder. Her scent is that of the badlands. Of farms and the dogs and wisdom and protection. I cannot anywhere find the reek of the sickness, which ate her alive so very quickly.
"It's been a long time," she says.
"Almost two years," I say. "Not since the sickhouse, right before..."
And the perfection of the dreamtime moment is thus shattered by cold, hard, reptilian fact...
She pulls away slightly. She smiles at me again. It is one of acceptance. I am seized by an urge to cry, but do not. She nods and kisses me upon the brow.
"Oh, my sweet boy," she whispers. "I know."
My eyes fly open to the darkness of the small hours. Around me are the sounds of quiet breathing. Sabina, in the bed, on one side. Whistler lays on the floor next to my side of the bed, reminding me to be mindful when I first get up.
With a heavy sigh, I close my eyes again. I realize this is an effort in futility. The dreamtime moment, like my mother, is lost and gone forever. I cannot get that back no matter how hard I try, wish, prey, or beg. And, perhaps because of that, I know I'll not be sleeping anytime again soon.