Jumping at Shadows

pexels-photo-67083 shadows.jpg

The mind plays tricks on you, you know? About the strangest things, really.

I work early in the morning, and drive to work even earlier. If you’ve ever driven at that not-even-dawn time of the day, you know the way the landscape can shift drastically in the half-light of the moon and the glare of hi-beams. The way the shadows warp and fold into each other as though they have thoughts of their own.

It’s eerie as hell if you’re not used to it, and honestly for me it’s even worse than driving at night. Most of the neighborhood lampposts have already gone dark by this point, and the few that are still working on my country road run on sensors. They won’t turn on until after you’ve already passed, startling and disorienting you.

So, yeah, take this all with a grain of salt.

Tiredness and bad night vision make a powerful combination on the “seeing things” front, and I’m very much the sort of person to jump at shadows anyway. I brake for leaves, thinking they’re squirrels about to dart onto the road, and mailbox shadows, apparently assuming in my sleep-addled state they’re very flat cats.

And the mind plays tricks, especially when it’s only half awake. There’s one particular rock that, coming around the corner, I’m always convinced is a deer. No matter how many times I see it, and I drive this road every day.

Most of my jump scares resolve themselves into nothing, is what I’m saying here. Coming closer I always find the stop sign making the strange circle on the road, or the swaying tree that’s making the berm look like bubbling darkness.

Except, sometimes.

Watching the tree line, sometimes the shifts in the light go strange. A wide, round shadow will fold itself up into a sapling, or something long and straight will just slide backwards, instead of moving with my turn. Sometimes the shift doesn’t quite happen at the same time as the movement of everything around it; too early, or too late. Sometimes the timing’s off in other ways: I’m going slow to take a sharp bend, but the shadows scurry in the corner of my eye, like they’re running to hide.

It’s these little strangenesses that throw me. No matter how often I try, I can never pinpoint their source. They always make me think there’s something hiding there, something that wasn’t expecting me and doesn’t want to be exposed.

Those thoughts are silly, though. Shadows are shadows, and that’s all they are. Really, I blame my own nervousness and lack of sleep. It’s hard to be fully awake at four in the morning.

And the mind does play tricks.

*****

Hey all, sorry I’ve been MIA for a solid three months! Life has exploded recently and, well, suffice to say most of my writing time has been put toward cover letters instead of blogging. Things are still a little touch and go, so I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be back to weekly posts; it’s going to have to be whenever things settle, and I’m not sure when that will be yet. I do hope to have a couple of reviews up soon, though, and I do want to finish out the Harry Potter posts, indescribably late as they are.

In the meantime, hopefully you enjoyed the seasonal microfic!

Image by Burak Kebapci on Pexels
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