As I woke one morning from uneasy dreams I discovered a cricket nibbling on my limp left hand. No blood had been drawn, but a fiery line of ruptured skin ran from mid-palm to my middle finger, where the cricket continued.
For a few minutes, as my senses struggled to free themselves from the residue of dreams, I watched the cricket in my hand. Tiny black mandibles sharp as needles worked the skin of my palm. Where did it come from, and how long had it been here? Was the insect real or the fruit of my imagination? Faint sunbeams dancing on the cricket’s black exoskeleton told me that yes, it had form; the trail of bite-marks across my hand looked too red and raw to be a mirage. But why then could I not feel pain from the wound?
My fingers closed around the cricket, trapping it in the darkness of my hand.
I slowly slid off my lofted bed and put the cricket in a paper cup. Donning my day-clothes and a long coat, I planned to release the insect into nature. But in an all-too-familiar sight, the cricket went into convulsions and was dead by the time I placed it on the earth.
The last thing I’d done before drifting off to sleep last night was peel an orange.
I continued on to the Union building with my head down and hands in my coat pockets, my senses dulled by a new and different kind of pain.