I think I'm being watched.
Mind you, I haven't seen anything. No shadows on the blinds. No furtive flashes. Nothing. I have absolutely no evidence.
Just a feeling.
I've been sitting here for three hours now, sunken deep in the couch, the TV on, the lamps on the end tables burning low and warm. I've tried to get up, but the feeling of being watched is so overwhelming it paralyzes me. The windows are closed and covered, but I'm afraid if I look up, I'll see something. A face. He'll know I know and then he'll have to act. My neck's starting to hurt. My phone's battery is dying.
What was that?
It was nothing. Nothing at all. I was overreacting again. That's all. Last night was my first night alone in the house, and I got spooked. It's not surprising, really. It's so big and empty without mother's spirit filling it. Big, empty, and dark.
I'm not afraid of the dark. It's just darkness means concealment, and you never know if there's someone there. You can't see. You don't have electric eyes. It's funny. Kids are very perceptive. They know things that grown-ups forget. Security, I guess. Kids are just starting out and hesitant but adults are confident. You got the sale, you know how to drive, you know who you are and what you are.
When I was sitting on the couch last night, I had an episode, but that's okay. It's an adjustment. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Akron, Ohio. I'm forty-years-old and every time I had my mother. She was like a house. When your house burns down you're out of sorts for a while, but you eventually get back on your feet.
I wonder if the Red Cross knows about me? Don't they help people who've had natural disasters? Then again dying isn't a natural disaster, though technically you could say so. I have a really clean mind. Nothing's wrong. They can't come out and sort through any wreckage because I'm not a filthy person. It's not how I was raised. You make a mess, you clean it up. You can't see anything. It's not there.
The funeral was yesterday at noon. We picked out a plot, me and her, years ago at the cemetery on Chestnut Hill, overlooking the river and the forest beyond. A beautiful place. You could even see a few church steeples poking up through the trees, It reminded me of a nineties movie, because it was fall, and the leaves looked like they were on fire. It wasn't Halloween, but something like that, one of those days. The old man who showed us the plot said it was the highest point in the county.
That scared me. Heights scare me. They say heat rises and radiowaves are hot, so there's a lot of weird waves going on up there. Like when you're on a plane and your ears go pop. It's not healthy. I don't think it'll kill you or anything, but when I go really high up I get sick.
People have their own preconceived notions, and that's fine. Mother liked the spot and who cares? You're dead. You don't even have a chance to lock the door and put your hands over your ears. Metal coffins, anyway.
When we had the funeral, it was raining, soft, thin drops from the sky. I thought angels were crying. Not that they actually were, it's an expression I heard on the news one time. Someone crashed their car in the water. They never thought it was funny. I didn't think it was funny. A person sometimes falls and they can't get up and they die, and death scares me. Religious videos showed a guy going into the dark and he said it didn't feel good. He had to see the X before they saved him. I don't think I remember Jesus, and if you don't catch the wave, you drown.
"We're sorry for your loss," the preacher said. He touched my shoulder and smiled.
Don't look at me.
What was that supposed to mean? There was no one else there. Does he know something? He has a church somewhere, but we never went to it.
Then it hit me. His face rippled. He was LEGION.
Your eyes hurt.
He must have seen the look on my face. "Are you okay?"
I was okay. Mother was in a better place. I was scared for him, though. Those things would dismantle his oppressive hair seeds if he didn't get professional help.
My aunt drove me home. The house was waiting in a field. Woods were on all sides. Something felt off. It looked like the same house, but you can't be sure, because your brain shakes it up and puts back the pieces when you're gone, and they don't do it right sometimes. Kim Kardashian thinks so. I saw it on TV.
"If you need anything, anything at all..."
"Sure, auntie," I smiled.
Inside the house, I walked the halls and explored the rooms. It was different because it wasn't a house my mother had touched.
"You can change it with your mind."
Maybe. We can do a lot. But my mother's room was like a museum. These things didn't belong to her. They looked like they did, but they didn't, so I just left it alone.
I went to the living room and turned the TV on. It was the news. Some same old thing. Laughing at the sports. The newscaster had a nice suit and nice hair. His name was Bob.
"Stop looking at me," he said.
I wasn't looking at them. They were looking at me. All three of them. Bob, Janet, and Marty with the sports.
"And it's your fault the weather's bad."
The snow on the TV was soothing. I don't think those were voices in the static, though. Jumbled flying patterns in your mind. You assume. You assume you get it right and get an A, but no one's perfect, not even Bob, no matter how much he pretends.
Pounding on the door, echoing through the house.
"The weather's here!"
"You should have stopped it with your mind."
"It's coming to get us."
"Don't open the door."
"He has to now. They know we're in here."
The man in the red rain slicker handed me a box. PIZZA it said.
Did I order a pizza? I couldn't remember. There was a wall. Lips and a hammer. Something. PIZZA?
Maybe it was poison.
No. A care package. The Red Cross knew I was hungry.
You can't even trust The Red Cross.
I put the pizza in the oven and cooked it more. It was okay. I ate some of it.
I feel better today than I did yesterday. I forgot to take my morning meds but I
took my night ones. I met with mother's lawyer today. It's all official. The house is in my name. The money's mine. Mother had a lot of money, and now so do I.
Sometimes, I think I'd rather have her gone. But sometimes I think I'm wrong and I'd rather have her back. I loved her, but she was difficult in her old age. Mentally ill. She thought something was wrong with me and wouldn't let me leave the house. Aliens, I guess. Something sick. You walk out the door and you might not come back. That's why I don't like people looking at me.
Mother was a businesswoman. She owned a lot of stuff. Chicken stuff. Fish stuff. The Northern Neck of Virginia is big on fish. Catch it and clean it. She's like Bubba Gump.
Now I'm like Bubba Gump.
"You're a very rich man. I'm jealous."
The lawyer was looking at me strangely, his head cocked to one side. Trying to drain the voices deeper like a government agent.
"Indeed you are."
He didn't say it.
I need a break.
I still have that being watched feeling. Eyes feel funny, don't they? It's a strange animal energy, because neutrons have more weight that they don't, and you can feel it. I closed all the blinds and drew the curtains, but I still feel it. I had my eyes closed. I was afraid I'd see someone looking in at me and go crazy, start screaming and never stop. A disembodied set of giant eyes hovering in the night.
"Use your mind to stop it."
Shut up! Shut up! I'm so sick of the same thing. I know. I know. I know. It can't be The Red Cross. Unless they want to steal my money. Tactics are getting stiffer. The Jehovah's are next. They can look at you and know, and know they know you'll confess because their eyes are God and God is looking at a corpse for all He knows.
I went upstairs and locked my door. There's only one way in or out. I should be safe tonight.
I'm out of meds. Not that they're working anymore anyway. I can't go to the pharmacy because they'll look at me. The doctors will look at me. I can't shake this feeling of being watched. It's even in daylight now.
I put black trash bags over the windows. It helps some. I also stuffed towels in all the door jambs so I don't walk into a room and see eyes straining to look up at me.
Ouch! I rubbed my face. It burned. Like a cigarette. What else was I to do when I was alone for days? I was so happy when she'd come slithering home drunk and fucked, but she just stuck me in the face with a cigarette. Reach into the crib as big as God and JAB!
"But that never happened."
It could have. It very might have could have.
Was there a buzzing sound in the walls?
I put my ear against it. Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. They were listening to me. My heart stopped and my blood ran cold.
That proved it.
"Stop them with your mind."
I took down the bags this morning and put all of the towels in the laundry. I stretched luxuriously out on the couch, like a big, fat cat, and watched Good Morning America. I laughed when the audience did. I clapped when they clapped. I made coffee and drank it black. The grounds were lumpy in my mouth, but I smacked my lips, yumyumyumyumyum. When I was done, I drove into town and ate at a diner. I smiled at the waitresses, nodded, said hello, never made eye contact, but that's a small thing.
I bought things. A new suit. A crossbow. A book at the drugstore. When I went back home, I threw open the windows and watched more TV. I never talked. I never laughed, unless the TV did.
Nothing to see here.
I'm utterly and completely normal.