At first it feels like a breeze. My feet have slipped out from under the blanket. Too hot to be covered. The air brushes against my toes and the balls of my feet. It touches the middle of my foot and wisps off my heel. It’s cold, but the rest of me is too warm, and in my sleepy fog I only wiggle my toes at the surprising chill.

I remember being afraid of the dark when I was little. Terrified of the shadows that sat in my room, but more terrified — and convinced — that something in those shadows moved. My mind was always over-imaginative and I swore I could see things. Little things, in the shadows.

I would cuddle up under the covers, my feet and hands tucked in around me, too scared to leave the safety of my bed. It was my lifeboat in a sea of night.

There was a monster, a little one (they were always little because little things avoid attention), and it lived under my bed, as all childhood monsters do.

But this monster was different.

He didn’t just wait until it was dark to come out and scare you. He waited until you were asleep. Until your feet got too hot and splayed out from under the covers. And he would wrap the cold air around your feet like a refreshing breeze. And you would put your little toes over the edge of the bed, because it felt so nice to feel the chill.

At first, it feels like a breeze. It touches the middle of my foot and wisps off my heel.

And then the breeze becomes more solid. It is a heaviness, a shadow on my foot. Still cool, but with no air flowing through it — a stagnant settling of air. The shadow runs its fingers across the top of my toes, tickling them. But the cold feels good.

It travels up my foot, washing it in cold air. It stops at my ankle.

The hand is heavy and solid. And it’s pulling me under, taking me with it. Pulling me into the shadows and into the deep sea of night.

Turns out I was right about my lifeboat, after all.

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