“What was that about? Are you okay?” Jordan looked confused and concerned. I took a second and stared at the window for a few more moments, waiting for the man to reappear. I slowly turned back around in my seat and put my buckle on.
“Yeah, I am fine. Sorry, I just remembered there is a really good movie out in theatres that we will have to see,” I said trying to sound as calm as humanly possible after seeing my husband’s doppelganger.
“Okay, weirdo,” he said with a smirk. I could tell he was still confused and did not believe me. He was good about that though. He could always tell when I didn’t want to talk about something and at that point, he stopped prying. For that, I was thankful. I would hate to see his reaction when I told him what I saw. He would never believe me. No one would believe something that crazy.
That is what it was, crazy. It was just my imagination playing tricks on me after the nightmare I had. Jordan was right we need a break. All of this stress and worrying over the mortgage was obviously affecting me. Affecting me so much that I am starting to see things. And a day to relax with the man of my dreams, no pun intended, was exactly what I needed to relieve this stress. Once we get home, I will be as good as new.
The gravel crunched under the tires as Jordan drove down the path. White oak trees bridged ahead, casting a beautiful shadow tunnel. That was honestly my favorite part of the entire property. It was breathtakingly beautiful during the spring. The branches stretched across to the opposite tide of the road, almost like they were trying to connect to the one directly across from it. When the car hit the asphalt, I felt a huge weight lift off of my chest. I could breathe again. Getting out of the house was already starting to pay off and I could finally relax. I turned on the radio, sighed, and eased into my seat with a smile on my face.
We reached the movie theater and purchased our tickets to the latest horror movie that had come out. Horror was our favorite movie genre so it was only fitting. We had time to spare until our showing started so we decided to grab a bite to eat. Across the street from the movie was our go-to restaurant. There weren’t very many places to eat in our tiny town but even if there were, Robert’s Café would still be the place we would pick. We were seated and given menus, although that was pointless seeing that we got the same thing every time. I ordered the steak and potato dinner and Jordan ordered the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes.
We ate, laughed, and had a great time. After dinner we went to the movies and that’s when I realized that a scary movie was probably not the movie to watch to get my dream out of my head. The movie was about a possession of a man that, no matter how hard he fought against the demon, still succumbed to the darkness. He eventually died in the film, which made my anxiety worse. When the movie credits rolled, my stomach turned to butterflies. I realized I had to go back to the house. What would happen? Would I see him staring back at me through the window again?
We got back to the car after a walk that I tried to prolong as long as I could. But it was inevitable; we had to go home. The car ride was quiet. I could only guess that he was thinking of the movie or his leftovers he had in the back seat, but me, I was thinking of the terror that was growing every second closer to the house we got. The fear ripped a pit in my stomach that seemed to just get bigger and bigger.
As we pulled onto the gravel road, my heart started pounding and my forehead collected tiny beads of sweat. I bit my lip as we pulled up to the house. The house looked empty. No one stared at me through the guest room window. Maybe it had just all been in my head. Maybe I was too caught up in my dream that I began to hallucinate.
I took a deep breath and opened the car door. Jordan grabbed the to-go boxes and we headed for the door. I opened it up and was greeted by the cool air and fresh scent of linen. That had always been my favorite scent of air fresheners and candles to buy. It had always smelt clean and fresh to me.
I stepped inside. There were no lingering eyes watching, no creaking doors. I felt safe. I laughed out loud thinking to myself how silly I had been. I was afraid to come home because of a dream. It was an insanely ridiculous fear. I had lived here for nearly a month and never felt scared before then.
Jordan placed the boxes in the fridge and plopped himself down on the couch. I grabbed my book and sat beside him on the couch. He put on one of his shows he had been binge watching, like every night before. I got bored of watching television every night so I started reading. I had the end of summer to start really focusing on work. Being a teacher, it was nice having summers off.
When his show had ended, he turned the television off and decided to head to bed. I had only a few pages left before I had finished the chapter I was reading so I stayed to finish. I heard his footsteps as he climbed the stairs and reached the hallways. The footsteps got fainter as he reached the bedroom.
I continued reading my book. Just then, the smell of something rotten or dead hit me like a brick wall. I scrunched my face and put my shirt over my nose. I got up and had only taken a single step before the light flickered and burnt out.
“Don’t do this to yourself. It is just the light bulb. Jordan will fix it tomorrow,” I told myself. As I took another step toward the staircase, I heard another set of footsteps from across the room. My eyes widened and I sprinted up the stairs and jumped into bed apparently a little too fast. Jordan shot up and met my gaze.
“What on earth is up with you today?” He stroked my arm in attempt to calm me down. The fear of him laughing at me led me to the decision to not share my experience I just had. I shook my head lightly and lay down. I pulled the blankets over my head and squeezed my eyes shut. I heard him sigh and roll back over. I was afraid of looking beyond the edge of the comforter so I just laid there in silence. I was scared to hear the footsteps but the thought of having that nightmare again kept me awake.
Finally gaining the courage to look at the alarm clock next to the bed, I saw that it was nearly three in the morning. I knew that it was silly but I was terrified of being awake any longer because of the witching hour rumor. I curled up next to Jordan, feeling the heat from his back. The warmth must have done the trick because the next time I opened my eyes, I saw the light trying to creep its way into my comforter.
I didn’t feel the warmth of Jordan anymore. In fact, I had noticed I was the only one in bed. I took a deep breath and placed my feet on the floor. I walked down to the kitchen to see Jordan eating breakfast. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sipped it. We were both silent for a long while.
“You may want to check the sink or something. I smelled something awful last night before I went to sleep,” I said and walked out of the kitchen. I went out to the porch and sat on the stairs leading to the gravel. I watched the breeze run between the leaves, making them dance just a little. It was nice. I sipped more of my coffee and noticed the light shining through the branches to a tree just before the shadowed tree tunnel. Nature always calmed me down.
Moments later, I heard the door open and Jordan sat down next to me. Again, we sat in silence. I got up and went inside to put my empty mug in the sink. I was scared to say anything about the experiences I had been having after my dream and I think he was trying to give me enough space. Like any other time, he probably didn’t want to pry. He had the day off and would be returning to work in the morning. It was going to be a long day of silence if this routine keeps up. I wasn’t interested in telling him anything. I wasn’t interested in the looks and comments that would come from his mouth.
More than likely, I would get over this irrational fear of this house by the next couple of days. My eyes and ears will stop playing tricks on me so I found that telling him would be useless. It would only cause problems. If he tried joking around about it to lighten the mood, it was bound to upset me further.
“Have I done something wrong? You are upset. You think you can hide things from me but I have known you basically our entire lives. I know when something is wrong. If I have done something to upset you, you need to let me know so I can fix it.”
His voice came from behind me. I turned to see him in the doorway with his arms crossed. It had been clear he came outside to talk to me but I didn’t realize that he thought it had been about something he had done.
“Jordan, it isn’t you. I just… I don’t want to talk about it. I swear it isn’t you though. I will be okay. Just give me time,” I said.
Jordan walked to me slowly and pulled a strand of hair and places it behind me ear. His eyes were filled with concern and I looked down out of guilt. He pulled my chin up and kissed me and walked away. I loved his ability to understand when I need my space. He wasn’t a hovering boyfriend or husband. He wasn’t always this great. We have had to work to where we are today, just like every couple. But our trials and battles have led us to this day, happily in love.
He seemed to be so perfect. Maybe he was too good for me. He works so hard to give us the life we have. I felt extremely guilty for shutting him out now. I felt as if he deserved to know just to put his mind at ease.
As I made my way to the living room to tell him, I noticed I didn’t hear the television. I didn’t hear anything. I poked my head out of the front door, I saw him by the tree with the light shimmering through the branches that I had noticed before. He was on the phone.
I decided to just tell him when he came inside. It could be a phone call for work and I didn’t want to interrupt. But as I prepared myself to turn to the living room, I felt something brush against my shoulder. It was very light. It was more than a breeze but not exactly a hand brushing my back. Whatever it was, I wasn’t sticking around to see what it was.
I ran out the door and closed it lightly so I didn’t disturb the call. It was difficult to try to act so calm after something like that. My heart was racing again. I quietly walked down the steps and toward Jordan. His back was facing me and he was pacing. Something was wrong. I walked over to him and as he saw me, he murmured a few words and hung up the phone.
“Sorry for leaving like that. I had to make a call to the station.” He must have noticed my concern. I wasn’t sure if I had believed that entirely. He had no reason to lie to me but, like he had mentioned, he has known me most of our lives. I know when he is lying.
“Can I talk to you about what has me worked up? I don’t want secrets in our relationship,” I said. Maybe he would share who he had really been on the phone with if I shared my secret of being tormented by his doppelganger.