Dry mouth

The cottony feeling in Erin’s mouth made her short, upturned nose itch. She sat up in her bed, pushing the pink and brown comforter off of herself. Her long legs swung over the edge of the bed, her toes stretching for the thick-piled chocolate carpet beneath her.

A cough worked its way through her throat, emerging as a rasping, scratchy sudden eruption. The girl shook her head and tried to clear her throat, but the cottony feeling persisted.

Mentally shrugging, Erin hopped from her perch and strolled toward the bathroom. She flipped the switch beside the bathroom door and warm yellow light washed into the small room. Long legs made short work of the distance to the white porcelain sink.

Erin twisted the swan-head handle to turn on a gush of cold water. She pulled her blue and white toothbrush from the holder beside the sink and held it carefully while she opened the small tube of cinnamon flavored toothpaste. Erin smeared an eraser sized glob of the pink paste on the bristles of the brush then again carefully held the brush while she twisted the cap back onto the tube.

The sharp, hot flavor of the toothpaste startled the girl, as it always did, but after the first taste, her mouth remembered the feeling and she began her routine, alternately brushing vigorously then gently. She paid careful attention to her tongue and the roof of her mouth, hoping to brush out the sensation of a mouthful of scratchy cloth.

Leaning forward, Erin spat a foamy mouthful of water, spit and toothpaste into the sink. Movement in the bowl stayed her hand. She peered closer, her hand clutching her toothbrush tightly.

But she saw nothing out of the ordinary, so she continued with her brushing. Again, the alternating rhythms, then the spitting. This time, she was sure she saw movement in the pale pink foam. Looking closer, her brushing forgotten, she saw several small black spots, moving sporadically in the sea of ejected liquid.

Horrified, the girl pulled away. She looked at her reflection in the mirror, as if to ask herself if she really saw what she thought she saw. In the mirror, Erin saw a thin strand of something falling from her partially open mouth. Her toothbrush fell forgotten from her hand as she put both hands up to her mouth. She grasped the strand of foamy thread and pulled. She gagged as the  strand emerged from her throat into her mouth.

As she pulled, more and more frantic and horrified, she saw several more of the black spots, moving up and down the strand. Finally, after several moments of pulling and tugging, a pebble-sized, oval-shaped off-white object emerged from her mouth.

Erin dropped the object into the sink, disgusted and heaving. The force of the landing caused the object to break partially open and out poured multitudes of tiny black spots, all running on multiple legs.

The girl shoved herself away from the sink, stumbling across the bathroom floor to the perceived safety of her bedroom. She huddled on her bed, covered in her fluffy pink and brown comforter, staring at her bathroom door.

When her roommate found her, Erin was a gibbering mess, pointing to the bathroom and muttering nonsense about parasitic spiders.


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