[personal profile] skysailor
I feel a tickle on my arm. My eyes widen, further and further until I feel them open a second time, this time in the waking world. It is the gray dark of late night here. There is nothing on my arm. Sleep sucks me back down.

I feel a tickle on my arm. This time my eyes open without effort, but it is still dark, still too early to get up. I check my arm. Nothing. Maybe my paranoid brain is remembering that we saw a roach in the house today and didn't catch it. Anything that moves the hairs on my skin feels like a bug after I see one of those. Air. Bedsheets. Existence. I scratch my arm as the imagined sensation moves along my body, my raised hairs tossing me false alarms at random. I don't go back to sleep.

After a while of this itchy paranoia, I sit up in bed, trying not to look at my husband sleeping beside me. The dark of night and my poor night vision always conspire to highlight the wrong parts of his face, turning his eyes to sunken shadows, any smile to a rictus grin. I can't even tell if his eyes are open or closed, so if he's turned my way, it always feels like he's watching me. The sheet shivers with the movement of his sleeping breath.

There's nowhere to look in the room that my bad night vision doesn't paint in imagined horrors. The mirror is the worst. My friends used to scare me with Bloody Mary tales as a kid, and now I always feel like I see movement when I look at mirrors in the dark. And worse, my face, too, succumbs to the palette of evening shadow, pale and sunken, with darkness in the wrong places that reminds me of the other mirror game of Bloody Holes. Ugh. I start to look away when I see movement. And even knowing it's just the turn of my head, I can't stop myself from checking.

There is something on my arm.

I get out of bed and walk over to the mirror and the light switch, and before I've even reached the light switch, I see it - the roach! The phobic panic takes me over and I flail away at my arm with an open palm until I can't see it anymore. I'm about to reach for the light when movement in the mirror catches my eye again.

There is a lump on my arm, a spot just beneath that tickle that I realize feels strangely numb.

It splits open. A black shape emerges, and as I stand transfixed, I recognize the oval form, the tickle of its six tiny legs.

I slam my hands against the light switch, turning to shout my husband awake, but his eyes are already open, no optical illusion of night. Yet the shiver of the sheets is not from his breathing. Neither is the ripple of his skin, as the lumps move underneath it.

I feel a tickle on my arm.
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