I woke up with an unusually lazy start. I had realized that I failed to complete my sleep cycle, and that I had been jarred awake from a deep state of sleep. The night passed dreamlessly, which is surprising, because, taking the medications I do, my nights are almost always punctuated with vivid strobes of nonsense and uproar. For a moment, I contemplated returning to sleep to complete the cycle, but I knew that Id never get to school on time. It was a nice thought to romanticize, though. My feet had fallen asleep and the sensation of pins and needles was somewhat pronounced. Looking to the hallway, I could see the rosy glow from the bathroom lights spilling beneath the door onto the cherry-laminated floor. The monotonous staccato of a running shower completed my mental picture. My mother bathed in the morning, an endeavor I could never endure in such frigid weather. I slipped on a beater, and a shirt over it, both were black cotton, which is a magnet to the dog hair that fills my house. They felt tight, like I was wearing a shirt a half size too small. I let it slide as just another odd mystery of my confused morning. My pants came on, my glasses, and I took a hair tie from my nightstand, only to see I had slept with one on my wrist, though it had worked its way down to the middle of my forearm through the night. The tie was too tight, which discolored my skin to a sickly white. I battled my skin and the completely spent elasticity of the tie to slip it off my arm, and in the process, I felt the chill of my newly gray hand. I was briefly curious, but I shrugged it off as a symptom of a lack of circulation.
The snow was smothering the sky. The solstice was not too long ago, so the mornings were a dense, impenetrable black. Four of our seven dogs were playing in the snow. The frost had built up on the glass, disabling my field of vision. I took a fresh bowl from the cupboard, and poured a bowl of cereal. The cereal had little dried up strawberries mixed in with the blend of corn flakes. I tore the plastic blue ring around the lid of the milk, and filled the bowl. I could feel the cold milk as it fell into my stomach. As I ate, I watched the snow coming down. The streets had vanished beneath the oppressive blanket of precipitation. I briefly wondered how miserable Id be shoveling the car from the driveway. The muffled sound of running water and the rigidly blasting wind filled my ears, along with the sounds of my teeth grinding the cereal. My thoughts wandered off to indescribable haziness, but came quickly back to my head when I detected a slight tingling on my lips. Almost as if they were going numb, but from an anesthetic, not from any natural causes. My tongue got in on the action as well, leading me to unknowingly bite the tip of it, which squeezed a tear from my crusted eyes. I walked up the stairs and stood by the door to the bathroom. My mother was out of the shower, so I began a conversation. You try this cereal? I spoke with another mouthful of the beige flakes in my mouth. After a pause that could be attributed to her application of mascara, she responded.
Hmm? With the strawberries. What about it? Is it good to eat? Its making my mouth tingly. I havent had any, but its fresh. Alright. Maybe Im nuts. Probably.
I carefully examined my successive spoonfuls, avoiding the strawberries, which I had decided were the culprits to numbing feeling. My feet were still asleep, and the hand that was being strangulated by the tie was still puffy. I felt sick, but I tried to ignore it and be a man. I went back downstairs, and stared out a different window. My head was heavy with wooziness, I felt like I was being pulled under by the bags beneath my eyes. My right arm felt dead. My bowl dropped from my grip and clonked against the floor, spilling the meager remnants of cereal. The sound could barely nudge me from my dizzy trance, just enough for me to exclaim: Phfluck!
This statement caused me more stress than the bowl did. My fingertips were numb, but I summoned my strength to bring them to my mouth, which had also lost its sense of touch. I could detect that my lips and tongue had become inflamed, large and very parched. My thumb could barely trace the chips of shedding skin across my bottom lip. I stumbled to the mirror to find a terrifying sight. My mouth and neck had expanded beyond human proportions. My lips had grown white in color; my cheeks were fat and dusty. The bags beneath my eyes were puffy and beginning to force my eyes shut. A worried murmur exited my mouth like a car horn being depressed from under several feet of dirt. I felt that my shoes hurt. Not my feet, but my shoes, like they were being stretched out, like a delusional wife trying to convince herself that she still fits in her wedding dress. I slowly seated myself and pried each shoe off; with effort Id never imagine myself applying for such a dull task. I wriggled to get my shirt and beater off, revealing the condition of what was once a bony frame. I was swelling to the point that my ribcage began to look almost barrel shaped, like the children born with deficiencies that lead to bizarre skeletal degenerations.
With slow, heaving breaths, some from fear and some from physical exhaustion, I ambled clumsily halfway up the stairs. The bathroom door was open, the light was off and the mirror was still foggy. An ambient mist was still floating in the dismal blue room. Like felt tip markers being drug across my skin, I could faintly feel beads of sweat on my now Neanderthal brow. The back of my hand struck my forehead to sweep the sweat away. My body was spilled across several steps, my legs were crooked and my arms were hung near my torso like fleshy anchors. On my hands and knees, I crawled up the stairs. I had the determination of any number of hapless victims in horror movies shambling away from their captors, but with the skill of an infant. At the landing, I rested on my back and felt the awful glaze of sweat pouring form my face, my armpits were soaked through, and the small of my back and all along my spine was dripping. I choked, and tears began to leave my eyes. I acquired a genuine fear for my life, something Id never felt before. I go to school, and try to be a man and try to one-up all my tough-guy friends, but Ive never really understood true pain or fear. I cried out for my mother.
My sense of hearing was muffled, so my call sounded like a drowning bear. I choked more and the tears came more steadily, and I called for her again. Minutes past, and I felt increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin, like I was just a sheet of flesh over an angrily boiling furnace. I rolled over to my side and I struggled to get back to my knees. My hands were fat, like sausages heated to the very verge of bursting. I motioned towards my mothers room. It was empty. The snow from outside had completely covered the windows, so the light coming in was filtered through a frozen lens. My mother wasnt on her computer, nor was she putting her socks on her feet. I hung my head to see that my drool had collected on the hardwood floor. Bits of detritus from my breakfast had come with it. With a tremendous heaving effort, I moved one hand before the other. With each time, I could feel the weight of my body push the blood of my hands up to my arms. I made my way to the bathroom, and fell against the bathtub like a tipped cow. My breath was deep and onerous, a hot rasp spit out with a scowl, like a cat thrown down a laundry chute, digging its nails into the metal sheeting in a last-ditch attempt to slow its descent. My eyes were practically swollen shut, but it was still a trial to force them completely closed. A few tears managed to wedge through these twin lids. I made an empty effort to sleep, with no success. In less than five minutes, I struggled to open my hot, blurry eyes. In the time I was feigning sleep, I thought nothing. No images, no words, no traces of sentience appeared in my mind. I could only feel my rapid heartbeat gunning away beneath the warbling thickness of my
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