Behind These Eyes - Part Five

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Mandy had been at a job interview. She had decided that she needed a job in order to keep her sanity. She had worked all her life, with only minimal time off when the children were born. That and the last ten years of constant struggle just to keep food on the table had ingrained in her mind that to stay at home all day was something akin to death by slowly sinking in to insanity. She had never aspired to be a 'kept woman', a 'society lady' or a 'woman of means'. The idea repelled her, in fact. Of course, it would also be nice to have her own money again, and to be able to use it buy things she wanted, rather than the bare neccesities, without having to ask Jaime for 'pin money'. Add to that the somewhat depressing thought that, if her relationship did happen to fall apart again, that she would have a nest egg to help her, and the deal was sealed. She had enjoyed her receptionist job at the medical centre in the old place, and so it was natural to continue searching for the same type of work again.

She walked in, still in her best outfit, and put her handbag down on the table with a bump. All she could think about was how desperately she wanted to get out of these pantyhose. It was a hot day, and the pantyhouse weren't helping. She went into the bedroom, shedding her jacket and shirt as she went. She sat on the edge of the bed to remove her heels, then peeled her pantyhose down off her legs. She dumped the dirty clothes into the basket, and sat down at her vanity to wipe her makeup off. The vanity was one of the few pieces of furniture that she had kept when they moved into the new house. It was in an art deco style, with a full mirror that wrapped onto two wings. The mirror was spotted with age, but still very serviceable.

Rummaging through drawers for makeup remover and a cotton pad, Mandy let her mind drift over the interview. It had been rather terrible, the heat had made it hard to concentrate, and the little room was stifling. She kept finding herself wanting to jump up and open the window, and having to hold herself back. But she had answered the interviewer's questions, possibly not as well as she could have. She reasoned that she didn't really want to work in a place without air conditioning, at any rate. Not in this climate.

With the bottle of makeup remover in hand, Mandy straightened and began unscrewing the lid. She poured the liquid onto the cotton wool and lifted her eyes to the mirror. She had already taken the first swipe at her eye makeup when she noticed the figure standing behind her own reflection, and she turned quickly, her heart pounding, but there was no one there. Mandy frowned, thought it must have been a trick of the light. She turned back to the mirror, only to see the same figure standing there, but this time the girl's hands were to her head, blood gushing through her fingers. Mandy screamed, wheeled around again and, without looking to check again if the girl was in the room or not, fled from the bedroom. When Jaime arrived home over an hour later, she was still sitting at the bottom of the stairs, the door locked behind her, half dressed and with her makeup smeared across her face. She still held the now dry cotton pad in her hand.


Jaime sat with her on the bottom stair, the light fading around them, and tried to work out what had happened. Mandy would not speak at first, would only allow him to hold her, to stroke her hair. He didn't want to ask directly what had happened, afraid it would just upset her further, so instead he tried to coax her to come inside, let him make her a cup of tea. She was shivering -how much from the chill in the early evening air, and how much from whatever shock she had experienced he could not guess. Eventually, though, she nodded against his chest, and half supported, half carried her into the kitchen. He got her seated at the table, and watched her as he moved around making a cup of tea for her. She was curled in on herself, still shivering, and casting wary glances towards the bedroom. As he waited for the water in the kettle to slowly rise to a boil, Jaime walked behind Mandy, rubbed her bare arms, and told her that he was just going to go and get her a jacket. She nodded mutely but he noticed that her eyes were glued on him as he moved towards the door.

He found the room just as it should be. Jaime wasn't sure what he had been expecting, but given that Mandy's strange reactions seemed to be centreing on the room, he had expected to see something out of the ordinary. A pair of Mandy's heels lay on the floor near the bed, the chair from the vanity was pulled out slightly, the doona cover slightly rumpled in one spot. Nothing out of the ordinary. He opened the wardrobe door cautiously, half expecting something to leap out at him, simultaeneously chiding himself for such B-grade horror movie ideas, but still not quite convincing himself. When the wardrobe, too, appeared perfectly normal, he found a zippered jumper of Mandy's, closed the wardrobe door, and headed back out to the kitchen.

Mandy must have been staring at the door the whole time he had been in the bedroom. Her eyes locked with his the instant he walked back into the room, relief flooding them almost instantly. He wrapped the jacket around her shoulders and she wriggled into them. Jaime folded her into his arms and kissed her, a lingering kiss that said more about his deep affection for her than words ever could. She let herself be taken away by it. He had just proven, without saying a thing, that there was nothing to fear in the bedroom. Whatever she had seen in the mirror had been her imagination running away with her. Maybe the sun had gotten to her. Suddenly, she felt a little ashamed, letting her imagination get the better of her, and giving Jaime a terrible fright, finding her like that. When the kiss eventually ended, Mandy almost felt like her normal self again. She gave Jaime a little smile that was self-deprecating and apologetic, and he returned the smile with one of his own - slightly perplexed, but pleased to see her smile, all the same. Still unwilling to talk about the incident, Mandy moved towards him again, seeking his lips. Jaime responded, and they kissed again, harder this time.

In the kitchen, the kettle boiled, clicked off, and the water started to cool again.


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