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Window of the Soul

At an earlier age Charles learned to be quiet. He took up chopping wood and listened to the wind as it passed through the trees. People did not understand his life and the lonely cabin in the woods he called home. He never demanded company and all his windows were covered. No one from town had set foot inside the man’s house.

The sun’s first light pierced though the curtains. Charles lay with his eyes opened. On a typical day he would have the kettle on the stove preparing his morning tea but today was not an ordinary day. It was the first of the third month.

Staring at the ceiling Charles saw a spider wrapping silk around its prey. The fangs pierced and drained the victim of its blood. After the spider had finished he noticed that dawn had passed. He lifted the covers and became mobile. The coat he prepared the night before was no longer needed. The morning air had passed and the sun’s warmth was felt. With no appetite he left. He hiked to the road and set out to the nearby town of Populus.



“Darling have you seen the paper I left on the counter? Scribbled with red ink. It was a list of items,” the town’s store owner asked his daughter.

The daughter ignored him continuing to reorganize the groceries on the shelves. She made no effort to help her father find the piece of paper entitled “Charles’ list”. The irritated store owner held his tongue; his words would only hit a wall. He walked past her to the small office in the back of the store.

Was it her mother’s death? The father wondered as he walked by her a second time. He was trying to be brave. When most would have picked up the habit of drinking the daughter’s father was busy becoming a better man. He was well respected in the small town and loved by all. The only exception, it seemed, was his daughter.



Standing at a distance from Populus’ convenience store Charles looked at the door and the large windows. It was all glass. He lowered his head and watched his feet as he walked.

A man of average height and a full beard came into the store. His shoulders were slouched and his hair in a glorious mess. “Good afternoon Charles,” the store owner greeted his guest.

Responding with a nod Charles began his routine. He heard his name again. Looking preoccupied in the second aisle he ignored the man’s urging.

“Charles. No need. No need my good man. All you need is right here.” The slight shift of the head and a glance at the floor relatively close to him, the store owner noticed that he had Charles’ attention. “You come in here every three months and buy the same exact items. The smart fellow that I am I kept your last receipt and made a list. I got your items right here.” The store owner was waving for the man to come.

Unsettled, Charles remained. The store owner’s attention frightened him to the point of paralysis but the man’s urging caused his feet to shift towards the front counter. Surprised by his unprecedented boldness he approached the counter raising his eyes to meet the man’s. Upon meeting the store owner’s eyes Charles sighed heavily feeling a comfort that was well forgotten. Few had this shade of eyes. “Thank… you,” Charles’ own voice was strange to him.

The store owner felt bare at Charles’ gaze. “It is not a problem good man.”

To Charles eyes never lied. Wanting to say something his face tensed yet no words came, only half a smile.

The contorted face left the store owner uncomfortable as he quickly said, “I’ll see you in three months then. We’ll have your items ready. You have a good day now.” The store owner watched as Charles turned to go.

Relief was short lived. Charles turned and met the eyes of the daughter. An instant tension materialized through the air.

It is hard to say what happened next as it all happened at once. The daughter began to tremble for what she saw in Charles was pure fear. The man’s mouth was wide opened as to yell but there was no sound. There was great anguish in his face. He jerked his head and shut his eyes. He began to mumble words, “I will fear no evil.” For a moment the man behind the counter lost his wits, and his daughter had swallowed her heart.

The store owner’s voice quivered. “Are you alright?”

Charles regained himself and immediately moved towards the door. In his urgency Charles had forgotten to avoid the glass. He saw his own reflection. Eyes looked upon eyes. His own soul was bare before him and he saw darkness.

*

The town of Populus hears the name occasionally but Charles never returned to the town. He became a myth, a good campfire story. It became folklore in other towns, but the people of Populus who knew Charles never doubted the story. Over time it became mystified and exaggerated, as retold stories often are, but his home still stands in the forest and no one dares to go near it.

One afternoon when the town folk gathered at the town church the preacher began, “Look upon the light and stand in awe, but look upon the darkness and tremble with fear.” A man in the pews felt chillness at the remark and dared not look at his daughter who was sitting right next to him.

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