Thursday, August 11, 2005


He woke up with a jolt, sat up on the couch and looked around. The phone was screaming in the background and it reminded him of his mother in-law‘s shrill voice when she was complaining about something…..which was often. The sun had gone down and he could see the dark shapes of the trees framed by moonlight outside the living room window. They appeared to beckon him as they danced in unison to the gently blowing wind. There was something eerily disturbing about them but he couldn’t quite put his finger on. The way the streaks of moonlight were...

“Riiiiiiiiing”, the phone screamed again cutting through his thoughts like a sharp dagger.

“I’ll get it”, he yelled swinging his legs from the couch and sliding them into the slippers on the rug. He stood up and hurried towards the phone on the stand by the wall. Just as he was about to pick it up something caught his attention. All the lights in the house were turned off! He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck start to prickle and a strong sense of foreboding and horror came over him. Somewhere in the distance a dog barked, the low hollow sound echoing through the trees around the house. Something was wrong. He could smell it in the damp air that suddenly floated through his nostrils. Beneath that musty smell there seemed to be a richer, more salty scent that was cloaked by the dampness that he'd smelled before but couldn’t quite place. Oh yes, something was deathly wrong.

From his position at the bottom of the staircase, he could see the half opened doors to his bedroom and his daughter’s bedroom. With every ounce of determination he could muster, he placed his right foot on the first stair which creaked in agony. His mind was spinning and he felt dizzy. He took his other foot and placed it on the next stair. He felt as if he was walking in quick sand, sinking deeper with every step. Right foot. He had to get up there even though every nerve in his body pleaded for him to turn and run the other way. Left foot. He swallowed hard and could taste the acrid sting of fear in his mouth. Right. The sound of his steps reverberating around the house. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left!

He stopped at the top of the staircase and listened. He realized that the phone was no longer ringing. The silence was so thick that he thought if he reached out he could part it with his hands. Their bedroom lay to the left and he now turned and headed towards it. He pushed it open and the door swung smoothly to reveal complete darkness. He carefully took a step inside the room, his keen ears listening for any sign of danger. The darkness in the room seemed to first hug him then cover him as he stepped deeper into the room. He stopped and stretched his hand blindly reaching for the light switch!

His pupils contracted quickly as they were hit by the light and he reflexively closed his eyes. He slowly peered through squinted eyes giving his eyes time to adjust to the brightened room. An image on the floor gradually came into focus and he realized it was his daughter’s blanket.He stood transfixed for a moment wondering what the blanket would be doing on the floor then his eye caught a glint. His gaze started moving up towards the bed and then suddenly stopped. He blinked once then he blinked again his mind refusing to accept what he was seeing.

The motionless figure of his wife lay in the middle of the king sized bed, a knife sticking out of a huge red patch in the middle. He put his hand in his mouth to stifle the scream that he could feel coming up from the pit of his stomach and bit down hard. He felt the skin give way as his teeth sank into the soft flesh between his thumb and his index finger. His mind sluggishly registered the pain, bubbling up to his consciousness as if someone was screaming under water. He tasted the blood and numbly took his hand out his mouth and looked at it. It was covered in blood. Caked blood. He looked at his other hand and saw that it too was covered in dried blood.

"What the...," he started to say. His mind was reeling. This couldn’t be happening. What had he done! He noticed that his hands were now trembling and he couldn’t remember when they had started. He turned to his left, everything seeming surreal, every movement as if in slow motion. As he turned, he caught a glimpse of his face in the closet mirror. He was smiling……!

Monday, August 08, 2005

The smile

I was sitting at my desk at work when this random lady walked by and flashed one of the most brilliant, genuine, affectionate smiles I have ever seen. I could tell you her race, but that would be besides the point. I could tell you her approximate age, but that not necessary. I could tell you whether she was pretty, tall or short, fat or slim………but none of that matters. All that matters is that she smiled. No wait, she smiiiiiiiiiled! I was having what was turning out to be a lousy day - but that was all before the smile. It wasn’t one of those I’m-just-being-polite smiles, this was a real, 100%, no water added smile that warmed my heart.
Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing” .
I didn’t know what she’d meant till today. I mean I knew and understood the words but I had never really felt the full meaning like she had described. It was like a window peering over a garden in which grew every possible nice thing. And for a moment I gazed through that window. For all I know she was having a bad day too, but for that moment in time she reminded me of all that was good in this world. So what if my car broke down? So what if I have a couple of overdue bills? So what if I’m stuck at this desk staring at the computer for the next 10 hours? She smiled at me – but more importantly, I smiled back.