Seven months from the first time it happened, Kelly shifted in her seat, expecting it. The first time, it was fast, fleeting. From between the shutters of her bedroom window, it seeped in like the rolling blue smoke from the end of a cigarette. She blamed it on the old house. She blamed it on an overactive, unmedicated imagination. She blamed it on her father.
Twice since then, it came back. The second time it was in her bedroom again. Like a sly little fox, it crept in once more through the painted shutters. It snuck in unchecked, past the dresser and to the bedside. It waited, almost perching – waiting. She sank. Silently and always inhaling more than letting out with each breath. Eyebrows switching from angry arrows to worried arcs before she flipped to her side, staring at that point in the wall. A little dimple of an old, since-spackled nail hole from the previous tennant. Just imperfect enough to cast a shadow in the evening, allowing Kelly to stare, blinking, breathing while it waited. Eventually, it would leave.
It's latest appearance was just as she'd left the house. As the side door clicked shut behind her, Kelly slid the key into it's home and paused. Was it there, just looking?
Through the iced half-window, there was movement, or at least the very slight shift in the faded, blurred inside of the house. Kelly moved her head slightly from left to right like a rat judging it's leap, focusing hard but seeing nothing. She removed the key slowly and relaxed her shoulders. She tucked a slice of hair behind her ear and moved away from the door. She knew.
This time, it crossed the threshold. In public now, in front of everyone. She sat there in the food court, stunned. A half eaten cold-cut in her left hand, Kelly felt alone and confused. It wasn't supposed to come looking for her, though she'd never thought she'd be found in the first place. Kelly inhaled her last, deep breath of filtered mall air. She rested her hand on the red plastic tray and waited for it to arrive.
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