Chapter 1 : Thanatophobia
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Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Dominique snored slightly in her sleep, the blankets twist around her legs. An owl hooted outside and the noise echoed around the room. The rain pattered against the old window making the shadows move in the moon-bathed room. The sound seemed to echo against the walls and into my ears. A small whine escaped from my clenched lips and my hands gripped the pillow that I had pressed myself against. It was always worse at night. In the day I could pretend, but not at night Ė at night the monsters came out.
Breathe Roxanne! Breathe! In Ė Out Ė In ĖOut! But my breathing didnít steady, if anything, it spiked and continued to gasp from my lips. My chest was tight and my throat burned. Breathe!
Lily muttered in her sleep and turned over, causing her bed to creak. I buried myself further into the blankets and felt a tear slide down my face. My heart beat against my ribs and pounded in my ears. My nails dug into my skin.
"Please, please just stop!" I moaned. "Please! Just stop. Please." But the images didnít stop, they pounded against my brain, forcing me to think of nothing else. The fear continued to spread, my hands shook and with a desperate attempt to escape; I jolted upright Ė to a sitting position Ė but if anything it told the monsters that I was awake and they attacked me more.
What would it feel like to die? The questions went round and round my head. Itís going to hurt. I know it is. What would it be like to stop breathing? As if I had no control over my body, my mind pushed towards me the memory of swimming in the lake a couple years ago. My foot had got tangled in some weeds and I couldn't pull free. My chest had†tightened and my throat had burned, before Teddy had dived into the water and pulled me to safety. With a gasp and a coughing fit, I breathed once more.†Is it going to be like that? Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. Please! Please! Please donít let it happen, please! Itís going to hurt. I know it is.
Will I know? Will I know when Iím dying? Will I wake up in the night, and die Ė die with nobody else able to understand whatís happening? Once again, my body acts of its own accord and stopped breathing, my body still and rigid and my eyes wide open. Is this what itíll be like? Will I be able to think? Will I be able to think? More tears run down my face.
"Stop it! Please Roxanne, please!" I moaned to myself, "Iíll do anything, stop it! Come on Rox! Just stop!"
But the monsters donít stop. The monsters donít know how to stop. The monsters attack. Will I†know that I'm dying? Once again, as if to tempt the monsters more, my body became rigid and my hands were positioned over my chest. No! My voice seemed to scream inside my head, with another jolt I was sat with my back against the bed post. No, no, no, no, no my head repeated Ďno, no, no, noí my lips whispered. Bringing the blanket towards my face, I bit down on the duvet to stop the screams from coming out. I bit until my jaw hurt, I bit until my cheeks ached, I bit until my head ached so I had a reason to grip it so tight.
What if I wake up? What if no one can hear me scream? My arms reached out in front of me, grabbing the invisible air like there was some way to keep it with me. My eyes dart from side to side of the room where my cousins slept. Part of my mind knew I was crazy, but the other part wanted nothing more than to wake them all. To tell them to run. Run before the monsters came. Run before they got caught.
Breathe. Just Breathe. Breathe. Just Breathe.
What if it hurts? What if itís really slow? What if it always hurts? Iíll never wake up again. Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. My hands gripped my head even tighter and my nails dug into my skin. In a burst of desperation, I start to hum a lullaby to try and settle the monsters. To make the monsters sleep. But the monsters like my lullaby, the monsters thrive when I†sing my lullaby - they know it means I'm afraid.†No!†I scream to myself, fighting the†wave of terror as†it threatened†to overcome me.†I am here. I am here. It doesnít exist. Iím not going to die. Iím not going to die. It doesnít exist. I am here. With each repetition of the verse, my voice became more hoarse and by the last bit, my lullaby faded away in sobs Ė but the monsters still didnít stop.
Iím going to be scared. I wonít know what to do. What if I do the wrong thing? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I go somewhere else? What if I never see anyone again? What if thereís nothing. Thatís it. The end. My breathing got even more rapid, and my heart beat faster. Whatís the point of waiting? Why do I have to wait? Why doesnít it just happen now? Whatís the damn point? I felt slightly light-headed and leaned over the edge of the bed to retch. Nothing came up, but I pulled the bowl out from under my bed - from when the monsters last went to play.
Whatís the damn point? I retched once more. Why am I even here? Bile filled my throat. If Iím going to die, then why not now? I lifted the bowl to my head. At least the monsters are distracted. Yet as soon as I†thought that, they fought with a vengeance.
It's going to be me. It's not going to be some person in a few decades time. It's going to be me. Me.
My mouth burned as I vomited. Lucy coughed in her sleep and with a jerk; I came back to the small room we shared. I shook my head and pushed the bowl back under my bed - throwing a used top over the bowl to try and stop the smell becoming apparent before I could discard it in the morning. I didn't want my mind to go back to the thoughts, because then the monsters would win. Yet as usual, my mind ignored my wishes. I donít want to die. I thought to myself as I rolled back into the bed. I donít want to die. My mind repeated as I wiped my mouth and swallowed the left-over bile.
I donít want to die. I donít want to die. I donít want to die. I donít want to die. "I donít want to die. I donít want to die. I donít want to die. I donít want to die. I donít want to DIE. I DONíT WANT TO DIE. I DONíT WANT TO DIE!" The words were soon lost in my sobs. The wails escaped and my throat retched as I screamed.
Dimly, I recognised someone pull my hands away from my screwed up face. Someone else placed their arms around my waist. "Shhh," they muttered. "Roxanne, shh, weíre here. Roxanne! Itís alright!" Someone else whispered into my ear. "Go get Uncle George, Lily. Go!" I heard footsteps pad across the wooden floor. I donít want to die. I donít want to die.
"Roxanne. Roxanne. Itís Dad." My father whispered as I pulled my arms away from my face once more.
"Roxanne," my mum whispered as she reached for my curled-up body. I hung limp in their arms. More footsteps padded into the room.
"Mum? Is she alright? Mum?" My brother Freddie questioned uncertainly. I donít want to die. I donít want to die. "Roxy? Roxy, its Freddie. Shh. Youíre okay. We donít know whatís wrong, can you tell mum? Roxy?" I donít want to die. I donít want to die. My breathing became even more harsh and my wails became louder. More voices joined the whispers in the background.
"Is Wocksie okay?" Lucy asked someone. "Shh Lucy," Aunt Ginny soothed. My head was pressed against Dadís chest and his t-shirt was damp with tears and snot. Trying to catch my breath, I opened my bleary eyes. It took moments for the blurs to clear. Someone had turned on a light. It helped keep the monsters at bay. The majority of the clan had crowded into the Burrowís smallest room. A mix of dark, silver and the majority of red hair immediately hit my vision. I curled away from the colours. Iíll never see colours again. Iíll never see again. Iíll never smell... or touch... or think... or speak... or hear. I buried myself closer to dadís chest whilst my mum stroked my hair soothingly.
"I-I think thereís some hot chocolate in the kitchen, right Ron?" Bill asked uncertainly to the room, silent save my wails. My dad nodded appreciatively.
"Er... right and er maybe if we ask extra specially Ė there might be some spare cookies from Nana" Ron replied.
The younger children ran from the room eagerly; the older children stayed, biting their lips and swapping between looking at me and looking at each other. Their parents pulled them from the room. Harry practically had to drag James, the nosiest of us all, into the hallway. Normally, I would have smiled. But thatís when itís daytime. Now itís night. And the monsters are at play.
"Roxy? Itís just us now. Whatís the matter princess?" Dad asked quietly.
I†hiccupped and looked up at him. Iím never going to see him again. Tears filled my vision once more, "I-I-Iím going-g to die-e." I hiccupped.
Mum sighed and her hands stopped rubbing my back momentarily and Dad gripped me a little tighter. I knew they were talking to each other with their eyes.
"Rox Ė weíve been over this. Itís not going to happen for a long Ė long time. Not for many, many years."
But itís still going to happen, the monsters whispered.
I shuddered and buried my face in Dadís chest. "B-b-but itís going to h-hurt and i-iíll be by m-myself." I whispered.
Mum sighed. "Firstly, you have no idea itís going to hurt, do you? Secondly, I promise that whatever happens Ė Your dad and I will be waiting for you if we can. Okay?"
"Y-you promise?" I peered over Dadís chest. But itís still going to happen. "B-but Iím still going to stop breathing and I Ė I might never see you again!" I wailed once more. Dad sighed and I felt bad. I knew this wasnít easy on him; he missed his twin everyday and I was pointing out his own fears. But the monsters donít stop, they never stop.
There was silence for a short pause, before mum huffed. I knew what was coming, I knew the routine. "Roxy, this has been going on long enough. I understand that youíre worried, but acting like this every night is not making it any easier. Now you need to accept that itís going to happen."
It was the Ďbe tough to be kindí routine. This happened every so often, and for the rest of the day, Dad would give me sweets in guilt and mum would give extra hugs every time I walked past her.
Itís been two years since it first happened. I was thirteen then. It was just a normal day; I had been daydreaming whilst sitting on the swing. The tree was full of carvings, one of them said 'Fred and George'. I wondered if Fred had ever swung on my swing. I wondered if he had ever looked into the sky and dreamt he could swing to the moon. I wondered if he liked chocolate cookies, like I did. I wondered if he knew he was going to die. I wondered if it hurt. That's when it hit me. I was going to die as well. The monsters got me. Two years of the monsters playing.
I nodded to reassure them somewhat, to pretend that everything was okay. My foot was hanging over the side of the bed and I discreetly pushed the vomit-filled bowl further under my bed - there was no need for them to know how far the phobia had come.
The sun was starting to glimmer over the window ledge. Morning was arriving and I sighed in relief. Glancing up at my parents, they seemed relieved as well. It was funny in a way; I would die for them in an instant. I would take whatever punishment in the world to protect my family.
I could be brave for them, but not for myself.
I could distantly hear my family chatting downstairs. The odd shriek as James or Freddie tricked someone. The yells as Ginny told them off. It was going to be alright. I would say I had a nightmare. Simple.
Daylight made everything better. Daylight meant daytime. Daytime meant the sun was out. There was no night sky in the daylight. And although the monsters grumbled and moaned, although they reached out to attack, I was brave in the sunlight. I could ignore the monsters in the day.
I could pretend to smile when someone played a prank. I could laugh at one of Dad's jokes. I could help Nana cook dinner. I could listen as Auntie Hermione taught me to kniw. It was only in my head that I secretly wondered if they all knew they were going to die.
I could fight the monsters in the daytime. But not at night. No. Night time was playtime. Itís when the monsters come out to play.
A/N: Hello :) I hope you liked this chapter and I didn't freak anyone out too much!
It was a difficult one-shot to write due to the emotions and describing them! A massive thank you so my amazing Beta, EverMalfoy!
For those who are wondering, Roxanne has 'Thanatophobia' - fear of death. Umm I think that's everything, except for I'm not J.K so the characters do not belong to me (sadly). Oh and please review! The little box gets lonely :(
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