A couple neighbours anxiously watched the Sanchez yard after hearing Michelle's scream of anguish.

"Brendan!" She screamed, not caring that her neighbours stared. She didn't even know their names, though she had lived in this neighbourhood for eleven years. Dogs barked.

"No." This wasn't happening. "No no no no no." Michelle put her hands over her ears and closed her eyes, falling to her knees in the middle of the thick grass. "Brendan," she whispered. Despair clouded her mind like thick black smoke. She repeated his name over and over, rocking back and forth on her knees.

Any minute now she would wake up. She would open her eyes, feeling her lumpy mattress solidly beneath her, to the sound of Sarah and Brendan fighting over the remote. Karl would be making his famous blueberry waffles. Sarah would leap onto her bed and start jumping and Michelle would grab her daughter and tickle her until she couldn't breathe. She would tell Karl about this horrible dream she'd been having, where he just picked up and left, and Sarah was kidnapped, and then Brendan went missing too. Karl would put her face between her hands and kiss her sweetly but solidly so she knew he was real and he would look her in the eyes and tell her it was just a dream and everything would be okay.

Michelle wrapped her arms around her shoulders and continued to rock, weeping tearlessly, too weak to breathe. Too broken to feel. Too empty to cry.

In the distance, sirens wailed, getting louder and louder...

The End

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