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The first time was like a dream.

Cold sweat, waking up in the morning with the sun shining in through the window as the cicadas sing. Summer is starting and the weather is warm and you're still alive. What had you seen? The festival had passed and screams had filled the air and there had been blood, so much blood. But there is your Satoko, sleepily blinking and swaying as sleep leaves her. Not dead. She wants to know what's wrong; you tell her you had a bad dream. You believe it.

The second time was like a nightmare.

You can't stop screaming. She's trying to hold you, trying to help you calm down, but it's no use. You know. You know. Somehow this isn't a dream and she died. She died and you couldn't stop it and then you died too. You don't remember dying, but you can feel it. You feel it in your bones that you were ripped away from your life and thrown back to this moment right now. You try to tell her; you try to warn her that bad things are going to happen, but she strokes your cheek and says that it was just a bad dream. You'll be okay. You see Hanyuu staring from the kitchen. She is sorry.

The third time was like a restless slumber.

Your hands cover your mouth before the scream escapes it this time. Satoko continues sleeping, unimpeded by your muffled sobbing. You feel like you need to throw up. You hurry to the bathroom. It happened again. Why does it keep happening? Why did Keiichi do that? Keiichi is your friend, and he would never hurt you. Hanyuu says that you need to try harder; maybe this time things will be different. Things will be different. You aren't going to leave the house. If you are going to die, they will have to come seek you out because you will not go willingly. Hanyuu doesn't approve. It hurts, but you ignore it anyway.

The fourth time was like slowly suffocating.

Your eyes open and you don't feel scared. You don't feel sad. You hardly feel anything but a thick lump of dread in the pit of your stomach. You almost wish you could have woken up screaming like before; you feel like you've already lost something important as the routine of waking up from a violent death already feels old hat. You couldn't hide from it. You tried so hard, but the adults wouldn't let you keep yourself safe. They forced you to leave, forced you to visit the clinic, forced you to go to school. They ignored all your protests and pleading because you are a child and they know better than you. You are powerless. Hanyuu apologises. You see the madness creeping into Mion's eyes a little quicker this time.

The fifth time was like a dream.

This time the first thought you have waking up is that Mion has a sister. You must have known that already, but you didn't think it was important. It is very important. Hanyuu is talking a lot already, but you don't think you can take it. You're crying and you didn't even realise it. Satoko hears you again. You've pulled her back into this without meaning to. She asks what's wrong. You tell her you had a bad dream. Everything is familiar; you've done this before. You know what ending you're going to get this time before you even dress for school.

The sixth time was like being knocked out cold.

As soon as you wake up, you go to the kitchen. You don't stop to listen to Hanyuu who is babbling a constant stream of advice into your ear. You don't listen as she asks what you're doing as you reach into the kitchen drawer. You don't listen as she screams for you to stop.

The seventh time was like insomnia.

Hanyuu is angry. You're not even fully conscious before she is in your face, asking how you could be so selfish. You don't even fully remember what you did until she violently mimes it for you. She points at your sleeping friend. You left Satoko to wake up to your bloody temper tantrum. What kind of witch does something like that to the people who love them? It strikes you that she is right; you have been selfish. You only thought of yourself time and time again, trying so hard to survive when all your friends were dying around you as well. You feel sick, but Hanyuu won't stop yelling. Your head throbs. Monster. Monster. Monster. You have to save them. You can't even save yourself. Satoko wakes up. She asks what's wrong. You're crying again, and you can't keep yourself from saying that you had a bad dream. Satoko tries to comfort you, but it won't work. It won't ever work.