While water rained on the empty tub, David studied his eyes in the misty mirror. They were fine. They were familiar. He reached into the small closet to the left of the sink and removed a towel. When he glanced back at the mirror, he saw a spider reflected on the opposite wall. He twisted around.
Exaggerated and dreamlike, the spider moved up the gray tiles of the shower stall. It was sliding in slow motion and David began to feel that they were both captured in invisible molasses. Time ran at one second to every three ticks of the clock. As he watched it, David at once felt an urgency to rid the clean, smooth tiles of the spider. It slowly climbed across white valleys between gray plateaus like car tires crossing illuminated lines on a black night. David was transfixed. He could not move to kill it.
Suddenly, David became aware of the room. His sense began to reverberate with the urgent hum of the toilet, the piercing squeak of the floor, and the resounding whisper of the spider’s phantasmal legs sliding up the tiles. The sound of water drops falling in the sink pounded in his ears. To David, the dripping faucet was a cannon blasting fluidic dream-bombs. He pressed his palms to his ears to muffle the sounds—the water, the humming florescent light, the air moving through the room.
The spider, unmoved by the paralysis it provoked, tilted its shiny body and eyes toward David’s hand, as if sensing the potential of his fist to smash its gross existence from the wall and from his mind. David slowly raised his hand, intent now on killing the spider. Time was suspended—in the darkness of hesitation, a flicker of light caressed flesh. The spider shattered in silent explosion. Polished pieces of the spider’s body floated to the floor, winking in their descent. The spider, David realized, had been made of glass. Falling to his knees, he tried to sweep the fragments of glass into a cupped hand. He cut himself. The blood was welling into a red droplet when his mother knocked on the door.
He opened the door and stepped out. Looking down, he saw that his hand was not bleeding. His soft palm was not cut. The spot of blood on his jeans was gone. His mother was staring. She glanced into the bathroom behind him. The shower was running, but he was clothed and he was not wet. Following her gaze, David found that the bathroom was in its usual condition. The hand towels needed to be laundered, there was soap scum on the sides of the tub, he was out of bathroom cups—but there was no glass on the floor. There was no spider on the wall. The running water sounded as it should.
[Could I have been dreaming?]