Annie had lived on the small island for years. She loved it here. Untouched 100 year old forest surrounded her home. Their homes. In total 500 homes dotted the island. Everyone knew everyone’s business. It was a given.
Her closest neighbour was a half mile away; elderly cranky, tough widow Laferty. Having made an effort to get to know her, Annie knew the outer shell covered a gentle soul that shone brightly the more you knew her.
Foggy weather was common, expected, usual for this time of year. Today however, as she gazed out over the ocean and watched the fog roll toward them, she felt a difference. It neither felt right or the same, but held an eerie quality she couldn’t explain.
It wasn’t the colour, although that could be why feelings of unease rose. A mix of haze, white on the outside but centered with a deep gray blue disquieted her. This wasn’t the usual mottled gray plume she’d witnessed over the years and was used to. It was menacing, menacing in a way she couldn’t explain.
Not one given to histeria or flights of fancy, the idea struck her as completely odd. She turned walking inside her cabin letting the screen door slam behind her. Picking up her half filled coffee cup, she returned to the clay sculpture she’d been working on.
Fired by the odd mood she worked feverishly without let up, moulding, sculpting, correcting, smoothing. As she stood back to inspect her latest work of art, her eyes were drawn to the window. It was formidably dark and she was forced to amp up the generator for added light.
Again drawn outside, she wiped her hands, poured a fresh coffee and returned to the front door. The eerie foggy mist had closed in surrounding the cabin and the trees. It was impossible to see 10 feet in front of the door.
Still unsettled, Annie turned, grabbed a flashlight and headed outside. She felt an unclear but urgent need to check on Mrs. Laferty. Dawning a heavy jacket with a fleece lined hood, she moved down the porch and onto a well marked path.
It was impossible to hurry, the fog was too thick, yet she felt impelled to do so, as if she were being called. What insanity was that? she wondered with a shiver that rolled down her body. Still she couldn’t shake the feelings of desperation that dogged every step.
Noting the ground cover and signs of passing trees and underbrush, she knew exactly where she was, knew she’d reach Mrs. Laferty in another five minutes. She listened as her feet crunched on a mix of gravel and needles.
She felt more than saw the gate to Mrs. Laferty’s home. Opening the white picket gate, she hurried toward the door and knocked rapidly and loudly. When there was no answer she tried again. Three times in fact, each with more intensity than the last.
Suddenly the door flew open and a tall dark and mysterious man stood before her, dressed casually in jeans, heavy boots and T-shirt. Her eyes traveled to his face, a beautifuly face, one any artist would gladly fervently sculpt. Shockingly blue eyes, dark hair with a fringe hanging over his forehead, dimples and swarthy skin met her eye. He was eye-candy for an artist.
“Who are you?” she asked a mix of shock, appreciation and anger laced through her voice.
“I live here. Who are you and what do you want?”
“I’m here to check on Mrs. Laferty.”
“She isn’t here. Her kids came to take her to the mainland. I bought the place.”
“When? When did this happen, I was here only last week.”
“You are wrong. I bought the place a month ago and moved in yesterday.”
“Not debatable as I’m obviously here!” he smirked an unsettling smile. Not one of amusement or welcome, but decidedly unsettling to her mind and oddly her heart.
“Care to come in?”
“No, thanks, I was checking on Mrs. Laferty but since she’s gone, then, no need.”
“Oh I think there is a need. Perhaps you haven’t felt it yet, but it will come.”
She stared momentarily, both intrigued and disturbed by the remark. Lifting a hand in fairwell, she turned to retrace her steps. She let the gate slam behind her and only then turned to look back. He was leaning one arm over his head against the doorframe, his legs crossed nonchalantly, a smile on his face, his itense blue eyes watchful.
What was she supposed to make of that? His remark, his virile looks and the studying gaze he watched her with?