Here’s a snippet from the novel . . .
Debbi plopped her head back onto her pillow and resumed staring into the night, which seemed to be closing in on her like a stalking predator. She’d always liked sleeping in pitch darkness, but at this moment, the room was filling with a nebulous dread, and a tingling feeling of doom crept up her neck.
“Oh, come on,” she told herself under her breath, “just close your eyes and get to sleep.”
She felt like a little girl, squeezing her eyes shut and clutching her blanket tight around her neck. As if the Boogie Man were out to get her.
She tried to hum a cheery song, but the dread grew palpable, making her skin crawl.
Suddenly, she started trembling, a bright, sharp panic pouncing on her chest and pressing her into the bed.
She stifled a cry as invisible hands clenched her ribs and squeezed. Sucking in shallow breaths, Debbi was sure she was having a heart attack. She tried to swallow but felt as if she was choking on her saliva, which made her panic even more.
“I . . . I can’t breathe . . .” she eked out, swinging her arm wildly, trying to find Jerry to wake him.
She landed a smack on his shoulder. He grumbled.
“Wha . . . what is it?” he muttered, writhing like a sloth under the bedcovers.
Debbi couldn’t speak. Her mouth hung open as electrical currents jolted through her limbs. The room spun. She sucked in air as if through a tiny straw.
“Please . . . help . . .” She was dying. Dead at forty-seven. She’d never get to see Chelsea walk down the aisle as a bride. Never get to hold her grandchildren . . .
Jerry made a grunting noise, then turned back onto his side, facing away from her. Within five seconds he was snoring again. How could he sleep at a time like this? How dare he?
Debbi threw off the covers and leapt out of the bed. She ran into the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face, panting hard, heart racing. The dread was still there, in the bedroom, waiting for her, so she shut and locked the bathroom door. She was going to die. And Jerry was going to sleep through it all and find her cold dead body sprawled on the bathroom floor in the morning.
Just breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Water dripped from her face as she stared at herself in the mirror, the little square nightlight next to the electric toothbrush casting a sickly green glow onto her skin. The cold tile floor stung her bare feet. She looked horrible, like some creature from the deep. She concentrated on her breath, remembering all those years she’d taken yoga. In for eight counts. Hold the breath, then out for eight.
The bite of panic lessened into a lull of unease. Her heart stopped racing, and the crushing weight on her chest disappeared. She felt stupid standing there. Panic attacks—one of the thirty-five menopause symptoms. Was that what she just experienced? She could put a checkmark next to that one. Along with the hot flashes and tingling extremities and sudden rage and insomnia. Another thirty-one symptoms to go. Are we having fun yet?
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