Crystalline droplets of rain pattered against the window panes, twirling and glinting as they fell to the ground and splintered into a million glittering shards. The wind howled through the tree branches. The night air was freezing cold.

It was warm inside the small apartment tucked into the suburbs. The heater was turned all the way up, and the peachy walls radiated a soft warmth. Framed family portraits lined the walls, lingering memories of those long gone. An assortment of paintbrushes and sketches littered the carpeted floor. A middle-aged woman was curled up on a bare couch, fast asleep.

In her hand she held a small photograph depicting a woman and a young child.

Once, the child was scared -- terrified -- of thunderstorms.

Once, the woman would have sung the child to sleep.

Once, the woman would have reassured the child, telling her that everything would be fine in the morning.

Once, the child would have slowly drifted off to sleep, comforted by her mother's presence.

But those days were long gone.

Time had passed, and it had taken its toll on the subjects of the photograph.

Time had passed, and the child's naive innocence had been replaced by jaded wisdom.

Time had passed, and the woman had disappeared from the world of the living.

The sketches littering the ground were reminiscent of a desperate attempt to reclaim something that had been long lost -- the innocence and security of yesterday.

The woman slept on, sung to sleep by the bitter cacophony of the present.

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