With a sudden jerk, he woke up. After a few fleeting moments of panic, he immediately calmed as the familiarity of his surroundings brought peace to his fears. Soft, white, cotton sheets embraced his form. A light down comforter on top. The very sunlight shining through the gossamer shrouded window seemed almost blindingly white. The temperature was perfect. The mattress was perfect. His pillows were perfect. The scent of pancakes wafting down the hall was perfect. With a deep, contented sigh, he stretched his arms over his head.
“Perfect,” he grinned to himself, as he scrunched back down under the covers.
“Honey?” A melodious voice carried on the wings of angels settled in his ears.
“Mmm,” his smile broadened.
“Honey? Come on now…”
He slowly pulled back the blankets. There, standing in the doorway, was a gorgeous woman. Light green dress with a belt across her waist and a bob in her hair. His wife, he had to remind himself, Isabella.
“‘Morning, Izzy,” he smiled from his place of comfort.
This is wrong… This is all wrong…
“Good morning, lazy,” she smiled, “It’s Sunday! Why are you still in bed!”
“Why are you making pancakes?” he giggled from beneath the blankets.
“Because! Ugh, tell me you’ve forgotten! Again! Sylus! It’s the church breakfast! We always bring pancakes and berry preserves. You know that,” she playfully smacked his feet under the blankets, “Now get up, Mr. Mayor. Shower off if you have to, but we need to get going soon!”
Why is this happening… Stop Stop… STOP!
Despite the screaming in his head, he grinned uncontrollably.
With a bounce in his step, Sylus Synclaire made his way down the hall. Finding the bathroom occupied, he knocked gently on its wooden surface.
“I’m almost done!” Ah it was his beloved son, Vincent.
“Be quick, if you would. I’ve already incurred your mother’s ire by sleeping in! I’d like not to make it worse!”
This isn’t me… who… what… Help… Help… Help…
The door swung open.
“Ah, there you are, my boy! Spick and span as always!”
“Good morning, Dad,” the boy beamed as he wrapped his arms around his father.
After a quick hug, they exchanged places. “Help your mother with her cooking, won’t you?”
“Always do, Dad,” Vincent laughed as he romped down the hall.
Warm with pride, Sylus got into the shower. What a perfect life he lived.
It’s not perfect… it’s not real… it hurts… it hurts… it hurts…
Once he was out of the shower, he dressed himself and set his hair perfectly in place. With a nod of confidence, he joined his family in the hall.
“Ah there you are! The loves of my life!” Gliding up the hall, he took them both in his arms, “Oh how proud of you both I am…”
“Thanks, Dad,” Vinnie grinned in return.
Releasing them, his wife gave him a coy grin, “There’s some more cake tins in the kitchen if you wouldn’t mind bringing them out to the car.”
“Mind? Of course I don’t mind! Anything for you, buttercup!”
Wake up wake up wake up wake up…
With a quick peck on his wife’s cheek, he swooped into the kitchen to retrieve the rest of the cake tins.
A wicked grin crossed his lips. A voice that wasn’t his own filled the quiet of his empty home. “You’re not in control here.”
As if nothing had happened, a grin snapped across Sylus’ lips. With a joyous bounce in his step, he joined his family in the car.
Church was his favorite time of the week. Being with the community. Mingling with his constituents. Ah, the life of a grounded politician. Once he’d helped his beloved wife carry her delicious, award-winning pancakes into the dining hall, he stepped outside for a quick smoke and to greet everyone as they entered. Everyone called him Mr. Mayor and it filled him with pride. As he moved to greet the Miles’ family, their arms already poised to shake his hand, someone pulled him aside.
“Oh, Sylus! A moment, if you would?” Ah, Pastor Quinton. His lifelong mentor. The reason he carried his devout faith into politics.
“Of course, Pastor. What can I do for you?”
“Would you mind assisting with Holy Communion today? The monthly breakfast has everyone hoping for a fast sermon. Your assistance would assure them of that.”
“Then I’d be honored, Pastor. Just tell me when and where you want me and I’ll do my part!”
“Excellent. I knew I could count on you, Mr. Mayor.”
Sylus beamed with pride.
The sermon was wonderful. Just as wonderful as sharing a community breakfast with his family and the community who felt he was worthy enough to lead them into the future.
Perfect. Everything was perfect.
After he milled around a bit, talking plans and politics, he finally made his way to his faithful secretary, Sarah. A brilliant young woman. Womanized by his predecessor. He felt nothing but embarrassment for the abuse his position had been put through in the past. He felt it only right that he reassure her he wasn’t the same heathen of a man.
“Sarah!” he beamed, opening his arms to embrace her. With a grin, she hugged him in return. “How’s your brother holding up?”
“He’s doing much better, thank you. I hope you don’t mind that I’m visiting him this weekend…”
“Of course not! Family is what matters most, my dear,” Izzy approached from behind, wrapping her arms lovingly around his waist, “Cherish them. Always.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. Mayor… I-I’m just sorry to leave you hanging like this soon after your election…”
“Not a problem, my dear and never you worry about emergencies. I can hold my own,” his wife gently nudged him, “For a while.”
Sarah covered her mouth, stifling her laughter.
“Well don’t you worry, Mr. Mayor. I’ll only be gone the weekend. Then we can get down to business!”
“Business!” she cheered in reply.
“Take care of yourself, my dear,” Sylus grinned.
“You, too, Mr. Mayor!”
Izzy pulled him to the side.
“You’re going to be such a good mayor, Sylus. I know you’re nervous about this whole thing… about how sudden it was, but you’re going to do just fine,” she gently straightened his tie.
“You really think so? All these people relying on me to take care of them…”
“You take care of your family and your community just fine. You’ll be wonderful.” Leaning up on her toes, she kissed her husband gently on the lips.
“Get Vinnie. We should be on our way. I have to see my parents tonight. They completely understand if you’d like to stay home.”
“You sure that’s okay?”
She patted him on the chest, “Next month,” she gave him a wink.
Sylus grinned from ear to ear.
His son sat at their now empty table, drawing on a napkin. Strange geometric shapes that seemed orderly yet chaotic in Sylus’ mind. One of the shapes looked oddly familiar… An eye… With a star inside of it… It… It winked at him?
“Practicing animation?” Sylus forced a nervous laugh.
“N-no? Just drawing…” Vincent was caught off guard.
“You’re very talented.”
“Thanks, Dad,” his son stood up and hugged him tightly.
“Your mother’s waiting for us out in the car,” he smiled as he mussed his son’s hair.
“Okie dokie! Oh that’s right! It’s Grandma’s pie night! Are you coming, Dad?”
Sylus shook his head slowly, “I’m afraid I need some downtime after this election madness.”
“Okay…” Vincent’s voice wavered.
“Oh now, now,” Sylus knelt down to his level, “We’ll have plenty of Sunday’s together with Grandma and Grandpa once everything settles back into place.”
“You promise?” his son sniffed as if on the verge of tears.
With a grin and another quick hug, Vincent darted out of the dining hall.
“Hey, uh, Mr. Mayor…”
Sylus stood up slowly. He turned to find Mr. Miles standing behind him.
“We, uh, still on for the game?” his hands were shoved deep into his pockets. “I-I mean I get it if I-I’m not exactly the crowd you want to be hanging around anymore…”
“A hard-working and upstanding member of the community?” Sylus grinned, “Of course I’m still on for the game! Keep it between us, though, because I’m supposed to be resting while the wife’s with the in-laws.”
Mr. Miles chuckled, “Watching the game is resting enough.”
“Not if it’s a lively one!”
Jeron… Jeron… Help… Help me… Please…
“True!” Jeron laughed, “See you at four then?”
“Bring the booze?”
Sylus laughed, “I really should be cutting back…”
“Then bring extra chips. Gloria made a lot of dip to celebrate your election.”
“Will she be joining us?”
Jeron gave him a confused look, “Of course not. I take Kim to my church then she takes her to her’s.”
“Oh… Right! Different denominations, right?”
Jeron nodded, “Gloria’s far more invested in reclamation than I am… I sometimes feel like a failure for not celebrating my heritage more…”
“You know,” Sylus moved closer to him, “There’s no wrong way to worship God.”
“As long as you’re praising Him and celebrating His glory, it doesn’t matter how or under what roof! That’s a little known fact these church types don’t want getting around…”
Jeron snorted, “And yet you’re a church-type! When was the last time you missed a Sunday?!”
Sylus thought a moment, “Never?”
“But if I’m being honest, my faith is more a part of me than something spoken to me once a week. I come for the community. That’s really what the point of all this is, you know?”
With a nod, Jeron patted Sylus on the shoulder, “See you at four, Mr. Mayor.”
Sylus was, once more, beaming with pride.
The ride home was in comfortable silence. Everything was just so darn perfect.
Once they pulled into the drive, Sylus slipped out of the driver’s seat and held the door open for his wife to enter.
“Drive safe, love,” he kissed her on the forehead before closing the door.
He waved them down the drive and watched them until the car drove out of view. With a smile on his lips and a song in his heart, Sylus made his way inside where he resigned himself to take a quick nap before joining Jeron for the game.
Let me out! Please! Let me out!
No one can hear you here, mortal.
Please… Let me out… I can’t… I don’t want this… Please…
Shhh… Accept your fate. Embrace your place in the impermanence of life. You will perish and so, too, will the betrayer.
Shh… Rest… Rest now. Close your eyes and rest. Dream of perfection, for it will be the last you ever feel of the waking world.
A knock on the door woke him from his rest. He’d fallen asleep on the couch to the droning sound of the television. Even here, with his legs draped unceremoniously over the armrest, everything was perfect.
Another knock came.
The door slowly opened. Jeron appeared in the doorway to the living room.
“Awfully bold of you to keep your door unlocked while you’re asleep, Mr. Mayor.”
“Ah what’s a bit of danger in these placid times?”
Jeron shook his head, “Started worrying you’d changed your mind when you didn’t show up at 4…”
“Oh dear! How late is it?!”
“Only 4:30, but…” Jeron rubbed the back of his neck, “You know… I was just… Starting to wonder if you’d changed your mind about hanging out with me. Being a high profile individual and all that…”
Sylus sat up on the couch, “Why would I change my mind?”
Jeron shrugged, “Lots of reasons…”
“Well none come to my mind, so there aren’t any. I overslept HELP! I…”
“I… I-it was nothing… Nothing at all… JERON HELP!” Sylus slapped his hands over his mouth.
“S-Sylus?” Jeron slowly backed out of the doorway.
“Jeron please…” Sylus sobbed through his hands, “Please… it hurts… Please… I CAN’T WAKE UP! PLEASE!”