By Meg Sorick
The pain started in my thumbs. It was an itching, tingling sensation at first. I rolled over and shook my hands, thinking I’d just been sleeping too long in the same position. The pain only grew worse. I lay staring at the ceiling for a time, willing the sensation to cease. It spread from my thumbs to my wrists and back down into my other fingers. Both hands were now fully engulfed in white, hot pain.
I slipped quietly from bed so as not to disturb Henry. He was never pleasant when awoken in the middle of the night. In the bathroom, I elbowed the light on to protect my tortured hands.
I screamed. The light intensified the pain tenfold. My wedding ring dropped to the floor and I screamed again.
“For god’s sake, Molly, what’s all the racket?” Henry called irritably from the bedroom.
I couldn’t speak, couldn’t put into words what I was seeing. “Come, quick!” I finally managed. “I’m dissolving!”
It was true. My fingers and wrists and forearms had disappeared. The only way I could think to describe it was as static —the kind of static an old analogue television signal produced when it wasn’t tuned in tightly to the channel. The static was steadily snaking its way to my shoulders and dissolving my flesh and bones as it climbed.
With a heavy sigh, Henry leaned against the door jamb of the bathroom. “Molly, your being hysterical.”
“Look at me!” I cried.
Henry frowned. “What?”
“Don’t you see it? Can’t you see that I’m disappearing before your very eyes?”
He sighed again. He bent over and picked up my wedding band. “Look, you’ve dropped your ring.” He held it out to me.
“Henry!” I wailed in bitter frustration.
He set it on the bathroom vanity. “Fine. I’ll leave you to your histrionics, Molly. Come back to bed the you’re over it.”
I sank to my knees sobbing. The static had dissolved my shoulders, spread to the top of my chest and breathing was becoming difficult. I drew in a deep breath as one final burst of static consumed all of my body below my throat. The sensation of being a disembodied head was wildly disorienting. It lasted but a moment as gravity engaged and I fell face first to the floor.
I sat upright, heart pounding, breath ragged. A dream, only a dream. I pushed my hair off my face and swung my legs over the side of the bed. Elbows on knees, I willed my breathing to slow. Better.
The dream mustn’t have disturbed Henry because he went about his business as usual in the morning. Fixing his coffee —he didn’t like the way I made it, toasting bread and spreading copious amounts of orange marmalade —I wasn’t generous enough to suit his liking. And he had nothing to say about it during breakfast. He nibbled the toast and sipped his coffee and ignored me like he did every morning. I sat quietly across from him, still rattled by the events of the night.
The phone rang and he reached for it absently. “Hello?”
Someone on the other end spoke.
“Molly? No, sorry, she’s not here. Haven’t seen her all morning, in fact.”