You arrive home with your suit jacket draped over a shoulder and suitcase in tow. Your house has a gate and circular driveway. There’s a fountain in the centre island with dragons spouting water into cascading bowls.
It’s a clear autumn night and you live in a mansion. Old Victorian, mortar and stone. Vines run up the south wing. The moon is full and a few black serpentine clouds slither across the silent sky.
As you look at your house, you’re silhouetted because all of the lights should be off. You’ve been gone for days – away on business – and felt safe enough to leave the house without the false impression that someone was home.
Because in the end, does it matter?
But you’re silhouetted by a single light. Second story tower window. When you left, all lights were turned off. Now one is on.
Something inside of you stirs, not because you’re afraid, but because you’ve been waiting for this night your entire life. Someone has invaded your home and a fight to the death is imminent.
You know who awaits you, even though you’ve never met. Greasy black hair, featureless face, gray jumpsuit. It’s always been like this. Whenever you thought of someone in your home, this is who you imagined. What does it mean?
It’s anger towards feeling faceless. It’s disgust towards cowardice. It’s contempt for the unkempt. The way you’ve always imagined it, they knew you’d be coming home and they stayed – waiting. They know the game as well.
When you open the doors the house is cool, bordering on cold. This is to be expected. You’ve been away. Even though you already know where the confrontation will take place, you walk quietly through the hallways and kitchen because you don’t discount an ambush. It won’t happen that way, but you take comfort in thinking that it might.
Suddenly your life has meaning.
Suddenly your life has purpose.
You’ve only ever been silhouetted, but today you walk towards the light. A single light in the lone tower. Your tower. Your house. Your life.
You clench your knuckles but you already know how this will end.
You’ve navigated through the darkness your entire existence and all of the emotional instability, fearful thoughts, and lackluster love affairs have brought you to one moment. So you take another step, unclench your knuckles, and define the ending.
W.T. Paterson is a Chicago writer whose recent work can be seen in Maudlin House, Whispers from the Past, and Procyon Press’ Anthology. Check out his novel Dark Satellites due out in early 2015 and send him a tweet @WTPaterson.