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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Blogtober 2021: Star


The other room upstairs is the full bath that the kids used when they were still living at home. It has been decorated in a variety of ways over the years including a Star Wars motif that included a clock and shower curtain. Now, since it sits right next to my home office, I have dubbed it the Executive Washroom and its convenience cannot be overstated. If I need to step away from a conference call for a "bio break," as we so delicately label them, I can usually say with full confidence that will be back in sixty seconds.

My current bio break has wrapped and I'm standing at the sink washing my hands. I lean down to splash some cold water in my face. A lack of sleep combined with a string of conference calls has left me nearly comatose. The water cools my skin and refreshes my spirit for a moment and linger over the sink for a moment to enjoy it. I grab the hand towel to my left and dry my face. A quick glance in the mirror when the towel drops causes my breath to stop.

My face is not my own.

The image in the mirror lasts only a second but is burned into my memory. My skin is rotten and festered. I look like death.

Gone. Gone now. As quickly as the face was there it disappears leaving me to stumble backward in shock and horror. My breathing slows but my heart still pounds away. I step into the hallway and look toward the door at the end. The natural light seeps from under the door but the darkness is still consuming. I draw in a deep breath and stomp down the hall, pausing to open the bedroom door to the right. Everything inside is in tact. The bed is made. The dresser is untouched. The closet can be dealt with another day.

I move to the door at the end of the hall. The one where the shuffling occurs and the shadows pass. I summon another deep breath and burst into the room. All is quiet. All is well. Bed made. Dressers in place. The closet can be dealt with another day. A heavy dread falls over me and the sensation of a presence behind me freezes my blood. The whisper comes again.

"There are no good things."

I close my eyes. Do I dare turn around? Will the face in the mirror be there? I summon courage I never knew I had and turn. Nothing is there except the light. I think about an exchange from an old episode of M*A*S*H* where Hawkeye was having nightmares. Frank Burns tells him, "there is nothing in the dark that's not there in the light." Hawkeye's response resonates with me:

"Why do I find no comfort in that thought?"

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