First closing her eyes; Shelby steeled her mind as best she could, then stood up and looked at the vanity mirror, followed by the mirror on the opposite wall. She had lived with Gabriel for four years and until now hadn’t noticed this one thing, something very unsettling. The mirror over the bathroom sink reflected the image from the mirror on the opposite wall, which reflected the image from the mirror in the hallway outside of the bathroom. The three mirrors worked together perfectly to reflect from the hallway into the bathroom, or vise versa. As she looked down the hallway towards the living room, once again the line of sight ended with a large mirror. A theory began to take form.
The reflection from the mirror in the living room gave merit to her hypothesis, that using the proper line of sight from the front yard, someone would be able to peer through the living room window towards the large hanging mirror and be able to see down the hallway and into the bathroom. Shelby couldn’t help but wonder if this might explain the shadowy movements that she’d been catching from the corner of her eye; and her overwhelming sense of not being alone, particularly after sunset when the mirrors would be most effective.
Calculating that only a stalker would find pleasure in such a hobby, the young woman shrugged off several possible nasty possibilities, each more disturbing than the first. Not wanting to think about such dark and unclean things any longer, she took a deep breath and sat back down on to the lid of the toilet, carefully unrolled a small puffy pile of toilet paper, then proceeded to blow her nose several times in the most ladylike fashion. She’d been having problems with nose bleeds since last year, and immediately inspected the tissue for blood. At times she feared that she might be dying, or something much worse; dying slowly with absolutely nobody left to care for her.
Thoughts of being completely alone, and living within a world of lies and betrayal seemed to immediately usher in the cause of the young woman’s pain and suffering.
Shelby gasped and nearly jumped from her seat when her cellphone buzzed in the bedroom. She ran across the hallway and looked at the caller information: Gabriel Salas pulsed on the screen. The room turned cold and began to spin once more, forcing the young woman to brace herself with her left hand against the edge of the bed. Momentarily, Shelby was sure that she would throw up, right there on Gabriel’s side of the bed; a thought that brought a small grin to her thin pale face. She didn’t need to answer the call to know exactly what Gabriel would ask her: where are you and what are you doing?
“Damnit! Che cazzo!”
Shelby had unintentionally allowed the clock to run down, and her quiet time was over.
“Times up…I can do this.”
Shelby cleared her throat.
Her weak and timid voice squeaked, barely audible through her cellphone. In contrast, Gabriel’s loud voice seemed to cut right through her, his words inflicting more than enough damage to keep her in a place of helplessness.
“Where are you…what are you doing?”
Shelby closed her eyes, breathed deeply, then opened them once more very slowly. In her mind, she had heard Gabriel say, “Where are you…what are you doing…you stupid…little…bitch!” Her brief sense of hope crashed, falling far out of reach.
She answered, “I’m here in the house Gabe.”
Sniffling terribly, Shelby considered running back to the bathroom for more tissue paper but her feet would not cooperate. Out of options, she grabbed one of the dirty shirts from the floor under her right foot, held it up to make sure that it was one of her boyfriend’s shirts, grinned, then used it to blow her nose.
“Nobody’s there…just you right…why are you sniffling?”
Shelby could hear the tension in Gabriel’s voice, and her raging fear drove her suddenly from his side of the bed. She looked around, halfway expecting the man to jump out of the closet, waving his arms like a madman, screaming at her for not sitting and obeying like a good dog. Holding her cellphone with her left hand, she ran her right hand over her head, slowly pulling her hair back behind her left ear so that she would be able to hear Gabriel’s next verbal attack.
Shelby answered, “I’m all alone.”
As Shelby said these words, her dark reality smashed into her mind. She heard a loud pop and felt the accompanying sinus pressure as her head filled up with fluid once more, forcing her to quickly inhale through her mouth as tears streaked down from each of her eyes; now bright green like the cold Atlantic Ocean.
She spoke again, “The kids are still at your mother’s…and…and I think I’m catching a cold.”
Shelby wiped her tears and grimaced, hating herself for making such a stupid mistake. Knowing it was coming, she momentarily held the phone towards the ceiling and braced for the inevitable.
“Damnit,” she whispered.
Shelby placed the cellphone back to her left ear just in time to hear his cruel words. She knew what was coming, something cold and heartless from a stranger; not the same man who used to proclaim his love for her.
“You’re fucking sick again…what the fuck Shelby you’re always sick…what’s wrong with you…why…why…why…why do I stay with you Shelby….huh…can you tell me why?” Gabriel’s words were cold and matter of fact.