Daily Writing Prompt—CLOAKED
It was our third day on the block and we’d met everyone except the neighbors directly across the street. We had no drapes, nor had we put up newspaper over our open window. Our lives and our activities were open for all to view, and it was remarkable how many times we walked across the living room to get to the kitchen.
On each trip to the fridge, I’d look out of the huge window, but only saw a lone car driving down the quiet street. The only other action was from the tree branches waving and bending in the light, sending shadows across the pavement and the front of the house across the street. There was never any movement from inside or outside the house.
As garbage day came, there were no cans standing in the driveway, shrouding the house even deeper in mystery. Neighbors assured us that a family lived there. They’d seen them once.
“How long have you lived here?” I asked.
“Five years,” she said.
“And you’ve seen them once.”
“They just keep to themselves,” my neighbor said and chuckled.
My kids noticed it first—a weak line of yellow light that leaked from the split in the drapes of their picture window. A half moon window sat atop the larger window, but it remained dark. Where was the small light coming from?
“From the coffin, Mom. Everybody knows that when Dracula raises his coffin lid, a small light comes on,” my son teased.
The kids began to call our mystery neighbor Dracula. Weeks passed and there were no visitors, nor were there deliveries.
Then, it snowed. The storm was so intense that three- foot drifts lay intermittently across my patio, causing me to take the dog out the front way. As I stood outside in the cold darkness waiting for the dog to do his business, the door to the house across from me creaked open. No light was emitted and I couldn’t really see, but it sure sounded as if a door had opened.
My son came out to relieve me in the cold.
“He’s slow tonight,” he said about the dog.
Usually, on a night as cold as this, the dog would just do his business and get back inside.
“Something’s happening across the street,” I whispered. “A door creaked open and then I heard scraping sounds.”
I didn’t want to be overheard, but my son yelled out, “Really?”
“I hear it” he said. “Dracula is trying to shovel his snow.”
“He’s not going to speak?” I fussed.
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“I’m going over there,” I said.
“Why?” my son asked.
“Because it’s neighborly.”
I gave him the leash and stumped right across the street, snow sloshing around my boots and cold air shooting up to my butt with every step. I wasn’t dressed for this, I thought.
The house, shrouded in mystery and cloaked in darkness, sat behind tall bushes. Why would the neighbor shovel without turning on so much as a porch light? I peered through the dark trying to project my night vision, but night vision failed me. I could see no one. I looked back and could no longer see my son as the bushes hid a view of the street. I hoped that he still saw me.
“Good evening,” a deep baritone voice said quietly from behind me.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m the neighbor across the street,” I said, too loudly.
I turned, but all I could see was a hulking form wrapped in layers of dark wool—its face cloaked in cover.
“Would you like to come in?”