Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: EERIE (07/28/16)
TITLE: Watching Me
By Yvonne Blake
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I pause as I close the door. At my feet lies a wilted rose—not a store bought one, for its stem is short and ragged, as if someone had torn it from the bush. Yesterday it was a black-eyed Susan. I glance around to catch, perhaps, some eyes peeking to see my reaction to their gift. No one. I tug at the doorknob again to make sure the latch is shut. I wish I could lock it, but the realtor didn’t include a key in the envelope that declared me the owner of Mack Manor. I suppose, it is so remote that it doesn’t matter anyway. Still, after living in Boston, it’s unnatural to leave my door unlocked.
Although the sun shone for a while this morning, and salty breezes blew through my studio while I worked, the usual afternoon fog rolls up from the shore. As the white mists sift through the leaves and around the shed, they have a muffling effect on the world. The waves on the beach are a distant hiss, the weathervane barely squeaks as the wind changes, and even the saucy crows hush. Especially one.
I’m not afraid of birds. In fact, I enjoy watching them flit from tree to tree, singing of whatever makes them happy. But there is one crow that sits on the top branch of a scraggly pine tree. Well, I think it’s a pine tree. I ought to learn one kind from another. For the two weeks I’ve been here, he watches me walk each day to the mailbox. He never caws or moves, except for his head that follows me as I go by.
The hinges creak as I yank open the dented, rusted mailbox. I flip through the few envelopes—two ads for credit cards, a light bill, and a letter to a Madame Pearl McEnchroe. I turn it over. There is no return address, also no postage stamp, only a circle with smudged lettering. I decide to take it to the post office the next time I go to town. Perhaps it is the name of a former owner.
Distracted by the strange letter, I fail to notice how dense the fog has become until a rustling in the bushes alerts my senses. I can’t see the scraggly pine, but I can feel the crow watching me. The dark peaks of my house are almost invisible through the swirling clouds. I notice a little window beneath the topmost eaves. Was that a light? My pulse quickens. I gaze at the dark round frame. “There it is again!”
Not being able to tear my gaze from that window, a hypnotic eye staring back at me, I can’t decide whether to run or not. The mists roll over me, and I turn around and around, not knowing which way is forward or back. A blast rips through the air —the foghorn! I know the lighthouse lies south of me, toward town. I turn and see the beam flash and disappear. A few seconds pass, and it flashes again.
I laugh. “This solitude is making me crazy.” I giggle at my fears and briskly walk home. “It’s just an old house with strange sounds and odd things.” Talking aloud comforts me. I twist the brass doorknob, but it doesn’t turn. “What?” I try again. “It can’t be locked.” A fluttering sound and screech startles me. It’s the crow. His talons grasp the weathered railing, and he cocks his head at me.
“Go away!” I wave my arms at him.
He flaps his wings and caws again.
I desperately try the door again. Definitely locked. In despair, I plop down on the warped steps to access my situation. The crow flies away. “Good. Leave me alone.” I shake my head. “Now I’m talking to a bird.”
In a few seconds, he returns. Hopping over to the doormat, he drops something and flutters to the railing again. Curious, I pick up the object—a key with a pearl on its chain.
I nod to the crow. “Thank you, Sir . . . or maybe I should say, Ma’am.”
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