Some say there is a middle of the night feeling. You know, when things are strangely still, crackling with potential energy. That is the feeling I have now. It came upon me five minutes ago, when I first noticed her. (Her? Was it a her? I squinted but I couldn't tell. After all, it was the middle of the night; it was strangely still; and so cold my breath thickened as it left me.) I wonder if it's her - it - that's causing the feeling, or the atmosphere, or if they play off each other. Maybe if it had been a bright day I would have smiled and waved.

Maybe not.

I suppose it doesn't matter now, but it is terribly cold. Everything is frozen and foggy and a body could lose heat just like that. I should go inside - wait. Is she digging in that trash can? This snowy haze makes it impossible to see my hands, much less across the street. Maybe it is a man. A small man ... a boy! Yes! A young boy up to no good, like all young boys. I remember when I had trouble with that one boy. The paper boy. The little bastard thought it was so funny to aim the news at the dog. He won't be doing that anymore. Nope. Straightened him out.

Hmmm, that reminds me ... where is that dog? I wouldn't want to have to look for him in this. Too cold. I remember when we got him. It seemed everyone had a dog, why shouldn't we? I was supposed to name him but I never did. So he became just Dog.

There! Across the street! That boy - is he looking at me? I should look busy. Yes, yes I am just covering the flowers so they don't freeze. Nothing else, not watching you or anything - wait. Where are the flowers? Did they die in this cold? I'll need to plant more. Good, he's looking away.

What is he doing? I should find out. Its almost my duty, right? Someone has to pay attention to these things.

I could walk right over, say my heater is out and I don't have any matches, and could I borrow some? No, no, what if he wants to light it for me? I can't let him in my house. Who knows what he could do. No, no. Something else. Sugar? Too predictable. If I were braver I wouldn't make up anything. I'd just march over and demand he straighten up. Straighten up and get out of the cold.

I really should go inside. Oh my God. Now I know he's looking at me. What should I do? Act natural. Maybe I should call out to him. Play dumb. Hello? He heard me. Oh, he's coming over. Wait. He stopped. Good, he's turning around. That was too close. He really is very small. Maybe a woman after all. But what would a woman be doing out in this? At this time of night? Nothing good, that's for sure.

Oh, I think she's going back inside. Good. Maybe once she's in I'll have a look in that trash can. It's on the street after all; I have a right to. I looked in that young librarian's trash can once. She had such odd hours - too odd. I was just trying to protect the street. She yelled at me when she saw me. (I thought librarians liked it quiet.) Stupid hussy. Didn't matter anyway, by the time she saw me I had finished. Nothing interesting. Just that book about flowers, which I took.

I like flowers. Roses. Everyone likes roses. So I planted me some roses. Where are they? Hmm, and where is that librarian? I haven't seen her since that day. Maybe she moved. I should go to that library and see what she's up too. Or maybe she quit. I could take her job. I worked in a library once. A big one in the city. So big you could get lost and never found in it. People did too. Disappeared in it. That's why I left. Too dangerous ...

There! Again! That woman! Is she carrying something? A shovel? She's carrying it wrong. I've carried many shovels and you shouldn't do it like that, with the digging end point up. It should point down - there. She set it down by that trash can. She's turning around. Okay. There she goes back inside. I'm going to go have a look.

This damn wind! Careful. Don't slip on the ice. Quickly. She'll come back out to finish whatever she's doing. Ok, let's see - that shovel's handle is broken; how did that happen? Its grip is gone. The wood handle 's all splintered at top. I'd throw this kind of evidence away too, lady. So, inside the can: trash. Newspaper, milk carton, an old doll, pair of dirty shoes -

A picture of someone.

Two people. This damn snow, I can't see. Wait, It looks like -

My God. It's my family.

Well, the two of us. But that's enough to be a family and people like families as much as roses. Why does she have this? I'm taking this. Telling someone. Not the police. They aren't very good. One of them's right down the road, but I don't like him. They couldn't even find my other half. Hmm. Maybe this isn't us after all. Where are my glasses?

Shoot! The woman is on the porch. How long has she been watching me while I stand here holding this picture like an brainless fool. Can she even see me? This snow is awful bad. Then again, I can see her - sort of. Is she coming? She's coming!

Run. Run! Don't slip, keep going. I can't breathe in this cold! It's heavy cream and smoke. Just get to the door. Its locked. Its locked? Why would it be locked? Where's my key? Where is it? Is she still coming? She is. I can just make her out. But so slowly. What is she doing? She wants to torture me, I can tell.

There! under that loose porch board, my spare key. Ouch! It's cold! Burnt my fingertips. It's so hard to hold onto. Get it in the lock. She just said something. She's right there, at the bottom of the porch steps. Face her. She's staring at me. That's all she's doing. Squinting in the darkness and snow. It is a woman. Young. Dark eyes. Cruel eyes, I can tell. Oh, she's brought that shovel. That damn bottom step always creaks when someone steps on it. I shout at her as she comes closer. "What do you want?" She stops and looks startled. I don't think she thought I would yell - like I shouldn't see her. But I do. I've had enough of this. An old person like me deserves some peace. Why do you keep staring? Don't touch me!

It was a strangely still, middle of a chilled day when they found the body. A body! In this town! With a cop right down the street. It isn't right.

They say that Ms. Nes must have slipped on the ice while carrying that broken shovel. She managed to fall on the scooping end as she went down. Caught herself under her chin, snapped her neck clean back. An accident, they say. They don't bother saying why she was over there.

She was 'posed to move today. I saw her up all night through the windows, packing. Sometimes making trips to her trash can. Or to her car. But I couldn't say what she was doing over there either, I feel asleep in my favorite chair. The soft blue one Betty got me before she went on. I always keep on an eye out on the street from that chair. Not much else to do since my heart went weak. So I may not know a lot but I know it wasn't no accident. Didn't have to see it to know that.

I tried telling those cops what really must have happened. That the house's occupant had done it. Just like all those others that had been done in too. 43 bodies - those are just the ones they found, of course. Suspected of 23 more, including all those missing kids from that city library. But I know it's actually more. I keep track.

Just last year, Lynn Matters that nice librarian down the street. Tony Kane that paper boy. And Lord knows who or what else. I think my cat was a victim too. He was all I had after Betty died. It isn't right.

It took everything I had but I walked over to that house next door. I tried telling them cops, but they just shook their heads, one of 'em kinda chuckled. No respect. "Bill," they told me, "You need to go back to your chair and stop spying on the neighbors and making up stories. You know that crazy old murdering woman died years ago. Ain't no way she's killing anyone no more from where she is."

Or so they say.

Written by Courtney, posted by me with permission.

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