While You Were Sleep­ing

Scout - - NON-FICTION - By Denise Fer­nan­dez

My Satur­day morn­ings are usu­ally pretty great. I stay in bed un­til noon and get to worry about noth­ing at all for even just a lit­tle while. My en­tire fam­ily nor­mally has break­fast in the din­ing room with­out me—they know I’d rather sleep in by my­self than get up at an un­godly hour for food.

Ev­ery­thing had been seem­ingly nor­mal. I was drift­ing in and out of consciousness when I heard my rel­a­tives go down­stairs for their usual break­fast. I laid on my side as I con­tin­ued to sleep. That was when my en­tire body froze. I rst heard about sleep paral­y­sis when I was in col­lege. My friends would talk about an un­seen force press­ing on their chests, some­times so heavy that they’d stop breath­ing. Oth­ers would tell me of see­ing shad­ows in their bed­rooms, il­lu­sions of an old hag creep­ing on top of them. I had never ex­pe­ri­enced it my­self, and thought I never would, un­til that one Satur­day morn­ing.

I knew when I woke up that that was it. I was nally get­ting my own episode of sleep paral­y­sis. I was awake, but dared not open my eyes for fear of the mon­sters I would pos­si­bly see. I kept still, un­able to move any part of my body, hop­ing that this was the worst it could get and that con­trol over my­self would come back soon.

She spoke to me while I des­per­ately tried to wait it out as calmly as I could. “Wake up, my dar­ling.” De­spite her words, her tone was far from com­fort­ing. The whis­per felt like it came from a pres­ence be­hind me, a warm breath mur­mur­ing into my right ear. The voice sounded sim­i­lar to a fu­sion of a ban­shee and a dy­ing an­i­mal. What­ever it was, it wasn’t hu­man. Wake up, my dar­ling. It was a chal­lenge. She was dar­ing me, be­cause she knew I couldn’t.

I screamed as I tried to break away from my paral­y­sis. Run­ning down the stairs, I set­tled into the din­ing ta­ble and had break­fast for the rst Satur­day in a long time, my hands still trem­bling. No one in my fam­ily knew what just hap­pened.

Sleep paral­y­sis af­fects around 63 per­cent of the en­tire hu­man pop­u­la­tion. They say that the more you’re aware of the con­di­tion, the more you read or watch ma­te­rial about it, the more likely you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence it your­self. When you do, don’t open your eyes.

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