‘Emily, it’s morning, love―time to get ready for school.’ Mrs Wells’ voice penetrated the fog of Emily’s sleep. She put her head under the pillow and tried to ignore her mother. She had almost fallen back to sleep when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
‘Come on, sleepy head. You can’t spend all day in bed.’
‘Is it morning already, Mum?’ Emily’s voice was muffled by the pillow. ‘Couldn’t I stay home today, just this once?’ She rolled over and stretched sleepily.
‘You already know the answer to that, young lady. Now hurry up before you are late.’ Mrs Wells smiled as she walked out of the room and closed the door behind her. ‘You get ready while I fix you some breakfast.’
Emily swung her feet onto the cold floor and stretched again before standing up. She reached for her school uniform and stood at the dressing table studying her face in the mirror. Her eyes were bleary from lack of sleep. They were normally a light blue but this morning they were just a pale grey, like the winter sky. Her skin looked red and blotchy. Emily thought about the woman from her dream. Her skin had been smooth and fair, with just a trace of freckles across the nose.
As Emily looked at her own reflection in the mirror she wished she knew more. She wondered if the dreams had anything to do with the book. Her mother had said that dreams meant nothing and she should stop worrying about them but this was the third time she’d had the same dream. Each time the woman came closer. Last night was the first time she had touched her.
Emily ran her brush through her hair absently.
The sounds of her mother moving around in the kitchen stirred Emily from her reverie. She could smell the cooking wafting through the air―scrambled eggs and toast as usual. But Emily wasn’t hungry. She never felt like eating first thing in the morning. It made her feel sick.
‘Hurry up, Em. You don’t want to be late for school,’ Mrs Wells’ voice rose from the kitchen. She said something else but Emily wasn’t listening.
Emily pushed her hands into the pockets of her blazer and looked out the window. She felt like she should cry but she didn’t know why. She closed her eyes. The world outside was shrouded in grey fog and the sun was just a faint glow on the horizon.