"What, honey, what's wrong," said Mattie when her husband jumped out of sleep with a catch in his breath.
He didn't say anything at first, just looked at his wife, and she saw he was crying.
"Ryan, what? What happened? Are you having a heart attack?"
He shook his head, but not as a way of saying no to her question, but as a way to clear his mind, to orient himself. He just wanted to keep crying, he wanted tears to fall and he wanted his sobs to be from deep within his gut, and he wanted to hug his wife. Hug her close.
"You're scaring me," said Mattie.
"I'm fine," he said, managing to get out the words in a hoarse gasp.
"You don't seem fine. You're crying. I think I've seen you cry twice in the five years we've been married."
He pulled her close, almost violently, kissed the top of her thick brown hair that smelled like apples. He loved the way her hair smelled.
"Ryan," said Mattie, and he could tell she was about to cry. "What's going on?"
"I saw it, Mattie."
"The end of the world. I know what it looks like. I know where we'll be just before we die."
"Oh," she said, relief in her voice. "You had a bad dream."
"No," said Ryan. "I've had bad dreams. This was...this was a vision."
"Ryan, come on."
"Mattie, I know it in my bones. I don't know when it's going to happen, but it will happen. The kids are gone already, taken by the cold, the ice."
"Ryan, you're scaring the shit out of me now. Don't say that about the kids."
"No, in my dream the kids were gone already and it was just me and you standing under a gray sky, almost silver, on the shore of a frozen lake, and I could hear something beneath the ice, ready to break through, something that would hurt us, would hurt you, bad. So I picked up a rock and I hit you in the back of the head, over and over and over until I was sure you were dead."
"No, listen. Then I just waited and I knew I protected you."
"Protected me? You beat me to death."
"Protected you from what was underneath the ice. And so I waited, and it is so cold, so fucking cold, and then the ice starts to crack and split and beneath the frozen water were thousands of yellow eyes. And I knew I was gonna die, gonna die bad. I looked down at your body, said, 'I love you', and closed my eyes, waiting for the end."