Mary sat up in a panic, heart pounding and lungs aching for air. She brought a shaky hand to her face to wipe the sweat from her forehead and forced her breathing to slow into long, soothing breaths. The images of blood and gore clung to the corners of her mind as she slowly rose from bed. The jagged shadows in the dark room did nothing to ease her mind of the dark thoughts that haunted her dreams.

It's over, she told herself. It's all over. No more. You've done your part and you don't have to worry about it anymore.

She shivered, though, because she knew no matter how many times she said it, those words would never quite ring true. Because they weren't.

0~0~0

Before her return, Mary had thought PTSD was something only soldiers had to worry about. But as her family noticed her growing increasingly antisocial, she had fallen into a panic. Of course she had to pretend that it was merely the stress of coming home after years away from London. Desperately she sought out a remedy for her increasingly erratic mood swings. She dreaded the day when someone would ask her what was wrong—what, exactly, she had been up to in her years away from home. Before that day she hoped to rid herself of the traumas she had suffered. No one had to know what she had been doing. Let them all believe that she was simply an army nurse returned home. There was no harm in them believing in that half-truth if it was the best way to keep everyone from harm.

It was not a lie, and if it was, it was the whitest lie she could think of.

Besides, everyone has their secrets.