Shoulder

I am walking along a deserted street. It is daytime and inside the houses, dogs whine, expectant; the driveways empty of cars that instead are offhandedly whiling away dollars in dirty parking lots. The autumn wind blows beneath an overcast sky and the remaining leaves rustle like bones turning to dust in drafty mausoleums. I think that you are following me.

Footsteps plod along behind me to the rhythm of my own and your icy stare crawls up my spine like an eight-legged ghoul. I increase my speed, unwilling to look over my shoulder. To envision you there is horror enough: to see you there will turn me to mortar.

In my dreams I am unable to run fast enough and I awake with a film of cold sweat coating my skin. I turn and see the silhouette of your shoulder under the covers in the bed beside me, framed by moonlight and I awake yet again, relieved to find I am alone.

But now I am sure. I feel static in the air as your hand reaches out. Your dry palm scratches against the fabric on the shoulder of my coat. I crumble, screaming, screaming at the top of my lungs. I awake.

I glance at the dog. He whines, expectant.

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