Tonight started out just like every other night. I came home from work at exactly six. I made a TV dinner, then ate the disappointingly bland food while watching two episodes of my favorite show. Then I took a shower at seven, staying under the hot spray until the water ran cold. Then, just like every night, I blow-dried my hair, brushed my teeth, put on my flannel pajamas, then climbed into bed, where I read 42 pages of my new book.
After that, it wasn’t an ordinary night anymore.
When I put my book down on my night table, there was already a copy there. Marked in the same spot.
I thought that was odd, but assumed I must have accidentally grabbed two copies when I bought the book. Well, I tried to convince myself that’s what it was.
Then I scooted down into the bed, under the covers. I pulled the blankets up to my shoulders and then turned onto my left side, facing into the middle of my queen-sized bed. Just like every night. But tonight, there was a freshly made body impression on the other side of the bed.
I’m the only one left in my family.
I tried to close my eyes and just forget about it. I was just imagining things, I thought. I do, sometimes, get a little imaginative because of my job at the mental hospital. It’s difficult at times to be a counselor.
Things were fine for a little while, but then, just as I was falling asleep, I had to get up to use the bathroom. So I went, hurrying so I wouldn’t disrupt my usual schedule very much. The fluorescent light in the bathroom was welcome, after the slightly weird imaginings. I almost didn’t want to leave, but I am a creature of habit, so I reluctantly climbed back into my bed.
The crying issuing from the corner was what woke me next. I tried not to look. I desperately wanted to just go back to sleep and forget the whole night. But I looked. How could I not? Wouldn’t you look to see who was crying, especially if you lived alone?
Now I can’t stop staring. I’d probably call for help, but my phone is on the other side of the room, next to the corner where the crying is coming from. It wouldn’t matter if I had it, anyway. Who’d believe me when I told them what was going on?
Because how can I be sitting on the bed, staring at me, crying in the corner?