Emilie is letting me close her story for now, but she reserves the right to say more before the month is over. I agreed because, well, she intimidates me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this discovery writing exercise. I didn’t know that Emilie existed before I typed her first words. I had no clue where she planned to lead me or what would happen next. I still don’t. I certainly had no idea how things would end up.

Now, I’m off to finish what I intended to write before Emilie introduced herself with a whack of her cane against my shin. Emilie, I hope you approve. If not, I’m sure you’ll let me know.

(Lesson Learned: Don’t let expectations of a preconceived final product get in the way of creating something unintended and surprising, if only to yourself.)

.   –   .   –   .  

Emilie and the Strange Familiar

.   .   .

Three years later…

One night, in the middle of its deepest part, the shadow returned to the renovated old house in the form of a familiar scent. The shadow took a silent tour of the house, getting acquainted with new rooms and re-acquainted with some familiar spaces.

The shadow filled the house with the scent of nostalgia. Downstairs, the shadow found a new human home in the form of a male body asleep on a sofa in front of a glowing television screen. The shadow entered through the body’s nostrils and chose to settle somewhere in the lungs.

The body awoke, stood and like a gentleman, turned off the television. The body then walked to the kitchen to boil water. The body chose a nice cup and saucer from the cabinet, and, after some consideration of flavors, a tea bag was selected and placed in the cup.

The body poured hot water in the cup, then placed the steaming cup with saucer on the new counter top, all the while working silently in the newly renovated kitchen, with imported tile, glass, stone, and stainless steel.

The body placed a neatly folded cloth napkin at the saucer’s edge, then sat in the darkness and waited. The shadow companion waited inside to be rediscovered, found again, found this time by a new homeowner, someone with a fondness for found objects like himself, like old bottles releasing new scents.

The shadow companion investigated all available space inside, and became so comfortable and at peace in the space, so at home there, that the body’s heart rate began to drop.

The house announced with a series of pops and creaks along the ceiling, that someone was running at full sprint down the upstairs hall. The sounds continued the length of the hallway and down the stairs.

“Dave! Dave! I’ve been up all night plundering! Look what I found in the attic!” Susan hesitated when she reached the landing. She expected to see her new husband on the couch, but she found the room empty, quiet and dark. Initially, Susan thought the strong scent she detected originated from what she carried, but the first floor was already filled with it.

In the kitchen, the Dave’s heart dropped to an occasional beat, as the shadow companion became increasingly comfortable inside his host. Susan walked to the kitchen entryway.

“Dave? Are you in there?” Out of politeness, the shadow companion waited in silence. Experience had taught that humans were easily startled, and needed a few seconds to compose themselves upon their first shadow meeting.

Susan’s free hand reached for a place inside the kitchen doorway. The light switch was exactly where she expected it to be. “Dave?”

Dave’s head tilted slightly to one side, both eyes closed. An expression of peace was upon his face. The corners of Dave’s mouth turned up, forming a subtle grin. Dave’s chest had ceased its rhythmic rising and falling. The shadow companion’s lifeless host wore a shirt with the embroidered title of “Estate Manager, Real States Auction” above the pocket.

“Dave? Why are you in the dark? Look! I found more memories! How much would you have charged me if I had carried these antique and very collectible items out of this old house instead of a bottle of cologne that day!” Susan waved a collection of items in front of Dave’s face like the climax of a successful magic trick.

“Dave? What’s wrong?”

The shadow companion had yet to fully understand how humans worked, and why things like heart rate, breathing and blood flow made such a difference.

The shadow companion tried to introduce himself, but the words came out, not as words, but as an exhalation of stale air trapped deep within Dave’s lungs. The kitchen filled with the same scent that had drawn Susan to the old house, and to Dave, three years earlier.

Susan let go, and a collection of notebooks, sketches, letters and a few old photographs landed on her bare feet, cold against the new tile. She stared at the steam rising from the cup of tea.

The shadow companion hoped it would be understood that the tea was not for himself, but for Susan in her time of need. He was, after all, the gentleman he was believed to be. Emilie had made sure of that.

– The End –

– Sort of –

– For Now –

–   .   –   .   –