I couldn't sleep. The sound of someone screaming woke me up. I realized it was me and I was ashamed. I had screamed like a nine year-old boy. But someone had grabbed my ankle. I felt it just before waking up. I thought it was my wife. I turned over to her side of the bed. She wasn't there. She was at her mother's.
I started sweating. My left arm was going numb. I massaged it. I breathed heavily through my nose. I was finally tired but I felt my entire body going numb. I felt my brain moving toward sleep and I couldn't move my legs or arms or head. I knew this is what dying felt like. I screamed inside of my brain to stay awake. After a few minutes I felt my body shaking and I wasn't paralyzed.
I turned over on my side. I thought about broccoli. I thought about celebrities who died of cancer. I thought about moving to Mexico or Spain or wherever it was they had siestas. I was almost asleep when I was paralyzed again. I screamed inside of my brain, louder this time. It took me almost a minute to realize I was kicking my legs. My heart was beating faster than normal. Even my ears had started to sweat. That had never happened before. I was going to die in my sleep tonight.
I stood up out of bed.
I walked to the kitchen.
I drank some orange juice.
I made some toast even though I was nauseous. I ate it plain.
I went to the bathroom and rinsed my face off. I looked in the mirror and smiled. I was safe. Underneath all those light bulbs I knew I wouldn't die.
I got back in bed.
Something felt weird.
I was wearing a shirt. After I fell asleep the collar would get too tight around my neck and I wouldn't be able to breathe. I would go unconscious and die.
I took the shirt off. I was going to be okay. I fell asleep for four hours. When I woke up I was paralyzed again. This time someone was sitting on my chest. His face was in shadows and he leaned in close. My first thought was "he's dressed like a Jehovah's witness." Then, "why can't I move." I cried inside of my brain until I felt my eyes start to leak. He backed off and I felt my toes move. When I sat up he was gone.
I looked down at my chest, amazed it had held something so heavy. I rubbed my stomach. It too had been good to me. My belly button was red, like something had been pressing against it. Maybe an ear. I was afraid he had heard me sob. If I ever saw him again I would kill him. With a stapler. It would take 20 minutes and I would be too exhausted to throw up. Just like in my dreams.