I'd lost count of how many times I've had to suffer though this damned dream, actually, nightmare would be a more fitting term. At least a hundred times I've had to put up with it, like an annoying younger sibling that just won't stop pestering me. Nothing about the nightmare ever changed, to was always the same replay of the pivotal moment of my life, a night I'm forced to live with for the remainder of my existence.
The dream always started in total darkness, a black that would make the void of the night sky seem like a sunny afternoon. The first glimmers of light were blurs of street lamps passing the glass of the car window.
I could hear whispering in the front seats, I didn't catch much of it. Phrases like "Are you sure this is the way?" and "Yeah, she said second left once you leave the tunnel." I could feel the car make a gentle curve to the left as I strained to see anything out the window, It pitch black out but I could see Sukumo Bay and the lights of Kashiwajima in the distance.
"Papa, I'm tired... how much further is it?" I asked the figure in the seat ahead of me. I couldn't see anything of my parents beyond their silhouettes. A warm chuckle rose up above the dull hum of the engine. "We're almost there, we probably would have been there sooner if your mother didn't drive like she was in a wheelchair."
The woman behind the wheel shot a glare in the other adult's direction, light shined off her glasses.
"You keep yappin' like that and it'll be you in that wheelchair... and it's not my driving that's the issue here, its daddy's inability to read a simple map."
"No fighting!" I protested. "I'm far too tired to have to deal with your bickering!" My statement trailed off into a yawn, rather strongly worded for a young girl of only seven.
The adults exchanged silent glances, I could easily tell what was on their minds, higher classed education for me.
My mother turned away from the wheel for a moment and stroked my head gently.
"We'll be at our new home soon, then you can have all the precious napping time you want." She smiles, her face was lit by an oncoming light from outside the car, as was my father's. They were both smiling at me. The smiles of my family. Smiles I would never forget...
...that was the last time I saw their smiles.
The next instant heralded a deafening symphony of twisting and buckling metal, an orchestra of shattering glass and explosions... and a choir of faint and brief screams of terror.
Our small family sedan weighed about two thousand kilograms, not including luggage. It might as well have been an origami duck when pitted against the brick wall of a truck hauling aviation fuel cells, easily at least several tonnes. I learned years later that the driver of the larger vehicle was killed instantly, a section of radiator replaced the space his head used to occupy. My family met a similar fate, their bodies were hardly recognizable. Nobody survived......excluding myself.
I regained consciousness a few dozen meters from the blazing wrecks in a mossy ditch. An algebraist would sit around for hours and rant about the astronomical odds, a priest would undoubtedly praise a deity about it being some kind of miracle... I just call it luck and chance. Despite all that had just transpired I was completely unharmed until a few of the fuel cells from the truck flung a small piece of metal at my face, my cheek wasn't exactly armour plated but I was in too much shock to feel anything, or the blood flowing down the side of my face and neck. I just sat there and stared at the fire, almost as if it were a family bonfire... which, in a sick, tormenting way... it was. Sirens blared in the distance as fire trucks and ambulances made their way up the coastal highway. It was far too late for them to be of any use other than to give me a lift to the nearest orphanage.
Feeling finally started to return to my body, I was painfully made aware of the wound on my face and the blood now staining my clothes... but there was something else, a strange warmth that dwarfed the blazing inferno only meters away. I managed to move my eyes to it's source, I was clutching something in my hand. The shimmering glow of the fire revealed that I was holding Mommy's hand...
...her severed hand.