“What do you want now?” she screamed in the weird hours of the morning.

She was inexplicably awake and it was still dark outside. The big, hairy spider — almost the width of her bed — loomed over her on the bedroom ceiling.

It spoke to her telepathically, in a British accent, which sounded fake to her for some reason.

“I want you,” the Spider spoke, “to remember every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done since fifth grade.”

“Well, that’s stupid. I’M NOT DOING THAT”, she screamed at the Spider, telepathically, of course. She didn’t want to wake up her young son sleeping down the hall.

“Oh come on, it will be fun,” said the Spider. “I know. Let’s make a game of it. Who do you miss the most? Right now? Don’t even think about it, who’s the first person to pop into your mind? That guy from the train?” The creepy mandibles on the Spider’s face flicked with unbridled glee.

“No one,” she stretched out defiantly. “I like having the bed to myself. Your questions are boring. I have a big day planned, so go away so I can sleep.”

“Remember when you stretched like that in yoga class and you farted? That was embarrassing,” continued the Spider.

“I’m turning on the lights,” she announced. She got out of bed and the room was SO frosty. But she was determined. “Then I’m going to the bathroom, and then I’m getting a frozen cake dessert from the fridge, and you’re going to get lost, and I’m going back to sleep.”

“You sure you want to do that? You’ll wake up the little one.”

The Spider was right. Any sound or movement whatsoever would wake up the young boy — for he too, was telepathic. 

She was trapped. The only way out, was under. She dove back under the sheets, like she used to do when she was seven. She pretended she was a mermaid, swimming deep beneath a mysteriously warm, dark ocean.

“Didn’t you say you had to go to the bathroom?” The Spider descended a little bit on his web from the ceiling, in case she couldn’t hear him. 

She sighed. He had ruined her swim. Now her stomach grumbled, thinking of the cake in her fridge, sealed in a plastic dome that smooshed down on the icing it swore to protect. Betrayal. She was like that icing now, pressed under the weight of the blankets and sheets, melting and sweating while freedom taunted her on the other side… but at what cost?

“MAMAAAAA” called out a little voice, from far away. At first she thought she was dreaming it. Was it another telepathic voice echoing inside her head, like the Spider’s? But no, it was indeed a real boy’s voice, from down the hallway.

She peered out from the sheets and blinked in the early morning light seeping through the blinds. The Spider was gone, and the ceiling fan was once again just a ceiling fan, same as it was every morning.

She awkwardly stumbled down the hall and cracked open her son’s bedroom door. “What happened?” 

“I had a bad dream,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

“Oh, really? Me too.” She went over to pick him up and he wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “Do you want cake?” she asked.

“It’s not too early?” he asked cautiously, so as not to change her mind.

“No one tells us what to do.”

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