The morning sun shone through Irma’s window and danced on her closed eyelids. She yawned, taking a moment to focus as the dream dissolved around her. Irma opened the window and birdsong filled the air. She put on her robe and padded downstairs in stockinged feet, trying to recall the dream, but it had faded almost to oblivion.
“I was on a hill,” she murmured and turned on the coffeemaker.
The dream was almost a blur now and, as she opened the cabinet to take out two mugs, she glimpsed the wall calendar. The photograph of a medieval castle, in ruins, on a hilltop; Montsegur, Occitanie, France, according to the caption. The picture tickled Irma’s mind, and she stared at it for a moment, a distant memory of a dream. Hoofbeats, screams, fire.
Irma shook her head and glanced out the window. But the dream was pleasant and restful. The picture of the ruined castle behind bored its presence into her shoulders. Something was off about that castle.
Irma sipped her coffee and puckered her lips. It tasted like blood, but her mouth was not bloody.
Thunder rumbled far in the distance, yet the trilling birds on the tree-branch beyond the open window seemed not to care.
“Because they didn’t hear it.”
Lourdes, her sister, shuffled into the kitchen.
“Who didn’t hear what?” Lourdes asked and poured herself a cuppa.
“The birds didn’t hear the thunder.”
Irma’s voice sounded strange and distant to Lourdes and gave her goosebumps.
“What do you mean?” A soft eerie knock at the back of Lourdes’s mind chilled her despite the warm sun filling the kitchen and she dreaded opening that door.
“I was dreaming of something, but can’t remember what, when I heard a far-off thunder. Maybe it was in my head though because the birds didn’t stop singing.”
“Hmm,” Lourdes was reluctant to say birds didn’t always fear thunder, “what were you dreaming?”
“I don’t know.”
Lourdes gazed at Irma, puzzled, and like a wave crashing on the shore, her own dream returned, so vivid she almost fainted.
Irma’s face was different but Lourdes knew it was her. A cold shiver pierced her heart as she remembered Irma ramming a sword through her chest. Lourdes looked away and her stomach turned when she caught sight of the wall calendar, steadying herself on the counter.
“I think there was a storm, and horses, and a battle,” Irma continued, oblivious to Lourdes’s shock, “there was a fire and…”
The image of Lourdes, with other features, popped in her mind. Irma let the dream take over as it banged through her like a thunderstorm; still feeling the weight of the sword as it sliced through Lourdes’s chest.
“I killed you,” Irma whispered. Saying it loud meant it happened.
“I know, I dreamed it too.”
Birds stopped chirping, and a shadow fell on the room. The sisters faced one another, neither seeing outward, only inward. The calendar hung innocent on the wall. A castle in ruins, fire and swords and blood.