By Katherine DeGilio
1994, Room 302, 12:20 AM
Evin’s knuckles turned white as she clenched the curtain closed. The curtain was a bright autumn color, but the weather had fallen far below the neutrality of autumn’s temperature. Rain ransacked the gutters outside, creating an ambiguous thump with every drop that fell down onto the metal framed roof. The wolf in the wind started to howl, and before long it began to bite, its teeth the unforgiving hail that would leave its scars on the Hotel’s exterior for years to come.
Evin closed her eyes, shook her head, and opened them again. She turned to look at the clock.
12:20, she thought and looked at the picture of her father, which laid on her nightstand. He should have been back by now.
Evin looked back at the window, took a deep breath, and released her grip on the curtains. The blood rushed back to her hands and straight to her heart. Evin held onto her chest. It pounded with such ferocity, she wasn’t sure it would stay in inside her if she moved her hand.
The trees in front of her window swayed in the guttered wind. Evin blinked hoping they would stay as they were, but she knew better. The longer she looked at the trees, the more the trees looked back. Their branches came forward, and stuck out like hands, beckoning her. They seemed to say, ‘Please, open the window. Let me in.’
Evin shut the curtain again. The trees tapped on the glass, and Evin covered her ears. She did her best to tune it out, but with every tap, the sound grew louder until it became a loud, ominous thump.
“Leave me alone,” Evin whimpered, but the thumping continued.
She closed her eyes and stuck her fingers in her ears, waiting for it to go away. To her surprise, within a minute, she found silence. She gradually opened her eyes and turned back to the clock.
She didn’t bother opening the curtain again, but still, something pulled her. She tried to look away but found herself staring at the bottom of the window.
It’s all in your head.
Evin bit her lip and listened as the rain pattered down.
She leaned back, closed her eyes, and strained to sleep. She was halfway there, when the patter turned into a slide, and a click, that flew her eyes open with the window. Evin sat up and watched in horror as the window opened, and a dark violet shadow slinked its way into her room and under her bed.
Evin pulled the covers over her head.
“Please,” she said. “Go away.” She tried to sound strong, but her voice failed her, refusing to go above a whisper.
The shadow didn’t speak but slithered out from under her bed and squinted at her. Evin cried. It tilted its head and poked her. She pulled herself deeper into the blanket, making sure there wasn’t an open crack. The shadow whispered nothings into her ear, and Evin clenched her jaw. It was teasing her. Evin gulped. It poked her once more, and she jumped out of bed.
Evin ran down two different hallways before stopping. She turned back to make sure the shadow wasn’t following her and let out a sigh of relief when she realized she was alone. Evin looked at the hallway clock.
Where is he?
Evin took a step back and slid down to the floor. She wrapped her arms around her knees and cried. She didn’t look up until she heard another suite’s door open. She watched her father stepped out of the room. She opened her mouth to call to him, but before she could speak, a woman in a red robe, stepped forward. The woman ran her hand down his arm and kissed him. Evin felt she had been kissed by death.
She stood up and ran back down the hall to her room. She put in her keycard and slammed the door behind her. The shadow came out from under her bed. Evin ignored it. It poked her, and she stomped over to the nightstand. She picked up the picture of her father and threw the frame on the ground.
When it didn’t immediately shatter, she felt a caged rage break free from her chest. Evin squatted down, picked up the frame, and took the picture from it. She stood in front of the nightstand and shredded the picture piece by piece.
When she was done, she kicked the pieces under her bed and looked back at the nightstand, where she kept the picture of her late mother. The shadow poked her again, but Evin swatted it away. She turned to the closet, where she had hung tomorrow’s black dress. The shadow growled behind her. She whipped around and growled louder.
Evin’s father snuck back into the hotel room. He looked up at the clock as he walked in.
He ran his hand down his face.
“Evin,” he called quietly towards the second bedroom. She didn’t answer. He rubbed the nape of his neck, poured himself a glass of whiskey, and headed down to the room to check on her. He opened the door and dropped his glass.
Evin didn’t wake. She laid there sleeping peacefully, holding hands with a violet shadow.
About Katherine DeGilio
Katherine DeGilio is a part-time writer and full-time optimist. Her work has appeared in Soliloquies Anthology and November Falls by Zimbell House Publishing, among others. She loves connecting with her readers and encourages them to reach out to her via Twitter @Katiedegilio or visit her website katherinedegilio.com.