Margie wasn’t prone to skittishness. She was a crafty young woman with a good head on her shoulders, and a love of practical jokes. She liked to stomp through leaves in the fall and feel them scrunching beneath her feet. She loved the smell of freshly ground coffee and was a slave to her caffeinated habit. Her most constant companion was a bright copper coffee mug that matched her long curly hair. You would know Margie had struck again if suddenly your pre-set radio stations were all light rock fm, or the balancer from your chair went missing. She often said to her lifelong friend, and most frequent victim,
“You’d have to get up pretty early to pull one over on me Gus.”
The blankets bunched around her pajamas uncomfortably. Moonlight created a horizontal pattern across the bedspread as cold night air tumbled down from the window.
Why can’t I sleep? She thought helplessly. The impending dread of spending the whole night tossing and turning played at the edges of her mind as she forced herself to lay still and keep her eyes closed.
Her mother had always told her that if she couldn’t sleep to give thanks for the good things in her life. It usually worked.
The covers shifted suddenly causing Margie to gasp. Gordy, her black and white cat, launched himself onto her covers with a stealth that betrayed his girth.
“Meeow?” he said as he walked over her chest, and mashed his head into her chin. A long shuddering creak came from the back gate as she pushed Gordy off and got out of bed.
She peaked cautiously through the slats of her window shade. The gate swung on rusty hinges. Wrapping the terrycloth robe around her body she moved away from the window.
I will never be able to sleep with that gate open. Irritation that she couldn’t get to sleep mingled with another tingly sensation. She dismissed the feeling as foolish. I must have left it open.
“No Gordy, I’m not feeding you again. You’re too fat.” He ignored the slight and trotted down the hallway with that familiar crick in his tail.
Margie carefully approached the front door; she wasn’t sure where Gordy was headed – likely to the basement to his dish. Not wishing to tumble face down onto the linoleum should Gordy be following her, Margie stepped gingerly.
Lights were unnecessary by the light of the moon. Her toes touched soundlessly as she scuffed around for her slippers at the front door. “Shhhh-LUNK” - the lock on her door slid back. It began to open and in a near trance, she allowed the door to push her into the wall with its natural swing. Margie stood deathly still as the dark shape entered her home and shut the door. Pressed now against the wall facing the intruder in the dark, she held her breath. In her mind, she chanted, I am invisible, I am invisible, I am invisible.
The shadowed figure proceeded into the home. Margie silently reached for the doorknob. With a finesse her trembling hands could scarcely manage, she began turning the knob. Every whispering sound was a beacon of her location. She knew as the door opened it would make a thudding creak – a sound as common to her home as that creaky spot on the floor by her fridge. It was now or never. With terror-fuelled speed, she burst out of her home, intent only on getting away from the intruder. She wasn’t sure where she was going, but the mysterious figure now prowling her home stood only a few feet away, snickering.
“It doesn’t get much earlier than 12:00am, does it Margie?”
Gus tucked the spare key back under the mat as he left, the copper coffee mug now securely glued to the top of her portable dishwasher. His shoes were still glued to the floor of his front entry where he’d attempted his first unfortunate step earlier that evening. He trod on chilly grass with shoeless feet, warmed only by his first true victory, and completely unaware how successful he’d really been.
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