It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everyone is a bit crazy – especially when they only have themselves for company. Okay, when the family was out, she liked to take the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and wash them again – by hand. I mean, she wasn’t hurting anyone, now was she? It was an exercise that kept her mind calm and unworried.
What was there to worry about? After all, she had a beautiful happy family and that was as good as it gets. So why did she feel uncomfortable? As if………no, it sounded too stupid to even think about. But still the thought had come to rest in her head and wouldn’t leave, no matter how many dishes she cleaned, or how many clothes she washed: she was being watched. But by what or whom, she wasn’t clear.
As she stood looking out the kitchen window, she was sure it was standing right behind her. She could almost feel its breath on the back of her neck. It caused a shiver to run down her spine, and she felt as if it might end up inside her. She wasn’t sure what IT was, but she was sure it was in the room with her.
She ran upstairs to take a shower and yet, no matter how much she washed her body, she felt unclean and she felt, stared at.
She took a couple of pain killers and lay down on the bed. From the edge of her eye she thought that she could see it standing in the corner of the room. As if it was pleased with itself, and was just waiting for the right time. The right time for what?
She fell asleep but woke with a startle when she felt something touch her ankle. She screamed but then noticed the time. It was only 30 minutes before the boys would be back from school. This thought always made her feel more secure and in a strange way, more loved.
The days that she would spend alone in the house, always felt dark and depressing and she wondered if maybe she was starting to go back down that road – the one that the family had pulled her out of all those months ago. It wasn’t a breakdown, no matter what the doctor said or even what her husband thought. She knew she wasn’t crazy – wasn’t it just the result of watching her mother die of cancer?
The boys came running into the room which made her jump. After she had given them milk and cake, they went upstairs to play their computer games – she could hear them running on the floor above.
She thought it was David, but he hadn’t called her that name since he’d asked her to marry him. He preferred ‘Al’ or ‘Darling’ but never Alice. And now that she thought about it, she wasn’t sure if it was a man or woman’s voice or if it was a voice at all; now that did sound ridiculous.
She felt sick. The voice seemed to be calling her from in the room but from no particular location. Perhaps everyone was right, perhaps she had finally cracked down the middle.
If she told her husband any of this, he would just say what he always said: ‘grow up, Al’. That would be his total input. Grow up. She could hear his car in the drive and so she started to pour his evening drink. It was a little ritual which they both enjoyed.
By 9pm the kids were asleep, and her husband was working in the study on a presentation for the next day.
As she sat on the edge of the bed, the hand grabbed her ankle and then tightened around her leg. She was so shocked she couldn’t even scream. She tried to call on her husband in the other room, but she was struck dumb. The fingers (if that is what they were) felt cold. It tugged on her leg as if it was trying to check her out for size and weight, as if it was about to drag her away from her family. A sheer drop of loneliness inhabited her whole body. The last time she had felt this much despair was when her mother had held her hand for the last time. She had wanted to follow her mother to where she was going.
Just then her husband came in for some notes he had left by the bedside, he smiled at her, then left. When the door was closed, the fingers tightened around her ankle again.
The doors to the wardrobe started to bang a little. Not enough to attract attention from the rest of the house, but they were moving – almost vibrating. Another hand grabbed the other ankle and she felt as if she was at the end of something – a finality. She couldn’t explain it, but she had never felt more alive or more dead than now.
When it tugged both her legs at the same time, her head whipped back hard on to the bed. She noticed a spider walking across the ceiling and wished for a split second, that she was that insect.
Another tug and she banged off the bed and on to the floor. The wardrobe doors flew open – and for a second she had a stupid thought – maybe she was going to Narnia. She smiled inside, but as she looked up at what was waiting on her in there, she knew she wasn’t coming back – ever- and it wasn’t Narnia.
bobby stevenson 2017