By: Amy Murray

I pushed away from him, needing space more than my next breath of air. “Of course,” I said, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. I was far from fine. “Thanks, though.” I pulled my jacket tight and started walking.

“Wait a minute.” His hand reached for mine, and he pulled me to a stop. “You can’t drive.”

Visions of the darkened alleyway filled my mind, and those words—those words I never wanted to hear again—screamed in my thoughts. What I’d seen when James and I touched wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. Yet my recall of that moment was as real as any memory I’d ever made. It not only confused me, it terrified me. Pulling my hand from his, I stepped back.

“Please,” I said. My breath was shallow, and my limbs quivered with fear. “Don’t ever touch me again.”

With Xander in tow, Gracie approached apprehensively, her eyes wide with concern. “Abby?”

I wrapped my arms around my middle and faced my friend. “You didn’t have to leave, Grace. I’m fine,” I said trying not to shift my gaze to James.

“I know,” she said, the look in her eyes at odds with her words.

“I just…felt funny. Too much to drink, I guess.” The corners of my mouth lifted in a half smile, but I could feel it wobble.

“Come on.” Gracie looped her arm through mine and pulled me away. “Xander’s driving.”

I nodded and let her lead me away.

At home, I paced my tiny bedroom. Up and down the carpet I walked and worried—worried and walked. Since I’d left the bar, the vision hadn’t returned, but I couldn’t stop myself from wondering when it would.

I held myself tight, needing to keep from falling apart, but nothing I did prevented my emotions from unraveling. Lying down, tears spilled from my eyes, and I filled my lungs with air as I stared at the shadows on the ceiling. Was this how it had begun for my mother? Had everything been normal until one day it wasn’t?

Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will be different.

I chanted that phrase over and over until my eyes felt heavy and I succumbed to the mind-numbing sleep only alcohol could provide.

Tomorrow would be different.

Chapter Two

I don’t remember going to sleep, and by the time I rolled over, the sun streamed through my window, so bright my closed lids did little to block out the glare. I groaned and sank beneath the covers.

Last night, I’d spent the entire ride home pretending to sleep in order to avoid Gracie’s questions. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to talk to her. I couldn’t talk to her. What happened with James terrified me, and voicing those fears aloud to someone, even Gracie, would legitimize them in a way I wasn’t ready to accept.

Just remembering last night had tendrils of fear slithering from my belly and twisting inside my throat. The memory flashed like a strobing light, and my lungs seized with panic. I threw the blankets from my bed and stood, gasping for a breath I couldn’t catch.

It was happening—everything I’d ever feared. I was becoming my worst nightmare. I was becoming my mother.

I pictured myself wandering aimlessly through my apartment and speaking nonsense to Gracie. Would my eyes, like my mother’s, plead with her to understand? Would I try to make her see my version of the truth? I shook my head and tried for a steady breath. That couldn’t be me.

Or could it?

My stomach lurched and a crushing headache throbbed between my ears. I swallowed the vomit building in my throat and made my way to the bathroom. Flipping on the light, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. A layer of cold sweat burst across my skin, and my heart stuttered. The haunted reflection I saw was familiar, but it wasn’t mine.

It was my mother’s.

I blinked until the face staring back at me morphed into something that more closely resembled my own. But nothing I did removed the dark shadows framing my blue eyes, or smoothed the tangles matted in my hair. I looked feral and disconnected—exactly the way I remembered my mother.

Unable to stand the sight of myself, I ripped the clothes from my body and stepped into the shower. Welcoming the sting of water as it pelted my skin, I scrubbed myself with a vengeance. I needed to erase her image and wash away the self-loathing—the hate—that clung to my skin and bubbled in my gut when I thought of her. But it didn’t help. Her image, and my guilt, lingered.