Copyright is held by the author.
“WHO’S THAT in your backyard?” Janie asked from the family room.
Karen walked across the kitchen floor and approached the window over her kitchen sink.
“There,” Janie said. “I’m sure I see someone standing by the corner of your house.”
Karen peered through the slats in her California shutters. She scanned her backyard, trying to see what her friend Janie was looking at. The sun was almost down behind the trees and the evening shadows were deepening. There might be someone there…someone who didn’t want to be seen. Suddenly the night seemed a little darker and the house a little emptier. She and her husband had bought their dream home a couple of months ago. They were lucky to get the last ravine lot on the street. There were no lawns or fences yet and the homes on either side of them were vacant while the renovations were being completed.
Karen’s husband, Mark had taken the children to his parent’s house for dinner and a visit. She and her best friend Janie had just come back from a Spinning class at her fitness club. Karen’s heart started to beat more quickly as she looked around her spacious kitchen. Now, she wished she had been a little quicker to put up her curtains. Her French doors to the patio made her feel a little too exposed at this moment. She walked over to the wall beside the doors and flipped on the light switch for the floodlights in the backyard. She took another look out the window. The entire backyard was lit up with a reassuring glow and there was no one hiding there. Karen let out the breath she had been holding.
“It’s OK Janie, I turned on the light and there is no one there. Come on into the kitchen and we can split a piece of leftover chocolate cheesecake. Spinning classes burn a lot of calories and we have to stock up for the next time!”
Janie joined Karen by the kitchen table. She was still a little spooked by the last few minutes.
“Karen, did you lock the front door after you went back out to the car to get your purse?”
“I can’t remember.” She replied. “I’ll check.”
Janie watched as Karen walked down the hall and reached for the lock.
“It’s all good Janie. It’s locked.”
Karen had never been nervous in her own home until tonight. Janie was used to lots of lights and people close by. She and her husband lived in a two-bedroom condo in the city. Unfortunately, she was reminding Karen that she was a bit isolated in her new home.
“Should we call the police?” said Janie.
Karen took a deep breath and replied, “No, I’m sure everything is fine, but maybe it would be more relaxing to go somewhere else for now. Do you want to grab a coffee? I’ll call Mark and find out when he’s coming home. I have to admit, I’ll feel better about being alone as soon as the neighbours on either side move in. Then, my lights won’t be the only ones on in the evenings.”
Karen grabbed her coat off the newel post and her keys off the table in the hall. Then she remembered Mark had their car. They had come home in Janie’s car.
“Sorry Janie, you’ll have to drive again.”
“Ok, no problem. You’ll just have to direct me out of here. These streets are so confusing with all the construction. Half the streets have no streetlights and others don’t even have their signs up yet.”
Both women stepped outside. Karen turned to lock the door and Janie took a look around nervously. They closed and locked the doors of the van and pulled out onto the street. As they turned left, they could see the lights of the plaza in the distance. The night sky once again seemed a little brighter. The stars were out, the moon lit their path and the tension they had been feeling at the house was left behind as they relaxed and breathed in the cool night air. Karen reached Mark on the phone and he said he would be home in about an hour. That should give them just enough time for a coffee and maybe a little something sweet to eat.
What Karen and Janie were both completely oblivious to was the man who sat up slowly from the back of the van…a knife in his hand.