Eyes in the Dark

They put little metal tags in the trees. I saw one winking like a bright eye in the light of a street lamp tonight. Everything was bright; the street lamps on the branches, bright gibbous moon and Orion overhead. The wind, springing up in sudden gales, almost seemed to carry light along its currents. I’ve been slowly overcoming my fear of the dark. It’s a fear everyone has, I believe, to some extent, a relic of former days.

It’s the idea of the unknown, the flicker in the corner of your sight, the feeling of eyes on the back of your neck, hand reaching out to touch your shoulder. But we have known these phantoms since we were born. We’ve always been afraid of them, but why? Does unknown equate bad?

I sat on a swing hung on a line between two trees. I looked up and watched the bare branches criss cross over the stars, winking in and out. The wind sprang up and swayed the trees, swayed the swing like a boat, the ropes creaking like rigging. I thought I heard a coyote howl born on the wind, but perhaps it was far off traffic contorted by distance. I howled back, smiling at my small voice in the dark, born on the wind to other ears.

Then I felt the eyes upon my neck. Swallowing fear, I looked round, but the eyes moved too, always behind me. Kicking the ground, I twisted the ropes together, then let them spin free, turning my head like a dancer, trying to catch sight of those elusive eyes.

I laughed; it was a game I played with the invisible wind which caught my body like a sail and sent me turning. For a moment, spinning in the dark, I forgot to fear. It was hide and seek with a master player.

I never did believe in guardian angels, though the idea of a being whose sole concern is your safety would be comforting. Now when I feel eyes in the dark, I wonder whose they are. Who is this playful phantom striding alongside us in the dark, on the edges of mirrors and in the rustle of leaves? As I strode back to my dorm I smiled, for a gale followed me, and eyes watched me in the dark.

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