Ruby Lily Howse 2019
I was nearly at the station when I first noticed him. The brown coat he wore. The lingering smell of death that followed. The air turned cold and all sound seemed to pause. He fascinated me the way he stood, head down, not even moving as the strong gusts of wind that kept everyone inside blew through his face. It was a gloomy day, quiet with fierce wind.
The weather seemed to follow him wherever he went, the sun never shone on his face and the strong gust of wind never ceased. I have been noticing him more frequently lately, his head always lowered and body always frozen in place. The streets were always dead and quiet when he was around. I started to think maybe I was the only one who noticed him, standing in the middle of gloomy paths and sitting on isolated park benches. Always there, never going or coming from anywhere.
I realised that everywhere I went I looked for him, his presence drawing me closer every time. I don’t know what fascinated me more the fact that he never shows his face or the fact that he is everywhere but I’ve never seen him move.
I grew fixated on the idea of figuring out everything about him, what he looked like, where he was from, how old he was.
Once again I saw him today on my way to the train station, but as I built up enough courage to finally approach him an intense feeling of anger and heaviness hit me. I fell to the floor in agonizing pain. An old lady came over to ask if I was ok and as the pain subsided I looked up for him and he was gone.
Since that day I have not slept, it’s been 72 long slow hours of me trying to doze off only to be woken shortly after with horrific nightmares of dark rooms and demons. The pain hasn’t returned and I had a strange feeling that it wouldn’t return as long as I stayed away from him. I thought this until I looked out my window to see him standing directly across the street from my house, hiding his face, wearing a brown coat and not moving a bit to even breath.
The more I stared at him the harder it became to swallow. I felt myself begin to advance to the door and walk to my front deck. I yelled out to him only to be ignored. That was when I saw it, he moved.
Panic grew inside of me as his dark presence walked in long slow strides towards me. It was ghostly the way he walked as though he weighed of nothing and was just being carried by the wind that always surrounded him. He was on the edge of my property now, still pacing towards me. I couldn’t bring myself to talk or ask who is was or what he was doing. I was frozen in place, completely hypnotized by his movement.
He stopped. Within arm distance. I still couldn’t speak but had a sudden urge to take his hat off and see his face. I grabbed it and took it off, fighting the painful feeling that his energy gave me.
He disappeared. I took off his hat, and he fell into nothing. I looked to the floor only to see his brown coat on my broken step. I was dazed and confused. Not sure what to do, I picked it up but as I did a huge rush of relief blew over me, I felt light and as if I was glowing. I walked inside, dizzy, trying not to think about what had just happened.
There was no explanation. He just disappeared. I went to the bathroom to splash my face with water, but as I look at my reflection in the mirror, I nearly faint. I wasn’t there. He was behind me, but when I turned around he wasn’t there. I looked down and realised I was wearing the coat.
My brain tries to come to a conclusion but deep down I had the strangest feeling I know what had happened. He was evil. We had swapped. Now I’m trapped, invisible and non-existent. Forever.