Reunion

He sat up straight.
The lights of the cafe had been turned off. He smiled. Soon he would see her again.

It had been a long while since he had last laid eyes on her. fidgeting in anticipation, the tired man leant forward. Peering towards the dark cafe.
The bell jingled as the door opened. A small group exited. The last of the group locking the door behind them. They exchanged their goodbyes and parted company. He gasped. There she was. He ran a gruff hand through his silver hair. Lit up by a street lamp, he got a clear view of her. She looked exactly the same. Her hair shimmering in the moonlight.
Soon they would be reunited
It had taken him so long to find her.
He was so close now.
He stood up, wincing. He’d forgotten he wasn’t a young man anymore.
Making sure to keep his distance, he set off after her. Taking advantage of the shadows to keep himself hidden.
He watched her as she walked up ahead, looking for any sign that she was aware of his presence.
She walked at a steady pace.
He followed her down doth twisting streets until she slowed down as they approached a small cottage at the end of a lane sparsely populated by houses.
He darted behind a tree partway down the lane as he watched her dig through her handbag for her key.
He was so close.
He missed her terribly.
The front door swung shut. A warm glow filled the cottage, spreading from room to room.
The man behind the tree took a deep breath. It was time: His waiting was almost over.
He crept towards the cottage. The hall light was still on. The men headed around the back.
The lock on the back door was ridiculously inadequate. It took less than a minute.
Cautiously he pushed open the door. A
darkened kitchen greeted him. He gently closed the door behind him.
A gas oven. Good. that would be useful.
A short time later, the man left the kitchen. He’s breathing slow and steady. Now that the moment had arrived, a Sense of calm enveloped him. Not long now.
There she was. In her bed.
The covers wrapped around her.
He smiled, looking forward to their reunion.
Reaching the bed he raised his arm, an object grasped tightly in his hand. As he moved towards the bed, the light from a street lamp outside briefly illuminating the item in his hand.
A knife.
His other hand reached out to pull back the quilt. He yanked it back.
Suddenly a flash of white hot pain spread across his back. He spasmed.
As his brain rushed to process the pain in his back, it also registered that under the quilt lay pillows. A child’s ruse.
“Did you really think I didn’t notice you following me? Feel you watching me?”
He grimaced as the silky voice spoke.
The man turned around to face her.
Her face lit up with recognition “You” she breathed. A smile
filling her face.
“I always hoped we’d meet again. It’s been years. I haven’t seen you since?”
“You killed the love of my life and stole her skin.”
The creature wearing his dead wife’s face laughed.
He shuddered. It was her laugh.
The monster had stolen his beloved’s laugh.
The man gasped as a tear ran down his cheek.

“So you came here for revenge?”
That laugh again. Her laugh.
He reached into his pocket.
Absentmindedly wondering where he’d put his knife. He must have dropped it.
Ah well. He didn’t need it. Not now.
He grasped the item, the cold surface a shock, a contrast to the burning pain in his back.
Lifting his head, he forced himself to look at this creature. The last image he wanted to see as he died would be his wife’s face.
“I’m coming my love.”
With a smile, he pulled the lighter from his pocket.
The creature’s face filled with understanding as it lunged towards him.
It wasn’t quick enough.
The explosion levelled the house and took out a few street lamps.
The rescue services found the charred remains of a male whilst searching the rubble. As well as, what appeared to be, a burnt pile of flesh.

A New Home

She put the box down with a thump. Wiping her forehead with the back of her hand.
Finally.
The last of her belongings.
Of all the days for her to move in, of course the bloody lift would be broken.
She glanced at her mifit, well, at least she’d reached her step count.
The young woman shut the front door and surveyed her new home.
Right, first things first, a drink. Having spent the last two hours carrying all of her belongings up eight flights of stairs, she was thoroughly dehydrated.
The man with the van declined to help with the carrying, and he charged by the hour.
Now, which box were the glasses in?
Ah, yes. The one labelled crockery in clear, black marker. Good job past me.
Removing a box cutter from her back pocket, she sliced through the packing tape.
Having recovered a glass, she filled it from the kitchen tap and took a refreshing sip. Which soon turned into great gulps.
Much better.
Bzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz
“Shit, where’s that bloody phone?” following the buzzing sound, she found
it in her backpack.
Turning on her headphones, the young woman answered the call.
“Hello sweetheart, it’s Mum.”
Eye rolling. “Yes, I know Mum, I’m somewhat familiar with your voice”
“Ha, ha, very funny Gwen. Look, I just called to see how moving day was going. Sorry again I couldn’t be there.”,
“It’s fine, I’ve carried all the boxes up, just the unpacking left now.”
“You’ve not even unpacked yet? What have you been doing? I see your time management skills haven’t improved.”
“Right, well I did have to do it by myself Mum. Anyway got to go. Don’t want to fall behind schedule. Bye Mum.”
“Oh, bye Sweet…”
Gwen rolled her eyes again taking great pleasure in ending the call.
She opened her music playlist, selected ‘Hamilton’ then got to work.

* * *

Which a large sigh, Gwen sat down on her sofa, glass of wine in hand.
Done.
Everything was unpacked and put away in its new home.
Finally. She had a home. It wasn’t grand, or even particularly large, but it was hers.

Or so she thought.

* * *

Gwen woke up suddenly. The room was pitch black. She blinked blearily. Her eyes slowly adjusting to the lack of light.
She could soon make out the dark shape of her television, and the doorway to her bedroom.
As the fog of sleep cleared, Gwen became aware of a faint scratching
sound.
She groped for the chain on her corner lamp, relieved for the dim glow of the energy saving bulb.
Gwen paused. Gathering her bearings.
She must have fallen asleep on the sofa.
The clock on the wall told her it was 1am. What had woken her?
Screeee
Oh, right. The scratching. It seemed to be coming for her bedroom. Probably a tree branch on the window.
Well she may as well head in there anyway. Her bed was definitely preferable to the sofa.
Gwen turned on her bedroom light, intending to then switch off the lamp. However something caught her eye.
Her jewelry mirror.
There was…something odd about the reflection.
She laughed at herself and rubbed her eyes. Clearly some part of her brain was still asleep.
Turning around to get ready for bed, Gwen paused. The scratching was back. Funny, she hadn’t even noticed it had stopped.
Wait, it wasn’t coming from the window. It, bizarrely, seemed to be originating from her mirror.
Even took a deep breath and turned back around, towards the sound.
She looked at the mirror, and saw, herself. Instead of turning back to her bed, Gwen continued looking at her reflection. Something was off, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
Holding up her hand, Gwen waved at her reflection. Unsurprisingly it mimicked her action. She released a nervous giggle. This was ridiculous.
Dropping her hand to her side Gwen shrugged. She really needed to sleep. Changing into her pyjamas, Gwen settled into bed.
As she reached up to turn off the light, Gwen came to a terrifying realisation.
Her reflection.
It was still waving. A large grin on its face.