Paranoia - By: Charlotte Emma Gledson


By: Charlotte Emma Gledson

The window rattled and strummed with the harsh rain as Sally tried to sleep. Sitting up, she plumped her pillows in a desperate effort to feel the comforts of slumber. With a duet of wind and rain pounding on the window, the stormy resonance filled the room with a crescendo of peaking agitation as Sally finally got out of the bed and looked outside.

She glared out of the rain splattered window, narrowing her eyes to focus. Only darkness greeted her as she strained to see if the ferocious gale had caused any damage. Once her eyes had adjusted to the obscurity, she saw that her lime tree was still erect, and her neighbor’s roof was still intact.

Content, Sally turned to go back to bed, but as she did so, a flash of movement caught her eye. A flicker of color had darted swiftly towards her house from behind the lime tree and she suddenly felt fearful. A sense of dread oozed from her mind, a painful recollection filled her reluctant memory.

Six months ago she found the strength to leave her violent lover, Ian. In the beginning he had been sweet and considerate to both her and Will, her five year old son. Eventually, a bottle of vodka became his regular evening habit. He became aggressive, insensitive and accusing.

Many a time he had mocked Will. “Your Daddy is gone, presumed dead. Lost in battle, tough shit. Iraq has got him now. He ain’t gonna save ya boy. So what you gonna do about it? Want ME to be your dad? NO WAY, you little bastard.”

Usually, after the mental abuse, the violent punches would start and Sally would take the beatings for her son. Finding strength after all Ian’s “ please forgive me” patter, she and Will moved to a refuge, where they soon built a new life.

She had heard nothing from Ian since. Thank God.

But tonight, the memories haunted her like an enveloping shadow that surrounded her being. Abruptly, but with an inner feeling of certainty, she heard the sound of smashing glass. Was that the back door?

A falling tree?

She walked to the middle of the room. Here she intensely listened for the sounds she was expecting.

He was back.

Back now to claim what he thought was rightfully his. She clenched her fists and crept to her door, thumping blood circulated a pounding rhythm in her ears as she anticipated the next sound.

She heard it.

Footsteps up the stairs, soft, quiet, steady.

Grabbing the heavy, box-shaped alarm clock urgently from her night stand, she held it high above her head. The bedroom door opened; she paused, held her breath, and slammed the clock ruthlessly against the form that entered the room. With tremendous force Sally bashed and crushed the skull relentlessly as he fell to the floor.

Finally opening her eyes she acknowledged her first love. Her missing husband lay broken and bleeding.

Behind the fallen body a futile boyish voice stammered as he held a glass of milk.

“He was trying to mend the broken window; the tree hit it. I let him in and...

“Mommy, you killed my Daddy; he came home…”


About the Author

Charlotte Emma Gledson has had two short stories and three poems published in the Darkened Horizons Anthologies. She has written a book of poetry based on her life experiences called Turbulent Emotions (as yet unpublished) and is currently writing a novel of supernatural horror.

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