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The Shut In
(© John Putignano)

Page 1

Virginiaís Nissan Altima pulled into the gravel driveway. Anxiously she hummed an upbeat melody to divert her mind. It wasnít working. The small rocks which made up the driveway crunched beneath the weight of her slow moving tires. She continued to hum, desperate to hide her angst from both herself, as well as Jeff.

She put the car in park and killed the engine. With her hands gripping the steering wheel she closed her eyes tight. She shook her head and let out a deep breath as she whispered to herself. "Heíll be fine. Itís just three days. I will be gone and when I return things will be fine. Donít worry. If you are worried he will notice and worry too, and this certainly will worsen his condition."

Overcome she briskly shook her head as if somehow this would empty her mind. She imagined her fears and insecurities falling free like dandruff from her hair. She imagined an overwhelming sense of calmness flowing over her body like water from a shower head. She took a deep breath and let out an exaggerated exhale. She then reached a shaking had to her car door handle and jerked it open.

Jeff watched from the window. He heard her car coming up the driveway. He had decided on gravel so he could always hear people approaching. He didnít like solid driveways. They were silent and gave visitors an advantage to surprise him. He didnít like to be surprised.

He watched Virginiaís queer behavior. Thoughts began to develop in his paranoid mind. He knew something was wrong, and being as sick as he was, he expected the absolute worse.

Cancer, Sickle Cell Anemia, Multiple Dystrophy, AIDs

He decided it was better to wait the four or five seconds until she reached the front door. Maybe it isnít that bad? He shook his head in disappointment. He hated acting like this, hiding in the shadows and watching. He wished he could greet her at the door, just like before. Greet her with a smile meeting her halfway. He envisioned a normal welcome; absent of bizarre rituals of entry and she would suggest they would go out to eat. He imagined the world as it was before, before his mental breakdown.

It seemed like forever to him but it had only been three years since his agoraphobia isolated him from the rest of the world. Three years since he lived a somewhat normal life as an average man with a decent job making pretty good money. Three years since he would smile and be the social epicenter among peers. Three long years have passed since the day he couldnít get out of bed.

He remembered that day well. Had it been two days before someone noticed? He was catatonic, lying in bed muttering incoherent sentence fragments. He was unable to move. He urinated in his bed, and lay there in his filth for two days, that is until a concerned Virginia came to his rescue.

She called the paramedics, and they took him away to the hospital. He spent a week there before he would be released back to his home. This turned out to be a prison sentence. It was here he remained since, not so much as stepping out the front door. He segregated himself from the world and it was within the confines of this house where he found solace. This was his world, and the only outside influenced allowed in his world now was Virginia.

Virginia truly was a great friend to him. She made sure to visit him every day and bring him groceries once a week. The love he had for her was strong, a bond like brother and sister. Jeff was ignorant, however, of Virginiaís feelings.

She saw their love in a much different light. Where Jeff saw sibling love, Virginia saw a potential for long, everlasting romance. She understood he was unable to commit to any relationship right now, but in time. He was ill, damaged, yet salvageable. His vulnerability amplified her feelings for him as she set a foundation to build passion; one day when he is finally healed she would be there.

And they lived happily ever afterÖ

She knocked softly on the door, careful not to knock to hard. To knock with aggressive force would set Jeff into a panic, and he would retreat to a safe spot in the house. Days would go by before he could be convinced to come out. Batting her lashes she cleared her throat before calling out in a soft voice "Jeff, Itís me Virginia."

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Medium length story
Rating:6.5 / 10
Rated By:12 users
Comments: 1 user
Total Hits:9198

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