Friday, May 22, 2009

The Guests

I was twenty-three and visiting family in Connecticut over Spring Break. My uncle, aunt, and two cousins live in an old two-storey home by the side of the woods. Their New England home is easily a hundred years old if not older. The weather that week was snowy and grey, and it would get dark early.

The room I was set up in was a fair-sized guest room on the top floor. It was a rectangular room which you entered from one long end where the closet was. The bed was located on the other far end. The window was near the bed and overlooked the yard. Every night, when the house would become quiet, I'd lie curled up in thick red sheets with a book I'd brought along for the trip, grateful that I wasn't out with the frostbitten trees and icy wind. It was a well-decorated room, and I was glad to be away from my congested dorm back at the university.

I never got past the first couple of chapters of that book. Everytime I tried to read lying on that one side of the room, I'd feel my attention drifting to the rest of the room. Before long, I'd have to put the book down and stare at the empty space. I'd look at the room for a few seconds from where I lay on the bed and then return to my book. But I couldn't focus on the words, and oftentimes would end up staring at a sentence without understanding its meaning. I couldn't shake off the feeling that someone was there in the room looking directly at me, and pretty soon, I'd have to put the book down and stare at the room again, with its closed closet, walls, closed door, and beautiful black metal dressing table with a mirror.

By the end of the week, I'd shifted to sleeping on the edge of the bed with my back touching the wall and keeping my eyes on the rest of the room. I would hear someone constantly walking outside in the snow at night under the window. I mentioned it to my aunt and she thought it was probably the old man they'd hired to clean their yard. But why he'd choose to be out working as late as 2am every night in the freezing dark was beyond even her.

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