Fiction Thursday – The Shadow Man

The mother’s eyes snapped open. For a moment, she felt confused, fuzzy. The full moon cast a cold, white light through the open window, and a chilly breeze wafted inside, bringing with it the intoxicating smell of budding flowers, green grass and wet sand.

Quietly, she stared out the window at the garden she loved and tended to with great care. For some reason, the sight of the dark garden unsettled her and she deliberately turned her back on the window. It didn’t make her feel better. Her skin began to crawl, and she got the distinct feeling that someone was looking at her. Is that what had woken her? Was there someone in the garden, just waiting for the perfect time to invade their home? She spun around. In the bright moonlight, she could make out every tree, every shrub and flowerbed, but she didn’t see a person.

Feeling a little foolish, she turned back to her husband, who was still fast asleep. For a moment, she felt intense anger at him. How could he sleep so peacefully? Why did it always fall on her to make sure the family was okay, that the children weren’t somehow choking in their sleep or walking through the house unsupervised, just looking for a way to injure themselves? She pushed the feelings way, way down. “It’s a mother’s job,” she whispered.

Her husband stirred. “Whu?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “Go back to sleep.”

Within seconds, his breathing returned to normal, and she could see the even rise and fall of his chest. In the crib against the opposite wall, the baby stirred in his sleep and moaned. She tensed, waited for the cry, but it never came. Like her husband, the baby went right back to sleep, and though she couldn’t see him clearly, she could hear him snoring softly and couldn’t stop the smile.

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