Which is worse - who is chasing me outside my house or what is waiting for me inside?
I wrapped my coat collar tight around myself to brace against the cold. The wind whipped tendrils of dry snow and dead leaves over the pavement and the sidewalk. The warm, yellow glow of my own house's lights down the street drew me like a beacon. My husband would be bustling around the kitchen making his famous winter root soup and cornbread. I stopped. I heard something. I'm sure of it. Squirrel? Bird? There it is again. A war raged within me between curiosity and survival instinct. I stepped closer to the neighbor's shrubbery. The meticulous hedgerow stood still in the night air, the fake spider webs and spiders that festooned it for Halloween rustled in the cold night wind. The light shifted, turning brighter. I looked up at the waning crescent moon, which hung low in the sky and glowed bright orange from the recent influx of wildfire smoke. When I turned back, they were there. Ghostly eyes stared back at me, hovering just above the bush's leaves. My breath caught in my throat, but I was transfixed. The eyes did not look angry or malevolent. They looked sad, wistful even, and vaguely familiar.
My adrenal glands caught up and I took off running. The only sounds I could hear were my heart pounding, the wind, and the thunk of my wood-soled dress shoes on the sidewalk. My house drew closer.
Safely inside, the door slammed shut behind me, I was greeted with the warmth of my home and the scent of dinner cooking. I caught sight of myself in the hallway mirror. "Do you look like you've seen a ghost?" I asked myself. Turning, I fainted at the sight of my husband, dead on the kitchen floor, those same eyes looking up at me, now glassy and lifeless.