It was a week before Rachael’s eyes focused. It was during the early hours of the morning. I was sleeping in the chair at the side of the bed when she screamed. I jumped out of myself with fear and Ruth almost fell down the stairs.
Rachel was bolt upright in bed with her eyes wide open in terror. The screaming had stopped but the mouth remained open like the lid of a disturbed coffin.
I grabbed her by the shoulders, trying to comfort her, but perhaps I was a little too strong. Her eyes turned to me and I saw a venomous hatred within them.
“It’s okay,” I hushed. “It’s okay, you’re safe.”
My words appeared to have little effect as she began to struggle violently.
“It’s okay,” I repeated over and over again. And then Ruth’s voice settled upon the air. Rachael, wherever she was, responded. The screams stalled, her eyes moved and she turned towards Ruth. The song continued and the struggles ceased. She looked at Ruth and then at me. Her eyes sprung with tears and she trembled.
“It’s okay now, they’re gone,” I said.
And she wept.
That night we stayed together. By morning we had all fallen into sleep.
I strained against the discomfort of the chair I had slept in and stretched. The others were still sleeping even though a fragile sun was creeping in through the gaps in the curtains. I made it my business to be as silent as possible and left the sleeping forms in the dimness of the room. I needed fresh air and light.
My favourite time is after a storm. I love the richness of the earth renewing itself. I adore the sighs of the trees as they shed the last of the rain. More than all of that, I love the stillness. There are times when the earth does stand still; it stops as if taking a breath. No birds sing, no breeze blows, nothing moves or dares to grow.