by Than Pence
During her morning coffee, Lisa discovers she's not alone. And might never be again.
|Lisa Dials sprinkled coffee grounds into the machine and turned it on. She then gazed out the window over the kitchen sink. The backyard was peppered with toys. The picnic table was missing benches. The fence by the forest was tall and needed to be replaced. Lisa admired it all and thought how the morning dew made the backyard look glittery, almost magical.
She appreciated the silence that the new school year afforded. She looked down at the pot and saw it was already full, so she poured a cup. Lisa brought it into the bathroom to start a shower. She thought for a moment and decided to take a bath. All the while, she carefully sipped her coffee. With the tub nearly full, when the bubbles she added threatened to spill over, she scurried to the kitchen for a refill. Turning the corner, she froze.
In the window was a man’s face.
His hair was black, long, and stringy. It was framing his face, which was scruffy-looking in a patchy way. He had a scar over one eyebrow. His proximity to the window caused shadows to haunt his features. But what Lisa noticed most were his eyes: they were dark, almost black. And they were staring at her.
Lisa's eyes darted to the backdoor as she wasn't ever certain it was locked. When she looked back, the man's face was gone. She gasped and shuffled to her cell phone as her eyes started to water.
As the phone rang, she kept her eyes moving from window to window, afraid she'd see the man's face again. But she grew more afraid when she saw nothing but the dew-soaked world outside. Finally, the police answered and she quickly explained her situation. They asked her to stay on the line, but she said she had to call her husband and hung up.
In minutes, she heard sirens coming. She heard a bang on the door and went to answer it while dialing to her husband's cell phone. She opened the door and was confused. She saw flashing lights, but no cars, no policemen. They went to the wrong house! she thought, panicked.
And the stranger was there, in her doorway. She heard a tiny "Hello?" come from the phone, but the stranger was fast. He rushed in, tackling her and stealing her breath. Lisa ached and the man shut the door. He stepped on her phone and then punched her in the temple. Her world went dark.
When she awoke, someone was pounding on the door. The sound swam in her brain, but she was afraid to answer the door. She heard keys jingling and thought of her husband. She opened the door and hugged him as he held her tight, kissing her forehead and looking into her eyes. Policemen came in after him, snaking through the house like an invasive entity. She knew they were checking to see if the stranger was still there. They didn’t find anyone.
After surveying the house, the couple realized that nothing was taken, but Lisa feared that the man was always in the house. She thought he might’ve wedged himself into the crawlspace or attic, and was hiding, watching, and waiting for the next moment when Lisa would be alone, so he could prove to her that she wasn’t.
Word Count: 554