Helen steps into the shower, toes flinching as they touched the chilled ceramic floor. Her muscles strained against her skin, her baser urges craved sleep, and a throbbing pain had started to form between her eyebrows, traversing through the cells in her brain as it pressed against her skull. Her mind was in shreds, and no amount of pain reliever seemed to be dulling down the aching any time soon. She would have to make a mental note to herself to convince Winston to not put her on night duty.
She turns the dial, new and metallic, steam instantly filling the room as the faucet releases thousands of hot droplets, beating over her head in steamy rivulets and darkening her hair as they trickled down her back. Her eyes fall closed to the water as the heat soaks into her skin and her mind immediately fades into dullness while everything slowly becomes a foggy illusion. A breathy sigh slips past her lips, allowing the sensation of the steamy water to calm her being and she leans briefly against the cool tiles as her weak legs threaten to buckle.
It had been a while since she was able to enjoy taking her hot showers. With everything that’s been going on lately, it seemed like it had been years since she was able to have some time alone. Granted, the kids were all fast asleep. Neither one of them failed to overhear the light thudding of their mother’s heels padding against the tiled floors while she had quietly snuck back into the house at the wee hours of the night. Helen had been grateful for that. And Bob however, well, let’s just say that after fifteen years of marriage, it was almost (more like nearly) impossible for anything to disrupt him from his sleep. The Eiffel Tower in Paris could be crumbling down at any second, and even something like that would still have no luck in waking him up.
Having a husband who was a heavy sleeper definitely had its perks.
But most of the times (a lot actually), not necessarily.
Her mind swirls as she stands under the hot water, its sensation soothing her. If only she could stand under what felt like an everlasting waterfall for the rest of eternity, she would. Only she couldn’t. It could never last, and she knew that now. She grabs the wash cloth, lathers it with soap and she bathes her skin lightly, taking careful notice not to touch the scrapes, cuts and bruises that scattered her body. It was a good thing that Bob was asleep. Otherwise, knowing him, he would’ve freaked out (or possibly decided to march on over to Winston’s Dever’s condo, demand that he refuse to let his wife fight crime on her own any further, and break him in half) over seeing her body being covered in splotches of black, blue and ruby red shades. And frankly, the last thing Helen needed was to be arguing and convincing her husband that he needn’t worry.
But then again, Helen couldn’t fault him for that.
He was her husband after all. He had a right to be worried for the safety and well-being of his family.
She allows herself five more seconds to stand under the hot water, then she twists the dial and shuts off the shower. When she steps out, a shiver runs up her spine and the goose flesh instantly rise on her skin. She grabs her towel and wraps it tightly around her curvy frame. She goes to the mirror and uses her hand to wipe away the frosted layer of steam coating the glass. Her reflection in the mirror stares back at her; her hair hung limp and was still dripping, her rosy cheeks that were usually slightly fuller were paler and gaunt, she had more purple bags under her eyes than she normally did and her eyelids were droopy with exhaustion and fatigue.
She huffs a sigh, bringing her palms to rub the exhaustion from her eyes. But even that didn’t seem to work. For a while, she was considering maybe ignoring the process of blow drying her hair. Because really and truly, all she wanted to do was just slip into her pajamas, brush her teeth and just call it a night. Hypocrite. All those times she scolded her kids (especially Violet) of how they should never go to sleep with wet hair. And yet here she was thinking that just…maybe going to bed with wet hair wouldn’t be such a bad thing?
‘Do you want to get sick?! Do NOT go to bed with wet hair!’
Do I really sound like that?
As annoying as it was to hear her own voice echoing in her brain, even she knew that she needed to abide by her own rules. After all, what kind of example would she be setting for her kids if she constantly nagged them about their chores if she wasn’t going to things herself?
‘…A tired mother perhaps?....’
She shakes her head, stifling back a yawn as she quickly dries herself off and fetches her pajamas that were neatly piled on the counter by the sink. She wiggles into her pajamas (careful of the cuts and scrapes) and hangs up her dampened towel to dry. She pulls open the drawer, miserably grabbing the blow dryer and plugs it into the wall. It was a good thing that her family were heavy sleepers, considering the fact that the low drone of the blow dryer was enough to wake up the entire neighborhood if it wanted to. Another yawn escapes from her mouth, and she tries her hardest not to let her head bob up and down as she’s blow drying the water and dampness from her hair. Once her hair was back to its original bob, she turns the dryer off and sets it aside on the counter. She pulls open the cabinet behind the mirror and reaches for disinfectant wipes, the sharp and antiseptic smell mixed with dryer lint was a combination of scents that often hated. But at this point, if she wanted to get a good night’s rest, it was necessary.
She takes a moment to inhale a light breath, before she reluctantly lifts up her pajama top to expose a ring of purple and black welts mixed with a vertical line of red scrapes scattered across her abdomen like a disease. I supposed that’s what I get for allowing myself to get stuck between a door….again. Those damn bank robbers. You’re also forgetting that train that flew off the tracks and almost fell over a cliff. Blowing a deep sigh, she takes a wipe and hisses through gritted teeth as she carefully rubs the cold sheet across her skin. The rubbing alcohol seeps into the depths of her cuts. A sharp pain sears through her abdomen better than a branding iron and it burns around her innards better than boiling water, everything feeling scolded. And it was in that moment where Helen finds herself cursing lightly under her breath for having been such an idiot to convince herself that they were only little scrapes that could easily be taken care of.
She rubs the welts on her elbows, her knees and her shoulder blade. Marching over to the garbage can and throwing in the dampened sheet with a huff, she quickly brushes her teeth, rinses and then slams her palm against the light switch to turn off the light. Darkness engulfs around her being as she makes her way into the bedroom. Though in that moment when even she knew that her bed was calling her, she walks right past it and surprisingly finds herself exiting through the door and making her way down the stairs. Her hand grasps onto the railing for dear life, the muscles in her thighs and calves constraint against her skin; the thud of her heels against the cold wooden stairs echoed against the base of her skull, the wheels in her head refused to put a stop to their spinning, and her pulse thrummed against her eardrums.
She reaches the end of the stairs and makes careful notice to walk with feather light steps. The last thing she needed was to wake anyone up at this time of the night. She slumps her way towards the counter, grasping onto the edge of the stool to balance herself. She takes a deep breath, and lets out a long exhale. She tilts her head upwards, eyes squinting to peer at the clock hanging on the wall above the refrigerator.
Suddenly, that $4.25 bottle of champagne that Bob had purchased a few days ago didn’t seem so bad after all. At this point, Helen knew that she needed sleep, and it was sad to say that a cup of peppermint tea followed two capsules of pain reliever just wouldn’t do the trick. Unfortunately, she had to learn that the hard way.
'…A little glass won’t hurt….’
After all, even the greatest of Heroes needed to have their dose of alcohol once in a while.
Nothing illegal about that.
When she drags her feet towards the refrigerator, her hand grasped around the cold silver medal and is just about to pull the door open, it was a strange sound that caused her to pause from proceeding any further. A sound that alerted her that she was no longer alone, and another person’s presence had somehow managed to accompany her.
She turns sharply over her shoulder, eyes creased and fully alert, ears hearkened for any sound that a burglar was possibly on the prowl to break in. Her instincts kick in, and she quickly pulls open the drawer and pulls out a shiny, albeit, sharp object.
As was the way of not only a super hero, but as a mother most importantly, even Helen knew that she always had to be alert and ready for any danger that presented itself. She turns around slowly, her grip tightening around the defenseless silverware as she assumes her ‘fighting’ position.
She expected a fist to plough through her stomach, or a pair of arms to wrap around her neck from behind and throw her to the ground. She was even prepared for the knife to disappear from her hand and be used against her, cutting across her skin until blood pooled from her body.
Only, she was still standing in one piece.
Not a single threat managed to come her way.
Out of complete silence, it was faint sound of sniffling and heavy breathing that caught her off guard. The house itself was in darkness, and she finds herself squinting in the dark, gently setting the knife down onto the counter. It was silent for a few moments.
Then a whimper arose.
‘….Is that….crying I hear?’
Helen finds herself immediately rushing towards the stairs. Jack-Jack had probably woken up. Only the crying wasn’t a loud, bellowing sound that she was used to hearing. No. It was softer. Quieter. Nor was the sound coming from upstairs like she had thought. Furrowing her brow, she takes her foot off the first stair and instead walks in the direction towards the living room. The crying and heavy breathing getting louder with each step she took.
‘Jack-Jack is asleep….’
‘So is Bob….
‘It can’t be Dash….so…it has to be….’
Because the one thing she was not expecting to see was her daughter, and the small gasp that escapes from the girl’s mouth only confirmed her suspicions. It’s still pretty dark as the girl snaps her head upwards. Her daughter’s silhouette is sleek and fluid, highlighted by the thin columns of moonlight that leaked through the cracks of the curtains surrounding their window as they stretched their way across the carpeted floor. She was curled up on the couch, knees tucked to her chest, and her breathing was heavy.
“Honey, what are you still doing up?” Helen breathes a small sigh of relief. “It’s late.”
But there’s a pressing silence that follows instead of the words she’d been expecting to hear. Helen finds herself waiting patiently, putting a hand to her mouth as she stifles a yawn. The girl still sat on the couch, refusing to budge any second. And it was in that moment when Helen heaves a deep sigh, growing slightly agitated.
“Vi?” She cups a hand to her hip, her brows dent through the dark. “Why’re you still awake?”
Before the girl had a chance to answer, Helen takes a step downwards and reaches over to flick on the lamp sitting on the side table. Just as Helen expected, to see her eldest child, sitting in on the sofa cushions with her knees pulled to her chest. But what she hadn’t been expecting, was to see her daughter’s watery eyes enlarged, her skin clammy and her face was wet and shiny with tears. Helen’s widened, and Violet quickly turned her head away from her mother.
“Vi, honey….” Helen gasps quietly. “Are you-“
Helen watches as her daughter shifts uncomfortably in the cushions, more sniffling soon follows. She’s using the heels of her palms to wipe at her face, but more tears flow freely down her cheeks. Her breathing rigid and unsteady.
“I’m fine mom!” She chokes. “…I-I’m fine.”
Apparently that was all the confirmation she needed, as Helen instantly walks towards the couch and plops herself down onto the sofa right next to her daughter. She puts a hand on Violet’s shoulder, and the girl flinches at the feel of her mother’s hand grasping onto her shoulder. She turns her head away even more, burying her nose into her knees as she wraps her arms tighter around them. Helen finds a sigh slipping past her lips, noting the way how her daughter was shaking underneath the palm of her hand.
“You’re not fine.” She stares at her daughter. “Vi-“
“Y-yes I am.” She mumbles in her knees. “I-I’m fine….”
Helen uses her other hand to grab hold of Violet’s other shoulder. She turns her daughter towards her, her head was still bowed between her knees. Helen uses her thumb and forefinger to pinch her chin and she gently lifts the girl’s head upward so that her violet eyes meet her brown ones. Salty tears were dripping into her mouth. And if Helen was being honest with herself, the one thing she absolutely couldn’t stand to see, was for a mother to be seeing her child crying.
“Honey?” Helen gaze morphs to a worried one. “Why are you crying?”
Violet opens her mouth to speak, but quickly closes it shut as she stares at her mother with wide pleading eyes. If it was one thing Helen knew about her daughter, it was the fact that no matter how hard she tried to put up any barriers, it was only so much until eventually those barriers would be broken down.
A single tear rolled down her cheek, stinging her tear stained face and dripping steadily into her night shirt. Her bottom lip quivered, her eyes wrinkled and it was in that moment, that Helen could see just how hard she was trying not to let herself break down in front of her. As much as she was trying to hold it in, she no longer could. Without even a second thought, even Violet knew she couldn’t hold it in much longer, and she lets herself fall into her mother’s arms, burying her face into the crook of Helen’s shoulder, and she instantly wraps her arms around her mother’s waist, and cries silently into her shoulder.
“Oh honey.” Helen whispers into her ear. “Shh, it’s okay.” She wraps her arms around her daughter’s frame, rubbing her back in small, tender circles. “Mom’s here, honey. It’s okay.”
She lets her daughter cry into her shoulder unceasingly, hands clutching the fabric of her pajama top. Helen holds her in silence, rocking her slowly as her tears soaked her shoulder. She threads her fingers through her black silky hair, stroking it in a comforting rhythm. She would worry about her duties tomorrow. Right now, her daughter needed her.
“Vi, honey, take a deep breath. Okay?” She gently pulls her from her shoulder, and the girl obeys. Albeit still shaky. She finally catches enough air to breathe and to at least stop the crying. “That a girl.” Helen strokes the tears from her wet face. “Now, tell me what’s wrong, sweetie.”
Violet blinks once, and then another. She takes a deep breath, sniffs and leans her head against her mother’s chest. “I….I-I had…” She chokes. “….I had a b-bad dream….” Another sniff.
Helen’s eyes widen. “A bad dream?” She looks down at her daughter. “About what, honey?”
Violet heaves a heavy, shaky sigh. She closes her eyes, pressing her lips into a tight line. “…I…I-I can’t r-really….t-talk about it….”
In that moment, Helen finds her arms squeezing just a fraction tighter and Violet instantly breathed more slowly, her body melting into her mom’s as every muscle lost its tension to the night surrounding them. She didn’t force her to say any more than she could handle. She knew her daughter well enough in moments like these. She recalled those nights of holding her daughter at night whenever she had had nightmares. Some hadn’t been that bad. While some had been pretty ugly.
Instantly, a thought comes to Helen’s mind. She looks up to peer at the clock hanging on the wall.
“Honey?” She gently pulls her daughter away and peers into her eyes with a small smile. “Why don’t we go for a little drive?”
Violet furrows her brows, though her face was still stained with tears. Because ‘going for a little drive’ was the absolute last thing she had expected her mother to say.
“G-go for a drive?” She sniffs, wiping her tears with the sleeve of her pajama top. “T-to where, Mom?”
Helen uses her thumbs to stroke the tears from her daughter’s cheeks. “You’ll see.” Then rises from the sofa, and holds out a hand for her daughter to take. “Come on.”
Violet frowns, blinking once, and then another. She looks at her mother’s outstretched hand, then back up to her mother, who had a warm smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Then she looks at her mother’s hand once again, and reluctantly, she takes her mother’s hand in her own as Helen gently pulls her up from the sofa.
Violet never questioned her mother after she had suggested that they ‘go for a little drive’. But when they arrived at a place that was all too familiar, she knew what her mother had planned up her sleeve. They sit on the hood of the Incredimobile, parked in the empty lot with only one other car sitting a few lanes away.
“Careful.” Helen tells her softly. “It’s still a little hot.”
Violet tries to prevent the small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. She swirls the cardboard cup in her hand, watching as the hot drink flows as slowly as cream. Then she carefully tilts the cup to her mouth and lets the warm liquid coat her tongue and flows down her throat. Thankfully, the drink was warm, just how she liked it. The top is swirled with white milk foam and spotted with cocoa powder. It smelled like Charlie’s Chocolate factory and she was torn between wanting to savor it, and wanting to inhale it.
“Mine’s pretty warm.” She murmurs. “Thanks for the hot chocolate, Mom.”
How she could’ve missed that, she would never know.
Helen smiles as she tilts her own cup to her lips and allows the rich, warm melted Belgian truffle to flow down her throat. The long shadows of the evening dissolved into the gathering darkness of the nighttime. The air cooled and the crickets sang. It was a good thing that it was still warm out.
“I figured a cup of hot chocolate would clear the air.” Helen tells her. “It always made you feel better when you were little.”
Violet finds herself smiling a little at the memories. “Yea.” She nods. “It did.”
Helen sets her up down beside her and Violet does the same with her own. It’s silent between them for a little while. Violet keeps her head bowed down, while Helen keeps her gaze focused on the girl sitting beside her. They both knew that this needed to be solved once and for all.
“So….you had a bad dream.”
Violet finds herself wincing slightly, but finds the courage to give a numb nod of her head.
Helen sighs, a sad one, knowing this routine all too well. She slides a protective arm around her daughter’s shoulder and pulls her closer towards her. Violet immediately responds to this by resting her head against her mother’s shoulder, temporarily abandoning the hot chocolate sitting beside her.
“Let’s talk about it.”
Helen murmurs and rests her chin atop the girl’s head. Her fingers stroke her shoulder in a motherly fashion, and Violet finds herself catching her bottom lip between her teeth. Because no matter how many times they have gone through this before, the topic itself was always rather difficult to talk about.
“….You kept leaving.”
Helen’s eyes widen and she gently pulls away to look down at her daughter. “What?”
Violet sucks in a deep breath, keeping her gaze cast downwards, avoiding any eye contact whatsoever.
“…In my dream….” She sniffles. “…Y-you….you left….” A wheezy breath. “…A-and….you n-never came back…”
Helen blinks once, and then another. “Honey, where is all this-“
“That time when you left….” Violet begins quietly, tears sliding down her cheeks. “….W-when you left…me and Dash in the cave….to go find Dad….” Another sniffle. “…I-I was scared….”
“I thought I….” Her words tremble and she shakes her head. “I-I…thought I would…never see you again.”
“And when….” She chokes on the sob that was begging to be released. “…And when….y-you were captured….u-under E-evelyn’s control….” She whimpers. “I-I….I thought that you…a-and Dad…and U-uncle Lucius….” She finally lifts her head up, her face now shiny with tears, her bottom lip quivering, unable to hold on for much longer.
Helen’s heart clenches as she witnesses the slow desolate beads of tears racing down her cheeks. Her nose grew very red at the tip; then her mouth screwed itself around by her left ear and gradually, her round face wrinkled till it resembled a withered crabapple. And right away, Helen could only see just much her walls were about to burst.
“Oh sweetie, come here.”
She wraps both of her arms around her daughter’s withering frame, holding her close. Violet wasted no time in wrapping her arms around her mother’s waist, sobbing silently into her shoulder. She squeezes her just a fraction harder, tightening her grip around her as if that will prevent her from shattering into pieces in her arms. Her own throat began to sting as a lump began to form, but she forces herself to swallow back her own tears that threatened to escape any time soon. Because right now, her daughter needed her.
She had to be a strong for her. She had to be the mother that she needed her to be.
“I’m here.” Helen whispers softly. “I’m not going anywhere, Honey.” She pulls back just far enough to dip her head down to look into her daughter’s eyes. She brings her hands forward to cup her cheeks and tenderly brush the wet tears away with her thumbs. “It was only a bad dream, okay?”
“But….b-but….y-you kept dying….”
Now that was the last thing she had expected to hear.
Her gaze widens again, stunned into silence. “What?”
“You kept dying, Mom!” Violet begins hyperventilating. “Y-you….every dream I had….y-you….o-or me…!”
“Y-you kept dying!” She chokes through a sob. “O-or I-I…k-kept dying….a-and w-we…!”
“Honey, it’s ok-“
“A-and we….w-we never s-saw…each other again!” Her throat burns, her face hot and sticky, her breathing grew rapid and uncontrollable. “I-I...I-I’m s-scared, mom! I-I don’t want t-to l-lose y-you a-and-!”
That seemed to put a slow stop to her rapid breathing and uncontrollable sobbing. Helen forces her daughter to look into her eyes, the look that her mom always gave her whenever she needed her to calm down. It was starting to work, considering that she was finally taking enough breaths to catch the sobs. But it wasn’t the pained look at Violet’s face that was causing a knot to form in Helen’s stomach. It was something else.
“Vi, you mentioned that I ‘kept’ dying…” Helen pauses, wishing that she wasn’t about to hear what she thought she would. “…Have you been having these bad dreams often?”
Violet’s bottom lip trembles, and she catches it quickly between her teeth. With a slow nod, in an instant, the girl was back in a fresh bout of tears. Helen’s spine immediately crawls, because this was the last thing she had expected, and frankly, it was one of the things she hated. That was having to deal with the agony of seeing her own children suffering from emotional trauma of hero work.
Helen breathes a wheezy sigh, and has no other choice to but to wrap her arms around her daughter and let her cry into her shoulder once again.
“Oh Vi, sweetie,” Her own lip trembles slightly, but she puts a stop to it. “Why didn’t you tell me that you were having bad dreams?”
Violet begins to calm down slightly. The crying was coming to a slow stop, and she only hugs her mother tighter. Terrified of letting her go, for fear of what might happen if she did. She takes a shaky breath, then opens her mouth to speak.
“…I….” She hiccups. “I…I didn’t…w-want to b-bother you….”
“Bother me?” Helen asks. “Honey, I’m your mother.” She combs her fingers through her hair. “You’re supposed to bother me with these things.”
“No….” Violet sighs. “I mean….I…didn’t want to bother you….” A pause. “….while you were….”
“While I was what?”
She sucks on her teeth. “….While you were….at your….n-new job…”
That’s when the words hit home. Hard amongst her gut. Because in reality, those words were the last thing Helen had wanted to hear. I knew I shouldn’t have taken that job. As much as being out there fighting crime was something that she had considered keeping up with for the rest of her life, being a mother had become a part of her identity. Her family was much more rewarding than reading about “Elastigirl Saves the Day Yet Again!” in the Sunday morning newspaper. Right now, Elastigirl could wait. It was Helen Parr, mother and wife, that she only cared about right now.
“Honey that doesn’t matter.” Helen holds onto her tighter. “I don’t ever want you to feel that you can’t come to me when you need to.”
Another sniffle as Violet gives a numb nod.
But of course, her mother’s instinct begins to kick in. “Vi, is that what this is about?” Because she knew. She just knew. “….Me being away from home?”
She sucks on her teeth. Her body goes still, and she knew that there was no way she could hide this any longer. Without even thinking, she gives another nod.
Helen sighs. “When did the bad dreams start, honey?”
She takes a deep breath. “….After you left….” A pause. “….For your….first mission….”
She had hoped she wouldn’t hear that. And now, the truth was out. And it was the one thing she feared when she had agreed to take the job in the first place. Immediately, the guilt sat not on her chest but inside her brain. What she had done, she could not undo. No matter how much she wanted to.
“…This is about me being away from home.” Helen sighs and looks down at her daughter. “Doesn’t it.”
Another deep breath, before she gives a numb nod.
She breathes a sigh, another deep sigh and presses her lips into a thin line. I never should’ve taken that job. She closes her eyes and hugs her daughter.
“…I just….” Violet begins quietly. “….I…I just miss…having you at home, mom.”
Helen’s heart clenches. And almost instantly, she forces herself to swallow past the large lump that’s swelling in the back of her throat. Though her own tears were begging to be released, she pushes them back. As much as she silently begged for a time machine to just magically appear right at this very moment, she knew that wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. Remorse etches at her heart. Guilt gnawing like a worm at the core of an apple. She holds her daughter tightly to her chest, terrified at the thought of letting her go. And Violet only responds to this by her burying her face deeper into her mother’s shoulder.
Helen breathes a sigh. “Vi, honey,” She plants a soft on the crown of the girl’s head. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Violet says nothing as she hugs her mom’s waist tighter.
“You’re never going to lose me.” She couldn’t promise that forever. But it was a promise worth keeping. “We’re always going to be together.”
“I’m always going to be here.”
After all those years, she was still here.
“No matter what happens.” Another sigh as she plants another kiss to her daughter’s head, holding her lips there a little longer. “I promise.” She murmurs into her hair. “Okay?”
She sniffles, but manages to find the courage to whisper, “Okay.”
From the time Violet was three years old, hugs could never be long enough for her. Violet always knew that in her mother’s arms she was safe and her worries instantly disappeared like rain on summer earth. In this embrace, she was cocooned better than any butterfly-to-be. She felt her soft skin and the gentle squeeze on his own. She bathed in her warmth and the smell of freshly laundered clothes. No matter when the end came it was too soon and he would launch a campaign for more.
“I love you, sweetie.” She whispers softly. “I love you so much.”
Those three little words were all she needed to hear.
She hugs her mom tighter, and whispers, “…I love you too, Mom.”
If it was one thing Violet knew about her mother, was that she always kept her promises no matter what.
So when she finds her eyes snapping open at 4:10am, her heartbeat slows, and there’s a feeling of contentment and peace. A small smile curls at the corners of her lips, noting the presence of her mother’s body laying right next to her, still asleep.
It was moments like this that Violet found herself missing. Those memories of her having nightmares about the boogeyman under her bed, her mom making two cups of hot chocolate to calm her down, and to make sure that all was well, she would come and curl in the bed with her until she was fast asleep. It was a good thing that her bed was big enough to fit two people on it.
But it was moments like this that Violet could never tire of.
The saying ‘you’re never too old to need your mother’, really spoke truth.
Violet finds herself snuggling closer towards her mother, burying her face in her neck, and sighing in content at the scent of perfume and clean clothes. She places her hand on top of Helen’s and closes her eyelids shut.
“Thanks Mom,” She whispers. “…For everything.”
Sleep cloaks her. And it was the first time that Violet was able to fall into a peaceful slumber.