In the dark

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Katina opened the curtains of her bedroom, letting in what little light there was from the outside. It was enough to let her find some clean clothes and get changed without falling over anything, and for that she was grateful. The familiar settings, pale yellow walls and white shelves full of books, were shadowed just enough to make the room look chilly and unwelcoming.

Stripping out of her soggy clothes, Katina draped them over the laundry hamper. She’d have to remember to put them in the shower to dry so that they didn’t leave a puddle on her floor. Redressing in clean clothes, she took a moment to check herself in the cheap mirror she had mounted on the back of her bedroom door. 

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” the girl sighed.

Turning back to her chore, she grabbed her track bag and started throwing clothes inside. Usually, she would have taken the time to make sure they were folded, but today she didn’t care. Once the clothes were packed, she turned her attention to the books on her desk and shelves.

Grabbing a thick journal and an even thicker book that she had been reading over the previous week, Katina set them in her bag as well. She picked up a picture frame from her night stand, looking down at the smiling faces of her mother and father. Katina paused, staring at her parents.

She removed the photograph from its frame, putting it in between the pages of her journal.

“Glenn? Are you done?” Katina started down the hallway. The bathroom door was shut. She couldn’t see any light under the door, but knowing that he was only using a candle, she didn’t figure she’d see any significant light.  She knocked on the door.

“You in there?” Opening the door, Katina was surprised not to find any candlelight. Glenn wasn’t in the bathroom. His wet towel was sitting in a lump on the counter. “Glenn? Where’d you go?”

“I’m in here,” Glenn stuck his head out of the small room that Katina had told him that she used for her ‘stuff’. “What’s all this?”

Katina hurried down the hallway, pushing the door the rest of the way open. Glenn was standing in the middle of wall-to-wall book shelves. In front of the small window was a little lounge chair. It wasn’t the library of her own books that Katina had been bothered by. It was the fact that Glenn was browsing over her collection of photographs and newspaper clippings. They all featured strange and unusual reports, including some of the most recent newspaper reports. All of Katina’s friends knew that she liked to read about unearthly things, but Glenn was the only one of her friends who knew how obsessive she could be over the supernatural. She wasn’t so sure she wanted him to know just how obsessed she was.

“A hobby,” She snapped. “Let’s go down and get the hurricane lamp out of the kitchen and…”

“I’m a hobby?” Glenn turned around, holding a picture of him in his hockey jersey from the junior yearbook.

Choking on her words, Katina turned colours in the cloudy afternoon light.  The candle that she had given Glenn was casting just enough light on her face that he could clearly see her expression changing.

“You… It’s… You’re my friend, you idiot. Of course I’ve got a picture of you!” Katina was shaking. If she had been embarrassed over keeping so much paraphernalia regarding the supernatural, she was prepared to die over the fact that Glenn had inadvertently stumbled over the picture that she kept of him. “Don’t think so highly of yourself.” She turned on her heel, stomping down the hall and down the stairs in the dark.

Mildly surprised, but also sort of pleased over the flustered reaction of his friend, Glenn set the photograph back on the shelf. He shook his head, glad that he had been able to find something to smile about. Maybe she had just kept the picture there because she was his friend, but there hadn’t been any other pictures of friends or school peers in the little room. But Glenn was smart enough to know not to push the topic.

“Hey,” He started down the stairs. “What was with all the supernatural stuff?” He stepped into the kitchen as Katina was lighting another candle. “I mean, why are you so embarrassed over it? I watch you read four or five books on that kind of stuff every week. It’s not a big deal.”

Katina didn’t look back to Glenn. She opened the pantry door, stepping inside.

“I told you, it’s a hobby.” She was silent as she dug through shelves to find the lamp she was looking for.

“So? I like to collect those mini puzzles out of…”

“It’s a weird hobby, Glenn.” Katina came out of the pantry, carrying the hurricane lamp and a small grocery bag full of emergency candles. “Most of my girlfriends have hobbies in sports or collecting little ponies or… Normal stuff. Being into the paranormal isn’t…” She sighed. “Forget it.”

“It’s not weird,” Glenn assured his friend. “Being so defensive over it is, though.”

Katina said nothing as she opened a cabinet and started pulling down canned food items. She pointed to the refrigerator. “If there’s anything you like in there, you can have it.”

“If you leave it closed, the food will keep. You know that, right?”

Katina wanted to argue with Glenn that she didn’t think the power would come back on, but there was still no way to be certain of her private theories. Shrugging her shoulders, she went back to taking non-perishable items out of the cupboard.

Glenn hadn’t missed her strange behaviour. He folded his arms, leaning against the counter. Huffing, he put his head back until it reached the cabinets above. He stared at the dark pot-lights in the ceiling.

“Hey, Kat?”

“What?” She tried not to sound terse.

“You don’t have to be scared, y’know.”

Hand on a box of crackers, Katina stopped. She thought about the words, tumbling them around in her mind. He was right; she didn’t have to be scared.  And logically speaking, there was no reason to be afraid of the power going out. Or the cellphones not working. Or cars suddenly stalling out. Individually, they were all three easily written off as incidents.

It was all them in combination that frightened the teen.

"Yeah," she mumbled. "I know."

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