Eilea had forgotten someone was coming to check out a musty smell in the bathroom so Mable (and manager) accompanied the repairman to her apartment to let him in.
The stranger stood inside the entrance to the long hallway leading to the bedrooms and said, “Which room is it?”
“It’s the first bedroom, the door straight ahead,” Mable informed him.
Plunking on the sofa she heard banging and clanging and wandered down the hall to the bedroom. “Find anything?”
“Definitely a musty smell alright, but I don’t see any evidence of a leak anywhere.”
“I’ll be in the living room if you need anything.”
A few minutes later he returned. “I can’t find the source of the problem, but if it continues, I’ll come back and we’ll shut down the entire system.”
“I was hoping to avoid that. It inconveniences many people.”
Immediately upon their arrival home, Theresa showed up as the girls had made arrangements for the evening, promising to keep her in the loops if plans changed. Andrew was working at the Theatre and was staying to watch the newly released Jurassic Park movie.
Eilea couldn’t wait to hit the shower. Stripping, she turned the shower on and stepped into the enclosure. As soon as the first welcome sprays of hot water hit her body, she began to relax.
Squirting body wash onto a back scrubber, she brushed gently across her shoulders and lower back. God, if only she could get through today without a phone call. Please, god, let tonight be phone call free!
After rubbing her body down, she washed her hair, wrung the excess water out, turned off the tap and opened the curtain. She stopped and listened. She could have sworn she heard something and wondered if one of the kids come home early? Nothing. Must have been the people downstairs. Draping a large navy blue towel around her wet body, she tucked the ends in tightly, placed another around her hair and headed for her bedroom.
Lifting the white pleated curtain, she glanced out the window. A big gorgeous harvest moon had transformed the sky into a beautiful midnight blue. Patting her body dry, she slipped into a red silk nightgown and matching cover.
Walking toward her bathroom, determined to brush the tangles out of her hair before they really got out of control, she reached for the light switch. She hesitated when the phone rang and made her way back to the living room.
“Hi mom, it’s me. We’re at Cliff’s. We decided to watch a movie.”
“So what are you going to watch?”
“Beavis and Butthead do America.”
“Are you kidding? Beavis and Butthead? The guys rented it. Need I say more?”
“I get the picture, Christina, and thanks for calling, I appreciate it. See you later.” Eilea laughingly replaced the receiver.
She simply had to get out on the balcony and take another look at that magnificent moon. Sliding the screen across, she stepped out. The moon spread its rich golden luster over the water, bathing the entire bay in a rich luminous shimmering glow. Eilea watched with complete enjoyment and left only after a few random clouds moved in to camouflage the moon’s brilliance.
Returning to the bedroom, she once again headed for her bathroom. Hearing voices under the bedroom window, she walked around the end of the bed and tip-toed to the window, discreetly lifting the curtain to look outside. A policeman was standing next to a tenant trying to break into her own vehicle. Well illuminated in the glow of the moon, she watched Maggie’s explanation. She couldn’t wait until tomorrow. She was going to really tease her about this one! Curiosity now appeased, she went to retrieve her brush.
Flicking the bathroom light on, she did a double take. For staring back at her was a foggy rippled reflection of her own image. Someone had taken her deodorant and scribbled a message on the mirror.
“I’m watching you!”
She rushed to the mirror and rubbed furiously at the writing with her hand, smearing the message which only succeeded in making it look even more ghoulish. Tears filled her eyes as she noticed the crumbled remnants of her deodorant stick spread across the counter while the cracked container lay beside them. Waves of nausea washed over her.
Kneeling down, she opened the cupboard door to reveal a bottle of window cleaner and a cloth and began rubbing furiously at the repugnant mess, intent on erasing the intruder’s presence. Suddenly throwing the cleaner into the sink, she rushed to the front door and drove the deadbolt home before dropping onto the sofa to light a smoke with shaking hands.
Oh god, what was she going to do? He’d been here, in her home! What if he hurt the kids? Her mind raced as she paced the front room, nearly burning her fingers on the butt of her cigarette.
Returning to the bedroom, turning on the overhead light, she was immediately almost hypnotically drawn to the bathroom. Although she had managed to erase every vestige of his message, she couldn’t erase the idea of his presence.
Pacing back and forth, she rounded the far side of the bed turned the lamp on and checked to make sure that the alarm clock was set. Flicking the overhead light off she crawled into bed. Damn it she was too unsettled to sleep.
Padding back to the front room, she grabbed her package of cigarettes and lit another smoke. Too agitated to finish, however, she ground it out in the ashtray, angry that she’d started smoking again. She had to get some sleep, somehow! Hoping that reading might help her nod off, she managed to read a few lines before she abandoned all hope reading was the answer; her anxious thoughts interfered with her concentration. Sleep did not come easy that night. Hours later, well after the kids were home and in bed, sleep finally claimed her.
Although the phone didn’t ring once during the night, her congratulations were short lived, within minutes of arriving at work, she received “the phone call” she’d been dreading.