No harm expected as I curled up in front of the fireplace, warming myself to keep out the chill. I was almost asleep when startled by a knock at my door. Who would be out on a night like this? You couldn’t see three feet ahead of you!
I felt I should answer even though it was past midnight and I was alone, no lights on the street, no car parked near my door, but I opened the door anyway.
Surprisingly, a small in stature old woman was standing there, obviously frozen to the bone, teeth chattering as she asked to come in. How could I refuse? But that is exactly what I should have done.
I slowly guided her to sit by the fire and as she warmed and removed the ragged layer of overcoat, I started feeling uneasy. As I mentioned, I was alone, no one expected to visit soon, and wondered at my carelessness helping a stranger. I hurried to the kitchen to prepare hot tea for her and checked my cell was working, only to find it was blinking with a “no signal” message.
Anxiety building up but I offered the beverage to her cold wrinkled fingers. I took another look at her appearance as she sat there, the fire glow illuminating her features. She seemed younger than I had first thought and her dark eyes shone bright. She glanced up at me with such a casualness it felt as if she knew me well.
That alone was a frightening experience as she seemed too comfortable and settled back in the chair as an old friend might. I nervously drank my own cup of tea as my lip quivered a bit. What is happening I queried that this feeling of trepidation creeps up my neck.
I turned to the side and outside it seemed it was getting darker by the minute. My electricity gave out and only the fireplace provided vision. That was a blessing as I think of it now, only partially seeing the transformation occurring. Maybe it was a few seconds, possibly an hour, but the old woman changed and took in a younger appearance similar to my own.
I suddenly laughed, the kind of high pitched sound one makes before true hysteria sets in. Then just as quickly I must have drifted off to sleep because I have no recollection of the woman leaving my home. When I woke she was gone, the tea was cold and the fire had died out.
I gathered more wood into the ashes and restarted the flames to warm me once again. The electricity had come back on and my cell phone rang with a text from my mother. Looking outside the fog had lifted and the sun was peeking through. I realized I had a bad dream and laughed it off, until.
The shower was welcomingly hot and refreshing. I felt rejuvenated and dried off quickly. I went to brush my teeth and glanced in the mirror. A faint but jagged noticeable scar along the right side of my face looked back at me.