“I was hoping we could go grab a bite to eat or something, I need to be out, around people, and talk some things through.” says Marnie as she fiddles with her hair and looks off to the side. She is usually pulling at her hair, twirling it between her fingers, or twisting it up as if piling it into a bun. However, she almost always ends up with it looking just as it did before she started messing with it. “I don’t know, I’m just feeling blue and need to vent I suppose. Would you like to go to dinner? I’ll treat?”
“Actually, Lyla will be dining with me tonight,” states a voice in the dark. Marnie overreacts as she usually does and turns around as if she has been frightened half to death. Her arms go up in front of her for protection. She stands there, motionless without saying a word. Footsteps draw closer and closer until Crispin appears in the light looking very businesslike and extremely handsome in a tailor-made expensive suit and tie.
“Oh, my,” says Marnie in a breathy tone. “My, my,” she says as she turns back to look at Lyla giving her the eye as if Crispin is the only man she’s ever seen before. Immediately brightening her attitude Marnie stretches out her hand and heads in Crispin’s direction. She meets him halfway down the steps practically blocking his path to the porch. “And who might you be?” asks Marnie with a devious grin.
“Marnie, this is Crispin Duff, Crispin meet Marnie Jones,” and the two shake hands. “Oh I’m a hugger,” says Marnie as she reaches out and pulls Crispin into a bear hug. “Welcome to our humble town,” she states as she holds on to him then very slowly releases Crispin from her clutches. He remains very calm and professional. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Marnie.” he says. In her squealing tone Marnie says, “Ooh, I just love your accent! Scottish?”
“Irish, and thank you, I was born with it.” replies Crispin nonchalantly. Marnie throws her head back laughing in a ridiculously dramatic way as if this was the funniest thing she’s ever heard in her entire life. Anyone can see that her actions are very deliberate and over done. Crispin glances up the steps at Lyla, raises his eyebrows as if asking her for help, and says, “Shall we go Lyla?”
“Don’t be Penny, be anybody but Penny.” murmurs Lyla to herself as she steps to the door and turns the knob. As she’s pulling the door open she is also looking down and tucking loose strands of hair behind her ear. She swings the door open wide and standing there with a bouquet of fresh white lilies is Crispin Duff. He is wearing an expensive black suit with a crisp white dress shirt and a dark tie. His shoes are very shiny and clean and the scent of the lilies is breathtaking.
“Oh, Mr. Duff, I wasn’t expecting you.” states Lyla as she takes a small step back from the shock of it being him and not Penny. With broad shoulders and a warm smile, he is far better looking in person than his internet picture even displayed. She feels flush as embarrassment sets in. Here is her new employer, a very handsome and wealthy world traveler that seems to think she is the perfect person to trust with his web design and she is a total mess. Her hair is pulled back in a floppy ponytail, she’s in a ragged sweatshirt with no structure at all to the choice of color for her sloppy attire and she hasn’t a single bit of makeup on. Come to think of it, now she doesn’t remember if she even brushed her teeth yet this morning!
“By the look of shock on your face, I can tell.” states Crispin with a wide smile as he motions for her to take the flowers. She reaches out and as they make the exchange, his fingers brush against hers slightly. He leans in close to her as if trying to conceal what he is about to say, “It’s Crispin, remember?” Now that he has reminded her not to be so formal, he leans back and smiles at her again. His green eyes are absolutely beautiful and she finds it hard not to stare at them.
“Yes, I’m sorry Crispin,” says Lyla as she nervously smiles and looks at the flowers in her hand. She breathes in their fresh sweet scent “Oh they smell wonderful. Thank you so much for the lovely flowers, please come in.” She motions for him to enter the house. As he walks past her she fiddles with her hair tucking the loose strands away behind her ears as best she can hoping he doesn’t catch her. Oh how she wishes she had fixed herself up a bit this morning. Lyla quietly closes the front door and turns toward Crispin who is looking up at the staircase and still has his back to her. Quivering slightly, she says “You’ll have to excuse me, I wasn’t expecting company today and have been buried in my work, and…”
Crispin cuts her short by saying, “You have a lovely home, Lyla,” his voice is very soothing and calm. “And don’t worry; one of the perks of working from you abode is that you can be comfortable and successful without all the fuss.” He turns to face her and continues with “It’s quite refreshing to see someone glowing in their own natural beauty.”
The warm sun from the day begins to settle low on the horizon as the trickling of the ponds waterfall creates a soothing inviting sound. Smokey is sitting just inside the window watching for birds and squirrels as she keeps an eye on the yard like a queen would oversee her kingdom. Her grey hair blends in with the window screen and the darkness of the room behind her. The only obvious things that stand out are her yellow eyes and they are fixed on something at the back of the yard.
“It’s so relaxing here, with you.” says Lyla as she leans back in her chair stretching her arms high above her head. She slowly brings her arms down resting them in her lap as she and Marcus continue to talk about how things haven’t changed much in town or with the individuals that dwell there. Several minutes pass and after more moments of laughter that cool and low humidity feeling of evening begins to roll in. It’s time for Marcus to go home and as he stands up he offers to help clear the table. Before he can lift a finger, Lyla quickly tosses everything into the bag the sandwiches came in.
“I’ve got this,” Lyla sets the bag on the floor near her feet. “You go ahead and start for home, it’s getting late.” Says Lyla as she stays seated in her chair. Marcus kisses her on the top of her head and he walks through the backyard and out through the garden gate closing it tightly behind him.
Lyla grabs the bag of trash and blows out the candle that is sitting at the center of the table. She turns to go inside when something catches her eye. Was it movement or a flash of light? She’s not sure what it is that made her look but there is a very dark figure, a perfect silhouette of a man, standing in the opposite corner of the yard near the privacy fence.
“Oh, it’s so nice that you’ve come back!” says Penny as she smothers Lyla with a hug. Penny has on a sizeable silky pink shirt with large blossoms printed on it. It’s slightly oriental with a touch of Hawaiian flair. “We have got to plan a party!” says Penny as she starts jumping up and down like a little kid. Her dry, wild colored and layered hair bounces around her face like brittle stringy feathers.
Penny has this weird way of wiggling her tongue back and forth across her bottom lip in a snake like manner. Not only is this tick unattractive but when she gets overly excited she starts wringing her hands around each other along with slithering her tongue back and forth. It’s quite annoying to watch and she is now doing both at a rather fast pace.
“I know the best caterer in town.” says Penny as she points to herself. “Let me plan it, please?” squeals Penny as if this is all she has to do. She is clicking her fingernails to together as she holds her hands out in front of her. “You know I make the best desserts, even though I don’t eat sugar, everyone knows my desserts are the best!” Penny talks as if she eats healthier than the average person, but about every person in town has watched her devour large meals along with rich desserts. Thus her claims have been proven to be false as does the scale at the doctor’s office. It’s pretty clear that Penny didn’t get her five foot four inch frame to 260 pounds by skipping dessert.
When dealing with Marnie, you should never expect to tell your own story or give an opinion. She may asks questions and seem to be interested, but the look in her eye is a sure sign she is not listening. She interjects with something that usually has nothing to do with the current topic and in her mind her tale is far more interesting that than anything you could fathom. The conversation may start with you but will always end up focusing on her and it’s best to just stop talking. Marnie bends her neck to try and see the top of the curved staircase.
“You hiding someone up there?” she says with a wide grin as if implying Lyla has a man hidden in an upstairs bedroom. “Not quite, Marnie.” says Lyla, trying to be nice but also stand her ground to protect her own privacy. “I haven’t been able to get all the rooms put together yet and would rather not have you up there until it’s complete. Surly you can understand that.” Lyla grabs Marnie’s arm and directs her to the living room.
“I find it amazing you have all this furniture. Didn’t I hear somewhere that it came with the house?” questions Marnie. Lyla nods yes. “That is absolutely amazing!” says Marnie as she starts to wander off again to a different room. “Why do you think they left everything here? Oh, do you suppose it’s tainted in some way and they didn’t want to take a chance of moving the bad vibes with them?”
Lyla tips her head slightly and leans in closer to the computer screen. She is quite taken in by the photo of Crispin Duff even though it is a bit shaded and dark making it difficult to see him perfectly. He appears to be close to her age, mid thirties to lower forties with very short almost shaved hair. His face is strong in structure with a firm jaw line sporting a five o’clock shadow for a defined beard. She can’t help but be drawn in by his striking green eyes. They are roundish in shape, nothing interesting about that, but of a color she has never seen before. It’s like a person with piercing blue eyes but his are multi shades of green maybe even yellow. As Lyla tries to zoom in Smokey leaps onto her lap causing her to jump and this breaks her focus and concentration. Smokey begins to purr.
“Hey there pretty girl, take a look at this handsome guy. He looks like he might have all the answers, hum?” says Lyla as she turns Smokey so she is facing the screen. Immediately Smokey begins to wiggle around trying to get off Lyla’s lap. She then growls loudly, hisses and scratches Lyla’s leg as she jumps to the floor and scurry’s off in the direction of the foyer.
“Ouch Smokey! What’s your problem?” says Lyla as she jumps up to chase after the stout cat who is quickly heading up the stairs to the second floor. It’s amazing how fast those short fat little legs can carry such a stout body. Smokey disappears from sight as she runs down the second floor hall. Stopping a forth of the way up the staircase Lyla looks up and says “Okay, you win! I’ll never force you to review my work again!”
Another reason for Lyla to move back to her home town was because of her favorite people. She is thrilled to now be able to hook up with her friends face to face, most of all Marcus Olwen. It sure beats chatting on the phone, texting quick notes, or video chatting on the computer through the evening.
Marcus and Lyla have gotten along well from the first moment they met as young children and they have been best friends ever since. They would spend their summers riding bikes along back roads and dipping their feet in the cool waters of every brook they passed. As they grew older they supported each other through school and work and broken relationships. Lyla is intrigued by his art history and restoration work but her favorite pieces are the ones he creates. It’s as if a part of him stays with each painting or sculpture and his compassion for art freely flows out of each piece. Lyla finds his enthusiasm for the world contagious; to him it’s one big work in progress.
Marcus is very much the good looking boy next door. He has a kind heart and a very quick wit. His sandy brown hair is slightly curly and he doesn’t fuss over it as he styles it by running his hands through it roughly several times a day causing it to lie haphazardly in all directions. This technique wouldn’t work for everyone, but it very much matches to Marcus’ laidback style. He is supposed to drop by sometime today, said he has a piece of art to display in Lyla’s new home. Who could turn that down?
It’s getting late so Lyla locks the door for the night then walks to her home office to take one last look at her work email inbox. She notices yet another request from Mr. Crispin Duff. “Well Mr. Duff, you will be my top priority first thing in the morning.” she states as she shuts things down for the night. The house is cooling down and Lyla wants to grab a quick shower before bed. She follows Smokey upstairs to the bedroom, grabs her robe that is hanging on the bedpost, and walks into the bathroom. Smokey makes her way to the bed, jumps up then plops down at the foot of it and begins to drift off to sleep.
“Hum.” Says Lyla as she looks at her plump cat. “If when we die we reincarnate, I want to come back as a pampered house cat. What a life.” she says with a laugh. As if Smokey knows exactly how good she has it, she begins to purr louder than ever. The warm water of the shower feels good and helps relax the tired muscles that Lyla now realizes she hasn’t use in years. She steps out of the shower and wraps up in her warm white fuzzy bathrobe, gets her hair twisted up into a lime green towel, and brushes her teeth. Her face is flush from the steam that is hovering in the room and Lyla wipes her hand across the old antique mirror.
As Lyla is filling the cabinets and shelves with cups and plates she feels drawn to a little door that is just around the corner. It sets off from the kitchen in a small recess of the room with a door that leads to the basement as well as a threshold to the long hallway that runs from the foyer to the sunroom. For some reason Lyla’s eyes are drawn to the odd little door that seems to be begging for her attention. It is about three feet tall and she doesn’t recall seeing it when she did her final walkthrough before the purchase. She pulls another glass out of a packing box and runs a dry dish cloth over it to remove any dust that may have collected during the move. But again her focus goes back to the little pantry door. Since she is not able to stifle her curiosity, Lyla sets the glass on the granite countertop and walks over to the little door.
“Hum, this is really a funny place for a pantry, but what else could it possibly be?” She unlatches the lock and opens the door. To her surprise she sees a tall thin wooden ladder hooked to the wall. “What in the world is this?” As those words leave her lips she glances up into the closet to find that this is a way to access the attic. The light colored wooden rungs of the ladder grow darker as they ascend into the dimness of the space two floors above. “Well that’s quite handy; I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before in a home. Usually you get stuck crawling through a hole in the ceiling of a tight closet or something.” she mutters to herself as she waddles into the little area.
Lyla’s inquisitiveness is at a high as she enters the narrow passage and flips the switch on the wall. She can see that the attic is now dimly lit and she proceeds to climb to the top of the ladder all the way to the top where she steps onto a large landing. The attic space is vast and only part of it is finished with an unstained wooden floor. Off from this area she sees boards lying across beams veering off in various directions. The space feels muggy and damp and the summer rainstorm is even more intense here in the peaks of the house yet it feels solid and secure. She is surprised at how spacious this middle section is and the fact that it’s tall enough for her to stand straight up in it with room to spare. It doesn’t appear to have been used in the past, not even for storage, because there are no boxes or debris lying around.
Walking down the stairs Lyla looks around in amazement at how impressive the house is even in this dismal rainy lighting. She has uncovered much of the furnishings but several pieces are still draped in off white cloths that do not quite reach the ground. If she were a meek person she might find herself believing in ghost as the covers appear to be hovering several inches off the floor. But to the contrary, Lyla absolutely adores this place with its large slightly curved staircase. Actually, the staircase is her favorite feature of this well preserved home. It is incredibly grand and fills the generous two story foyer making an impressive statement to those who enter. At the base stands an enormous full length mirror that reaches from the baseboards to the ceiling and is several feet wide as it takes in an entire wall. It reflects the staircase beautifully creating a wonderful illusion of two sets of stairs instead of one. Hanging high above it all is a massive five tier chandelier that is not defined to any particular era. It is made of wood and iron with inlays of stained glass in various designs and colors. When lit it not only brightens with white light but casts a rainbow effect along the edges of the room as the light reflects and shines through the colored glass.
Today however, due to the lingering rainstorm, the house is somewhat bleak and the entire structure has a slightly creeping feeling to it. Lyla thinks that maybe she’s a bit touchy due to the rude awakening Smokey gave her a few minutes earlier not to mention the immense amount of wind and rain that is plummeting down on the house.
It has happened to you. You see someone you recognize from across a crowded room but once you get closer, you realize it’s not the person you thought it was. You’ve tapped on a friends shoulder to say hello but once they turn around you find they are a complete stranger. You’ve caught a glimpse of yourself in your peripheral vision when there was no chance it could have been a reflection. Are these instances a trick of the eye or a simple case of mistaken identity? Is it possible that something far more sinister is at play?
You may recognize the term Doppelganger. It refers to a double or look-alike of a living person and is known to be a harbinger of bad luck, illness, or death for anyone that sees their double or the double of a loved one. Irish folklore tells of a phantom they refer to as a FETCH for it fetches the souls of the living. Is it simply a tale of the superstitious? How would we know? What if there was indeed such a being and it has learned to manipulate it’s victims by utilizing the vast technologies of today? How many lives could it infiltrate, control, or take?
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