This is the second night in a row you’ve woken at precisely 1:20. You knew before you looked at the clock. Woke from dreams of dislodged ice dams, raging frigid waters, the floating remains of porcupines, friends lost. Awoke to fear.
Awoke to a familiar fluttering. A gathering and folding of darkness in the corners like great heavy wings. Recall walking home from the house of your best friend as a child, two doors down, so much further at night. You broke into a trot when you reached the road, then a full sprint as you felt it fluttering behind your neck. there was no time to turn and look at it. Safety lay in the wedge of light on your house’s stoop, and even then you did not face it.
Yesterday, somebody in your house made note of it. Dreams have been sweaty, clenched. Your dog seemed uneasy. There is a rhythmic, undulating hum that accompanies the whoosh of the forced air, and the gnarled branches of a lone oak clatter against themselves outside.
You’re awake, in the dark, acutely aware that your dog’s water dish is dry. That feeling in your chest? Like your heart has come untethered and is caroming upwards banging ribs as though to plug and stop your breath? That is the demon, fluttering again against the nape of your neck. Stand and breath. Turn and face it.