Conor was invited by Jordan, his brother, and Jordan’s friend, Everett, to go on a fishing trip with them out to sea. They would stay on an uninhabited island overnight. They brought along a tent and some supplies. The island was several miles from the mainland. It used to be used in the old days to house prisoners. Many a criminal had died on the island. In fact, there was a story – not true of course – that at night if you heard an owl screech rather than hoot, you would hear the rattle of prisoners’ chains as they began their nightly and murderous prowls.
The three lads did a bit of fishing, caught a couple of fish, and then moored on the island to set up camp. It didn’t take long; modern day tents are easy things to install.
The time came for the fish to be cooked for dinner. There was plenty of wood about, but oh dear! they had forgotten to bring any matches. Jordan and Everett volunteered to go to the mainland and return with matches. It should take only about an hour. They left. A little later a storm came up. Conor knew his brother and friend wouldn’t return in a rough sea. It was beginning to get dark and there was no food or light. There was nothing for it than to go to bed early.
Conor snuggled down in his sleeping bag. That was when he heard an owl screech. Was that a shape at the entrance to his tent?
I always sleep with the curtains of my bedroom window wide open. I like to fall asleep looking at the stars; not that I can see many stars because there’s a hill, and low on the horizon there is the reflection of the city street lights that brighten the night sky over the hill. Apart from that I’m pretty much in the country; on the city outskirts I suppose.
The window opens only a little bit – a couple of inches. I guess my bedroom might have been a children’s bedroom when the previous owners lived here and they didn’t want things to open too wide. Of course by yanking the window it would be easy enough to break the bit that prevents the window from opening wide. That might be handy if there was an emergency. Anyway, I’m happy to have the window slightly ajar to let in air and keep the criminals out! I live on my own.
Last night there was a very clear sky with no moon and I could see a few stars clearly, including one that was extremely bright and I presume it was the planet Venus or something. When I woke this morning the window had been yanked open from the outside and there were footprints of mud on the window sill. Someone had clearly entered.
Of course I was pretty terrified and wasn’t that keen to go into other parts of the house in case I encountered something dangerous. But I couldn’t stand in my bedroom all day so I got dressed and climbed out the window into the garden.
I’d always liked the painting Aunt Josephine had on her dining room wall. I don’t know why I liked it, but I did. It was simply a portrait of an unnamed woman. It was painted in oils, waist up. Her eyes stared out directly into the room. I was delighted when I was left the painting in Aunt Josephine’s will.
I too hung it on my dining room wall. It was on a side wall behind where the head of the table would sit – not that we followed such a custom. We sat where we liked. On one of the longer walls was the fire place, and on the wall opposite the fireplace was an expansive window. The lady of the painting overlooked the table; the fireplace to her right; the window to her left. It was as if the portrait had been painted especially for the room.
Not long after I had hung the painting, my sister visited. She knew I had been given the painting. Where is it?
“It’s in the dining room,” I said. “She overlooks the table.”
We went there, and the lady’s eyes were no longer looking straight ahead. She was looking out the window. It was creepy.
I soon took the painting down. I didn’t like to store it in the attic for who knows if it would go bump in the night. It was possessed. I burnt it in the fire. Bit by bit. I remember especially burning the piece with the eyes.
That evening, when we sat down to eat, the picture was back up. Entire. Complete. The eyes were staring steadfast and cold at the fireplace. And her lips had a smile that wasn’t there before.