JANICE CUEVAS - BREATHE
Janice Cuevas is a retired veteran who moved to Orlando, Florida from Watertown, New York. Janice is currently studying Creative Writing at Full Sail University.
Elena awoke and cringed at the thought of spiders crawling out of her mouth. She lifted herself out of bed to brush her teeth, the dream had been too vivid. As she glanced at her reflection she could see the wrinkles manifesting, the bags under her eyes darkening each day, and her long curls with a few grey strands here and there. Forty-five years old and she still felt vibrant. Elena fluffed her pillow a few times and found a comfortable position. She suddenly missed the company of a man, the safeguard a man’s muscular arms could provide. Her eyelids fell and her mind drifted into darkness.
“Mom, wake up!” Elena’s eyes slowly opened and she spoke softly. “What is it Emily? Why are you not in bed asleep?”
“There are spiders all over my room Mom.” Elena, shocked to hear this, got out of bed and grabbed the Seventeen magazine on her nightstand, rolled it up and continued to her daughter’s bedroom. Emily took hold of her mother’s hand with the grip of a newborn. Elena turned on the light, scanned the room and immediately noticed the orb weaving spider on Emily’s pink plush carpet. It was staring at her.
Shit. Seventeen magazine won’t cut it.
Elena approached the spider and before she could get too close, the spider jumped and landed on Emily’s comforter. Elena’s heart raced and bullets of sweat started to form on her forehead.
“Mom, are you OK?”
“Emily, go to the kitchen and get the chemicals I use to clean. Oh, and get that spray that smells like lemon. Spiders don’t like that.”
“Are you going to kill it?”
“Emily, go, kitchen, now please.”
Elena watched Emily saunter into the kitchen and heard her rummaging through the cabinets. While Emily was getting the supplies, Elena walked back to her room and her face fell. There were at least twenty spiders on her bed and ten more on the floor, all staring at her with their beady eyes. They had weaved webs over her bed, Elena’s heart was beating like a drum and she could not calm herself.
“Here are the supplies, Mom.” Elena turned and looked at Emily and almost fainted. Emily was covered in spiders. She didn’t shake or cry and she looked rather calm. Some were tangled up in her curls, a few were creeping up Emily’s arm and Emily started to laugh.
What the fuck is happening?
“Look, Mom, they tickle. Maybe they just wanted to be my friend.” Elena was not amused by this. As Elena bent down to pick up the chemicals, she felt the soft prickles on her legs and a chill went up her spine. She ran into the kitchen and started to shake feverishly. Her hands trembled and she tried to remain calm but her nerves were out of control. Elena tried to remember the phrase her mother taught her as a child. Breathe in and breathe out, they sense fear.
Elena caught a glimpse of the black leather book on top of a pile of newspapers next to the recliner. Legend of the Arachnid Fortune. She picked up the book opened the first page. The book began to levitate and hundreds of spiders started to pour out of its pages, filling her home. Elena’s heart wasn’t strong enough and the floor had never felt so hard.
“Mom, wake up, that was a long nap. I want spaghetti and the meatballs too.” Elena jumped out of bed and her eyes searched the room. “Where are all the spiders? Emily, are you OK? You were covered with them.”
“Mom, what spiders? Did you have that dream again?”
“Yes, I had that dream again sweetie. I— I don’t know why I keep having it.”
“Maybe you should call Aunti Nita.”
“Aunt Anita? I don’t want to bother her sweetie.” Emily looked up at Elena and muttered something under her breath. “She told me she sees things.”
“Say that again, Emily.”
“Aunti Nita, said she can see things.” Elena wore a puzzled look on her face. She dismissed the comment and accompanied Emily to the Kitchen to make her spaghetti. Elena popped open a can of Chef Boyardee and placed it in the pot on the stove.
“Mom, the door.”
“I’ll get it, Emily.”
Elena walked under the arch and unlocked the door only to find a shoe sized box with no return address. She opened it and dropped the box immediately for the box was brimful with spiders. The spiders scurried away unveiling an envelope at the bottom which read:
Spiders mean you prosper sis.
Elena was overwhelmed with the dreams and the note, so she sent her daughter to her room for the remainder of the evening. She retired to her bedroom to get some type of beauty sleep. Upon awaking the next morning, she received a notification on her cell. Her bank account had been overflowing with an abundance of retirement money. It was enough for her to never work, support Emily through college and get a new house.
Elena felt the need to get on her knees and say thank you to the anonymous forces at work. Emily entered the bedroom, kneeled beside Elena and whispered in her ear. “Mom, there are spiders all over my room.” Elena sighed and smiled wide. “Breathe in and breathe out, they sense fear.”
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