Reads: 138

In the night she wakes and walks around the room. Something woke her, that much she knows for sure – but what? Everything is still. She can hear a generator humming up on the hill. Waves in the cove. Ashley sniffing across the hall. Something else. A faint, rustling sound. A clicking, scratching whisper.

In the dark she follows it to the corner farthest from the window to where her bookshelves sag with tomes and shadows. It almost sounds like it’s coming from the wall. Rats, she thinks, but no. It’s coming from the shelf. The books.

It’s like hearing yourself breathing when all else is sound. Like the noise of a crushed paper ball slowly expanding, springing back into form. All houses make noises but this isn’t one that she remembers. This is different. Jess places an ear against the side of the shelf and closes her eyes.


She’s not sure what she was expecting. Books don’t make noises, but it’s strange all the same. She thinks she hears it again, but this time it’s too faint to really tell. Each time she leans in to listen, it goes away, as though it doesn’t really want to be heard. Finally, she starts pulling books off the shelf and flipping between the pages. Looks behind them. Looks under them.

She starts to slide a hand in behind, into the gap between the novels and the shelf backing. She hesitates, then shudders and pulls it out so quick she knocks her elbow on the wall. Her arm and the back of her neck in tingles, she shakes her head and climbs into bed. Leaves the half-row of books to stand on its own. The others lie open on her bedside table. She closes her eyes and rolls over and pretends she can’t hear the sound from behind the books. After a while she falls asleep. The books don’t move.

The storm is starting to give in. Retreat. The rumbling in the air is growing low and the rain strikes the roof less strongly now. Soon enough morning will come and they’ll all gather to put Kevin in the ground. They’ll hang around town for a couple of days and give Ashley the comfort she needs. And then they’ll all part ways again.

Submitted: January 31, 2018

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.


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