Tuesday, June 9, 2009
What was that sound? A scratching? A soft but intent scratching coming from the window. At this time of night? Look, the cat hears it too. Is it a branch from the Hawthorn tree outside my window, rubbing in the breeze against the glass? It must be. But there is no breeze. I can see from my bed that the branches of the tree are not moving. It has been still and hot all day. When I finally fell asleep a few hours ago the air was stiflingly thick and hot. What I wouldn’t have given then for a cool breeze. What I would give for one now, but for another reason altogether. If I could see that branch move in the moonlight and hear the wind in the night, I could forget all this and roll over. I could fall back asleep. Fall back asleep. What an odd term. That to sleep is to fall. Like losing control, to let go of consciousness and drop into a well of darkness. To take for granted that I will wake, that I will land somewhere in that abyss of sleep softly. Do we only let go because we are too exhausted to stay awake? Will I lose my grip simply because I cannot hold on any longer? Or will I forget to care? Is it that I will let myself acquiesce once I have become distracted enough by some lithe and yielding thought that comes to me with arms out-stretched to hold me in the embrace of sleep? Now, that is a vivid, albeit Victorian image of sleep. Like some midsummer’s night wood nymph, come to seduce me into sleep. That might be pleasant. Enough! Stop thinking and let yourself sleep. It‘s not as if you don’t let yourself sleep every night previous to this one. Relax and stop thinking. Stop listening to that scratching, and stop looking at the window. It is nothing.
Too high up from the sill to be a mouse. The sound comes not at any rhythm. It is inconsistent, yet diligent - as if it is working away at something. Something like the paint and putty that holds the pane in place. And when that pane lets go, will I hear it fall softly on the carpeted floor? Or will it be held in place for a moment and then turned and pulled through the window and carefully dropped to the grass below? Would I hear it from the bed? Would it shatter from this height? God, what is holding him up? Does he float there? Or is he clinging to the clapboards with long and bony fingers? Are his toes curled under each board just enough to allow him to work with one hand?
The cat sits up and continues to stare at the window, her ears pulled back. She suddenly hisses. No! Don’t think about this. Don’t let go. Don’t give in to panic. Think about some thing else. Better yet, take action. Stand up and walk over to the window. Check out this phantom for yourself. Discover for yourself what this unremarkable sound is and just what is causing it. Or, if you cannot bring yourself to do that, get up and leave the room. Perhaps if I pretend to be thirsty, and act as if I am just getting up for a glass of water, will I fool him? Then I can make a run for it. But to where? The front door? Outside? That’s where he is. Could I make it to the car? No, the darkness is his domain. One step outside and I would be his. His embrace would not be that of some sprite, but of some other thing, with long and oh-so-cold fingers on my skin. I would be warm and slick with sweat and paralyzed with fear in his arms. Would his eyes be red like they are in horror movies? No, his are yellow like a wolf. Yes, there they are. I see them through the glass. Wait, are they real? If they blink they are real. Yes, there they go. Not once but twice as if to answer me. Yes, they are real. They are lovely, really. Fringed with sooty lashes. Not yellow at all really, but golden and great. The paler cheekbone angles sharply in and then there are his lips; full and gently parted, whispering something. Yes, I've been foolish. I am going to the window. It is such a hot night. I need the air.