Dark Shadows

I see dark shadows watching me all the time out of the corner of my eye; I fear my time is coming to an end soon….Please watch over my cats. ~Somewhere, Somewhere

The washing machine changes gears from one cycle to another. I think a belt must be slipping. But since I need clean pants and shirts for this trip, I ignore my worry. After all, it’s still working even if it’s loud.

The suitcase and bag are open on my bed; a cat lies within each. Not that I’m packing them, of course. As soon as I unzip the black fabric, though, the best cat-trap ever is opened. Theodora peers at me over the sturdy zipper. Her ears flick front to back and she slits her eyes. She contemplates destruction. Howard, on the other hand, is already asleep.

To them, this is a trip same as any other. Extra kibble in their dishes, a Tupperware dish of water set out as well. I hope if they aren’t concerned, no one else is either.

All week I’ve tried to keep my motions steady, to go about my trips to Starbucks, the office, and the grocery store the same as I always do. And yet I’ve always lost every poker hand ever dealt me. Trying is far from doing, after all. Does buying the smaller bag of petite peas tip my hand? The single box of frozen pizza, did it look suspicious?

I boot up my laptop; its whirring comforts me. The end is near, I suppose. The printer sits by the window where it always has. No way to move it, so I slide the arm back. Control, P, and the pages begin spilling out onto the floor. I pretend I don’t notice. Theodora’s tail swishes next to my hand, stroking me. For so long she and Howard have been my only family. I will miss them.

Laundry, coffee, key strokes. The morning progresses in piles of folded shirts and pages on my carpeted floor. Then I put it all in my bags until they hold something much less wonderful than my cats.

My words, voice, footsteps, each one I try to keep from flinching over. Too loud, too forced, too scared. Do they hear it too?

Finally, I give each cat another scratch under the chin. They each beg for more. So does my heart.

Out in the hallway, I slide the envelop under the Gardiner’s door. Fourteen years we’ve been trading vacation plant watering, cat box scooping. They know I’m heading out for a work trip, so the envelop is expected by them as well as the cameras. The words though, they’ll be a surprise.

I take the elevator to the parking garage, and then drive out of the dark coolness and into the hot sunshine. It’s time to come into the light, no matter how much it burns.

* * *

Upstairs, Maude Gardiner stoops to pick up the crisp white rectangle on her carpet. When she calls to her husband, her voice is more scratched than usual.

“Jeffrey, look at this. Bill’s written us the oddest note. I wonder whatever he means by it.”

I see dark shadows watching me all the time out of the corner of my eye; I fear my time is coming to an end soon….Please watch over my cats. ~Somewhere, Somewhere

*Note to readers:

More than anything, I wanted to be a spy as a child. I grew up in the fervor of the Cold War and 007 movies. To my way of thinking, not only were spies everywhere, but they were fantastically fascinating. Other girls were playing Barbie and dreaming of husbands and babies. I schemed over wooing Russian bad guys to their death, running across moving trains, jumping from airplanes into steamy jungles.

The Cold War is over and James Bond holds a new appreciation for me. But my love of intrigue and espionage continues to reside in my still 10-year-old heart. As we follow the court cases and speculation of whistle-blowers and men on the run, I was inspired to write this bit of fiction. And yes, there was a taped “X” on the window in my mind’s eye. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Dark Shadows

  1. I guess that’s not the reaction you expect from such a (beautifully written, as usual) post, but I can really connect to this. I am currently taking a quite long trip, and my last week (before I left) has been exactly like that. Except, the dark shadows watching were not enemy spies but the tendrils of my anxiety, ready to take over whenever I made a little mistake. In the end, knowing that this came out of your childhood games has been, for reasons I can’t quite point out, an immense relief.

  2. Fun stuff, Kristina. That cold war thing, it seems to have molded the shadow worlds of many millions of American children. I wonder how children not in the USA or USSR fared through those times and into these.

    Thanks for sharing this, Kristina – I’m really loving all this new Friday Flash you’re giving us 😉

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