Rachel turned into her driveway, skin still tingling with fear. She had glanced at her review mirror every few seconds searching for any sign Drew had followed her. Of course that was ridiculous, after tonight he’d never want to see her again. She parked in the driveway behind her house. A few houses down the neighbor’s dog barked in their front yard. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she scooped up her papers from the office with her purse and closed the car door with her hip. The sound echoed around her yard and for a moment the neighbor’s dog was silent.
The trees along her yard cast long shadows from the streetlight. She turned trying to catch a bit of light to figure out which key was gold and which was silver. She tried three keys in the lock before one finally spun and she pushed in to the back door. She locked the door then tossed her papers on the counter.
The light from her living room lamp cast a swatch of brightness in to the otherwise dark kitchen. She hadn’t expected to be gone so long and only one light was on. She put her shoes by the door and quietly padded in to the next room flipping on the kitchen’s overhead light as she went. She stepped in to the great room. To her right the lamp was casting a dim glow around the room. She turned to her left and turned on the light in the dining room. The answering machine blinked three times.
She pushed the play button. The first two messages were nothing but silence. Then the third message “Hi Rachel, Shannon. If you come home tonight call me. If not, I know what you did tonight.” Her voice sang. Rachel flipped her phone open and dialed Shannon.
“So you did come home. That was quick.” Shannon said. “I only talked to you, what, an hour ago?”
“Yes, about that.” Rachel continued walking through the house as she spoke opening closets and checking locks on windows and doors “The strangest thing happened when I was there.” She hesitated for a moment. “Things were going great. He was saying all the right things and we were kissing.” The tingle of fear poked harder as she thought back.
“Well, I thought of Curtis and went cold.”
“How in the world did that dweeb pop in your head when you were kissing a hottie like Drew?”
“I don’t know. Adam, Curtis and I were having a good time at mom’s and it reminded me of back before, well, back before everything happened in college.”
“And you started remembering old thoughts and tied them to Curtis?”
“No, I think Curtis popped in my head…well, I don’t know why he was there but when he did come in my head the moment was gone.”
“And…” Shannon sounded disappointed. How was Rachel supposed to control every thought that entered her brain?
“I told him I wanted to stop. That was when he changed.”
“Well duh. You can’t lead a guy on like that.”
“I wasn’t.” Rachel yelled in the phone. Then calmer she continued. “I wasn’t in the mood any more but when he cornered me and acted like…Well, it gave me chills. I had to get out of there so I left and came straight home.”
“Are you okay now?”
“Yes, I was almost in tears on the way home but I’ve calmed down.” Rachel rubbed her arms hard against the cold inside her.
“Was it a panic attack?” Shannon sounded really concerned. It was about time. Rachel had begun to wonder who Shannon was rooting for.
“Have you ever felt like…I don’t know…a bad feeling about something and you don’t know why?” Rachel’s shuffled back and forth on the wood that separated the living room rug from the dining room rug. Her slippers drug on the hardwood and made the only other sound in the house.
“Yes, you start to remember every horror film you’ve ever seen.”
“I didn’t remember any horror films.”
“You know what I mean.”
Rachel picked up a white sweater she had hanging on a chair and wrapped it around her shoulders. “I don’t know what it was. I’m really scared though.”
“Yes. I can’t put…I feel like I can’t breathe”
Someone knocked and Rachel squealed in surprise.
“What is it?” Shannon asked, fear evident in her voice too.
Rachel took a few moments to catch her breath. “Someone knocked on the door and about made me jump out of my skin. It must be mom.”
She walked over to the front door and opened it. “No” Rachel said, barely able to get her voice above a whisper. “Please no.” She started crying.
“Rachel what is wrong?” Shannon’s voice was shrill in Rachel’s ear. “Rachel, answer me.”
She didn’t answer, couldn’t answer.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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