Hard To Swallow

By DED [Email]

The world always seems a little odd. It doesn't matter who you are. It always seems odd. It seems odd in life. It seems odd in college. It seems odd in high school. At least in two of these places, odd is the order of the day. Every one feels it, and at least in that, we take some comfort.

But not everyone knows how truly strange things can get. Not everyone can see that we aren't in the normal world we would like. We call them crazy. Sometimes we call them paranoid. But unfortunately, most of the time, we completely ignore them. One person knew this better than most.

Sarah. Her name is Sarah Chase. She goes to school like a good girl. She does her homework and is nice to her parents. Yet, for Sarah, that wasn't enough. Life would still exact its bizarre toll on her.

Sarah could always feel it at night. How sadly cliche, she used to think. The Boogey man comes for me at night. But when she lay in her bed, surrounded by the dark, and buried beneath every blanket she could muster, she didn't think it cliche. It wasn't the wolves that lived under her blankets when she was a small child. It wasn't the beasts that scraped and clawed at the walls when she was ten. She was almost an adult. This time her terrors were almost real.

They eluded description and comprehension. They were inside her and outside at the same time. Who would she tell of these... these wraiths? These shades and glimpses that sat just outside her sight yet crawled all over her skin and made her quiver with cold fear.

The best she could put to words was not what she could ever tell anyone. What would she tell them? Would she tell them about how she would cower under six inches of blankets in the dead of summer? Would she tell them that she could still feel the thick woolen pajamas being torn away. That she could feel the test of teeth against her flesh? Or maybe she should tell how she can feel her legs being enveloped, and how it felt like she was wrapped in a steaming cloth? How something that must surely be a tongue, feels its way along her thighs. And just when it reaches the thin cotton - it stops. Or better yet, she should tell how each night after this happens, she cries herself to sleep.

It didn't matter where she slept. It wasn't bound by the limits of her mattress and sheet. Somehow, it found her whereever she may be.

Sarah would spend her days at the beach. It was small and the sand was full of gravel that poked her bare soles, and rocks to ugly to keep and not the right shape to skim along the water. But it didn't matter. It was the only place that made her feel right. She would stare at the waters for hours. She watched the small waves slap against the sand, and then they left. It was simple and undisturbed. Though finally, she was always forced home by the massive numbers of night-time bugs. Each one nibbling a little at her skin.

Still more hours had to be spent before she could fight sleep no longer. She would crawl back into that bed. That bed that had become something of a personal revulsion for the young lady.

Her mother had taken the heavy blankets. Fresh billowy sheets rested on the large mattress. The thick pajamas had been removed as well. Her mother had threatened to take them for weeks. There were some nights Sarah would pass out from the heat of the blankets and pajamas. But they were her only protection.

She laughed out loud. Protection! What a child she was. She had built up a stupid and irrational fear in her head, and had let it grow to disturbing proportions. Standing and looking at the light sheets and feeling the heat of the summer night, she could only find what she had done for so long, completely ridiculous. How, she wondered, could I have ever used those silly wool blankets and clothes? She felt tired from the exertion of the game she had been playing all those months. She shook her head in disbelief and made her way to her bathroom. Sarah peeled off her shirt and shorts. She left her panties on the floor and threw her bra by the clothes hamper. She turned on her shower and waited for the water to reach a comfortable temperature.

When had she ever allowed it to get that far? She wondered. She was still feeling quite the child when she dried off. Sixteen years old and she still thought the monsters under the bed were after her. With her hair still damp, she crawled into bed. The thin, singular sheet felt like milk against her bare body. It felt good to let herself be so vulnerable for a change. She smiled and let her naked limbs take full advantage of the wide bed. It was so nice, and her sudden revelations so liberating, that she didn't hear something. It was the little part of her mind that had helped her all the time before. It was the little part of her mind that was screaming at her now. It was screaming at her to stop what she was doing. It was screaming so loud that Sarah couldn't hear any of it.

She had begun to drift into the comfort of the first sleep in a long while that was not fret with anxiety and gut churning fear. She rather enjoyed the air of the humming fan blades on the sheet. She liked when her bare belly pressed cool against the mattress. And when the sheet began to gently slide from her shoulders down her naked back, she smiled and let out a lazy sigh. The sheet continued down her damp skin and as it passed, the breeze of the open window and the fan cooled the sweat on her skin. She gave a tiny giggle when the sheet exposed her buttocks and thighs.

Sarah rolled over and sat up. Sweat pooled in the tight creases of her flat belly. She realized something blocked the fan. Her eyes poked through the dark and found shapes. Another moment and they found depth and line. And what she saw was, impossibly, herself. But then, it was not she. It was just a young woman. It had a body like Sarah's. It had the same honey tanned skin like Sarah's. The tangled blond hair - streaked and twisted from the sun and wind, kissed the shoulders like Sarah's. The small breasts and slim body were Sarah's. But in her face, which had the same soft lips and smooth skin, something was wrong.

It was the eyes. Despite everything else, it was the eyes. They were not her. There was no innocence. There was nothing of her freedom, or of her life.

She didn't see her childhood in those eyes. She didn't see the memory of going to the ocean for the first time. She couldn't see the times she gleefully ate ice cream until it made her head hurt. She couldn't see anything. Then, pushing deeper into the Other's eyes, she saw something. She saw the end. She saw the end of all that she saw in her own eyes. And she saw beginnings. She saw anxious days, and pain. She saw pain for things not done. She saw regret. Shadow all of it. But as certain as the dripping ice cream and beautiful crashing waves of the ocean she knew were in her eyes.

Now she heard that little part of her mind. It was what was telling her what the Other's eyes held. It was what wailed and cried once she could hear it.

"You shouldn't feel bad," she heard the Other say. It was her soft voice. But even that was different. The child was gone. Sarah watched, as the Other's bare legs were placed one, then the other, up on the bed.

"You held out a very long time." The Other leaned forward and let her arms catch her. She held her body a mere breath away from Sarah's own. Sarah's mind was still yelling but it was to far gone to fix anything now. The Other lowered her head and let her lips glide across Sarah's throat. The sun-streaked hair grazed Sarah's breasts and she closed her eyes and held her breath. The Other moved along her neck to her collarbone, and then stopped at Sarah's shoulder.

Sarah's heart was thundering in her chest. Her breath came only in small weak passsings. The Other leaned over even more. All four limbs were straddling Sarah's prone body. The Other's lips pulled back and Sarah felt teeth press into the tender meat of her arm.

The Other slinked back and took Sarah's feet in her hands. Hands just like those which trembled at Sarah's side. Each toe was tenderly nipped at and then they went in. Right up to the bottoms of Sarah's smooth calf muscles.

The Other closed her eyes and pulled more of the supple legs in. Sarah just let it happen. She had fought it for so long she didn't have the strength to fight it anymore.

She could barely feel it as her thighs were wrapped in the warmth and wet of the Other's mouth and throat. She cried softly at the absurdity of how it tickled when the Other's fingers cradled her rounded cheeks, as she was now waist deep into the Other's mouth. The throbbing muscles of the Other's throat were light on the Sarah's stomach, as she was swallowed more and more. There were moments where like a drowning swimmer, she spasmed and tried to escape what was impossible to escape. But they were brief.

She went past the mouth and marveled at the dark, and was aghast at the end of what she had been. Of what she was. What was out there would always be the Other. It would never be the little girl again. It would never be the same as she was. Whatever else it may think, it was not she.

She felt the warm cheeks and lips of the Other as her fingers were slowly passed into the gaping mouth, and when finally she lay crumpled together; the walls of the Other's stomach, chest and throat tightening their hold on her body, her legs pressed tight to her abdomen, and her head nestled firm to her beating heart, she screamed.

The Other lay heaving on the floor. She touched briefly the life and existence that she now devoured and found it simple and lacking. Her once smooth belly moved and tested its limits.

The Other felt it in her chest. She felt the small fingers straining and twitching in her throat. But soon, she felt it slow. Then finally, it stopped. And as the flesh moved over the hours from the bloated mound it was back to the flat delicately lined stomach it should be, she felt her breath come back. Her throat opened up again, and in great swallows of air, she left behind everything she had just consumed. When she could sit up, she felt the final bit of the life she swallowed disappear with a single tear that dried alone on her cheek.


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