This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.

By Julie Wittenberg

It had happened early in the morning. I always forgot what to expect from days like those. They start the same as any, the sun comes up and travels through the sky as it’s supposed to. Only that day more than others I was the most terrified.

She’s still in her bed this morning and I’ve been sent to the garden because I wouldn’t understand. I sat for a while and studied the flowers. Colors shifted in and out of focus. Soon it was just a mix of the colors, and I could vividly replay the sight in my head. It’s like I wanted myself to see it, hear it like it was happening right in front of me. It was torturous, and it’s yet to happen.

By then tears are rolling down my face. All my life these nightmares have haunted me, but how can you have nightmares when you are not sleeping? How can these nightmares, come true? I wish I could play and smile like others my age but it’s so hard to smile when your whole body is elapsing into devastation.

Until today the nightmares showed people I have never met before but I get the vague tug when that person dies that I have lost something and I need it back before it’s too late, too late for what?

“Harper,” Behind me now is Gloria, my nanny. It’s time, isn’t it? “Will you follow me?”

I need not to cry anymore because there’s nothing I can do and the scene I have already seen time and time again today, is about to become a reality. I’m about live my nightmare. I’ll be able to feel the heavy envelope of expiration in the air filtering from her room out into the hall, dimming the lights overhead and blurring my vision.

Quaking, I’m by mother’s death chair. She never wanted to die in a bed. It’s too cliché. She was never one to give in easily. She wanted to go in a way that looked like she was merely sitting with a glass of wine. I managed a smile that barely traveled to my eyes.
She smiled at me, a real one. “Are you okay?

No. You’re leaving me. But you already knew that, didn’t you? “I’m fine. I will be. For you.” My voice barely shook. My mother is a strong woman and I want her to see me as one too.

“That’s my girl.” Her smile was gone but only from her mouth. She swallowed hard, I can tell her pain was increasing, “You know you can’t ever give up, right?” Suddenly she was sad. “Not like me.”

Ice erupted in my stomach and I choked. Tears sprang into my eyes and it took everything in my power not to fall to the ground right in front of my mother’s chair.

“I-don’t-know what you mean- mommy.” Instead of falling I leaned closer to her. Even on her deathbed she smelled like comfort, and lilacs. I remembered to cherish that. The smell will fade, but she wont.

“Don’t be defeated by your fears.” At every word she got paler. My nightmare is coming to an end.

My last time to say it, “I love you.”

She didn’t cry, or smile. She only looked at Gloria. That was her cue to remove me from the scene. Gloria was the only one my mother let herself be vulnerable around. Maybe someday I’ll understand why. Right now there are a lot of things I don’t understand. The only thing that keeps me going is that one day I’ll be older and wiser and maybe then I’ll understand.

In the hall I counted to ten.

One… It’ll be okay.
Two… Maybe I can learn to grow without her.
Three… What if I can’t be strong if she’s not there to show me how?
Four… This is the worst one yet.
Five… What will happen to me?
Six… Who will tell me how to fight my nightmares?
Seven… Will the lights be this dim forever now?
Eight… I can’t do this.
Nine… What if I can stop it?
Ten… How much longer do I have before I go crazy?