Her eyes open—fast, like butterfly wings.

The green light of the alarm clock reflects off the ceiling.

3:35.

Her jaw tightens as she inhales, exhales.

She closes her eyes.

She pays attention to the darkness, watching what look like stars dance on the screen of her eyelids.

She whimpers--a slight, hairpin of a sound--as she tries to stop looking.

There are lines, now, and colors. She doesn't know what to do.

She shuts her eyes tighter. Her teeth dig each other into their gums.

She holds onto her blankets, slowing her breathing, calming…

Desperately trying not to see.

Her blankets scratch at her skin, and she itches, tensed and afraid that there are insects.

She draws into herself, curling up as tight as she can.

She listens to the rain slam against her windows.

"STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP" she screams, at her mind.

They're all around her, now. Fragments and blurred out images stitched into her eyelids, staring at her.

She won't stop screaming.

A white mask appears next to her head—outside, inside,

where?

They're crawling all over her.

She bites her lip, bringing her knees up to her forehead.

don't cry don't cry don't cry don't cry don't cry don't cry don't cry

Her breath staggers.

They wrap whispered lullabies around her.

The words brand her skin.

She almost screams aloud, but they choke the sound from her lips.

Blood runs down her leg.

Her teeth, tinted red.

She dares not open her eyes.

afraid it's real

afraid it's not

She sees flashes—hair, skin, insect wings.

She opens her mouth, gaping, as a trickle of blood runs out the corner of her stained lips, painting a smile on her face.

i'm dying

Shuddering, shivering, she lets herself cry.

She opens her eyes, water held by thick lashes.

She flicks her gaze to the clock.

She chokes on a sob.

3:38.