The hallway is dark except for a sliver of light from my open doorway. As I put down my foot, I feel something under my arch. Two thoughts simultaneously rush into my head: It’s a cockroach! and It’s probably not a cockroach. I choose to focus on the latter thought and keep walking. At the end of the hallway, I glance back to see what I assume is a bit of paper or plastic. Instead, I see a dark form scurrying toward the wall. My scream catches in my throat—for once, I won’t wake Heidi up—and I stagger into the kitchen, clutching my water bottle that I have inexplicably brought with me.
I stand by the refrigerator for a full twenty seconds, feeling my heartbeat pound in my chest and trying not to hyperventilate. You’re okay. I tell myself, drawing a deep breath. But it’s still out there! the panicked part of me responds. I have to go back! I suppress a shudder and force myself to fill my bottle. You can do this. You didn’t even scream. Staci would be so impressed. I take a swig of water and brace myself against the counter. And then I walk toward the hallway.
I bite my lip hard as I turn on the light. Nothing moves. I glance toward where I saw the shape disappear and my heart jumps. A shadow obscures the corner, but something is there. It is small, though, and this gives me courage to take another step forward. As I tentatively approach, I see that it is light brown, striped, and eight-legged. A spider. All of my muscles relax and I break into an involuntary grin. I blow on the spider to be sure I haven’t squashed him and he scurries down the hall into the blackness. I heave a sigh of relief as I watch him disappear. I am safe--for tonight, at least.