Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Face in the Darkness

She had gotten up in the middle of the night, stumbling her familiar way around the bed, past her sleeping husband, and arriving at the door to the hall and the bathroom just beyond. It was the sort of middle-of-the-night trip she knew to expect if she drank a little too much water too late in the evening. She didn't even think about it anymore: she woke up, went to the bathroom, and went back to bed.

Unfortunately, she had spent the previous afternoon watching paranormal reality shows that she had recorded beforehand, so making this nocturnal trip also involved keeping her thoughts focused on anything besides the dark and the shadows that turned her home into an alien and fearsome place. And she succeeded. Or so she thought.

As she was groping her way around the bed, literally feeling with one outstretched hand because the corners of the platform bed were sharp and merciless to unsuspecting knees, she glanced at the two framed pictures that graced the tall dresser to her left. During the day, she knew one picture showed her beloved oldest grandson as a newborn. The other was a dusty portrait of herself that had once held sway in her husband's office. 

And during that glance, that one quick look at those framed pictures, her eyes now adjusted to the dim light from the moon and the occasional street light that slipped between the slats of her blinds, she saw...a face. Not her own. Oh, she saw herself as clearly as possible in that midnight gloom, reflected back in the glass of the picture frame. But she also saw - a man's face, smiling at her over her shoulder, his cheek so close to hers that it would mean...

She didn't want to think about what it would mean. She dove into the bed and pulled the covers up snug, reassuring herself that her husband was beside her, refusing to open her eyes and take another look.

The man's face had been so close to hers that he would have had to have been right next to her, to be seen in that reflection. He would have nearly been cheek to cheek with her. And that smile on his face: she couldn't decide if it was friendly or leering.


This happened to me late last year and I have never written about it until now. It still gives me the shivers. I have no idea who he was. I just know that I saw him. The next morning, I moved the framed photos on the tall dresser so that they would no longer reflect me when I made any nocturnal foray. They would not reflect me, or anyone else right beside me in the dark.

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