Living among the shadows


Since our daughter, her husband and their three little ones moved in with us while waiting to move into the house they’re having built, I’ve had a most peculiar feeling.

It’s an odd feeling — as though I am not entirely alone.

Oh, I catch glimpses of shadows now and then, long hair flying around a corner, muffled laughter, but I often do not see who the shadows, the hair and the laughter belong to.

They’re quick, very quick.

I dash up the stairs and faint echoes of footsteps trail behind.

I stop, the echoes stop. I resume the stairs, the echoes resume.

Sometimes I feel as though there is a presence behind me and other times it feels as though a presence has gone before me.

I turn into the bathroom to put on my makeup and see my cosmetic drawer is ajar. I would never leave it like that. Or did I? Or did someone else? But who? It’s unlikely the husband has developed an interest in blush and mascara. The hairbrush and comb are out of place. Two of my lip glosses have lip gloss sliding down their sides and are without caps.

I straighten the drawer, fix my face and step into the bedroom.

Indentations have pockmarked the bed — like divots on a golf course or craters on the moon. Odd. The bed was made more than an hour ago. Muffled giggling comes from the other side of the bed and the bed begins shaking ever so slightly.

Strange, simply strange.

I return downstairs and pause at my desk. The tape dispenser is empty. Again. For the third time in three days. I don’t remember using vast amounts of tape. Maybe I need more sleep. Maybe I tape things in my sleep.

The stapler is open and empty as well. Surely, I would remember flying through 100 staples. But then I don’t remember creating this pile of drawings with colored markers — pictures of people with beady eyes, crooked smiles, wild hair and stick bodies with disjointed arms and legs.

The scissors are out as well. They’re the good scissors — the pair that is sharp and not for children. Strange, I don’t remember cutting. Something among the pieces of paper lying on the floor catches my eye. It is a long golden curl of hair. I certainly don’t remember cutting my hair. What’s more, I don’t remember being blonde.

I mutter aloud, “When did I use up the tape? When did I empty the stapler? When did I create these wonderful, beautiful drawings?”

The door to the closet beneath the stairs softly closes. Laughter emanates from behind the door.

Creeping to the closet as quietly as a cat, I fling open the door and yell, “GOTCHA!”

The phantoms tumble out and roll on the floor, arms and legs flying in every direction, screaming and shrieking with laughter.

“You scared us! How did you know we were in there?”

“Oh, just a lucky guess.”