Day Five

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I suppose we all have memories that are best left forgotten, memories that should be tucked into the recesses of our minds and left to linger for eternity, fading so much that one can’t decipher whether it was a dream or if it had actually happened at some point. Some things just fade all on their own without you even noticing, and perhaps once in awhile, long after it’s happened and you’ve forgotten about it, you get a sense of déjà vu because of it, yet you still can’t call to mind exactly what the memory was. So you suppress it again.

And then, of course, there’s rare occasions where you have a memory that you can’t tell whether you want it to wither away in the back of your mind or not. You remember it exactly as it happened, each second of it precise and accurate, and yet you aren’t entirely sure if you want to or not.

I have one of those memories.

I was young, and even though much of my childhood is a blur at this point, I remember the day that he moved into my town. He who spoke hardly a word to anyone, even those who were his own age, and stayed hidden away from the sunlight. And the moonlight, for that matter. I remember growing curious along with the other children in town, all of whom were my friends, and all of whose names I have long since forgotten. And I find it strange how I cannot recollect any of their names, and yet I know the name of the man who I had never spoken so much as a word to. Regardless, the curiosity of the children, myself included, grew each day that we didn’t take action. We all saw him as an anomaly, and we would share our immature conjectures as to why he was so concealed all the time.

Eventually, we had all spontaneously decided that we should do something. And do something we did.

What had originally begun as an attempt to learn about this man, this man whom had spoken to perhaps two people in our entire town, grew into a fearful game. It began as timid attempts to knock at his door or hover near an open window, which we quickly learned that no such thing existed for him, only closed ones did, and grew in time to an addiction that we knew would heed no results except fright.

What had always struck me as odd about the man, his name was Adam, as I learned later, was not how he would speak – as I had no idea what he even sounded like – or how he seemed to be an introvert, but how, if his eye ever caught you looking in through his low windows due to childish curiosity, he would gently touch the tips of his fingers together, and they touched so lightly that they would shake strenuously, clearly making an effort to scarcely be touching at all, and lean the slightest bit in your direction, fashioning an insignificant yet respectful bow. He didn’t seem to mind that we peered in through his windows; in fact, he seemed to favor it. And even more peculiar was that, throughout the usually two-second or so ordeal, you could not, no matter how much your mind wanted you to, look away. We would try and try, even taking turns attempting to do so, but it always ended with his shaking bow in response to our curious gazes. And he never seemed to tire of it.

It made for a fun game, but it was one we could only play with Adam. Had we attempted our newly discovered hobby on anyone else, which we did, naturally, as children would, we were banished from the property and forbade from returning.

Warren even once went so far as to shoo us away with his rifle – and that is the only reason I remember his name!

Perhaps the scariest part of fleeing from Warren was that we had unconsciously run onto Adam’s property and cowered beneath the back window. After our trembling had ceased, we rose hesitantly to our feet and peered around the side of the home. Warren had vanished, presumably back into his own house, as he’d probably never even left the vicinity of it, and our eyes were drawn all at once to the window. It wasn’t until we’d all looked at it that we realized whose house we had sought refuge behind.

Sure enough, there he was, standing slightly hunched forward, fingers converging routinely. His eyes, emotionless and dark, felt and looked as if they were staring directly into yours, but at the same time glaring directly past you. We all felt the same thing, as we shared later, and it brought about a new sense of terror. He had no imperfections about his eyes. Truth be told, I feel that if anything was to be said of them, it be that they were beautiful. That was, until they looked at you.

We could not find the will to move an inch beneath his haunting stare, and so we took the separation of his fingers to be the cue of release, and as soon as it happened, we fled as if we were more terrified by his stare than by Warren’s rifle.

And, in a sense, we were.

It would plague us for days on end why we could not will ourselves to move away from his dreaded eyes. They contained no hatred or malice of any sorts, but they also weren’t exactly glowing with hospitality, either. We would never speak of those terrible days, but we all knew it was exactly what each other was thinking about. We would draw our own conclusions as to why we had, on more than one occasion, been rendered immobile from such a common gesture. We did this as an attempt to comfort ourselves, but that was a futile dream. Our peace of mind would not return until about the forth day that we had kept our distance from that mysterious man.

We would never see him outside of his home, only when we dared to look through his windows. And he never failed to be near that window, no matter which it was that we had chosen to look into that day as we only ever chose one.

On day five, we would always return. It was as if, over night, our want to learn about him, which was omnipresent except for when he scared it out of us at the window, had come back. We would do anything to sate it, even scare it away for four days or more.

On day five, as usual, we returned.

On day five, it rained. The first rainfall since he’d come to town. It deterred us for only a short while because the downpour had made our mothers retain us, but our cravings, which had driven us to pace with eagerness about our homes and we had told our mothers not a word about, leaving them to assume we were only restlessly bored, drove them mad. Mad to the point where they practically threw us to the rain.

We ran through the brown mud together, shivering and drenched, to his home. We cowered on the porch beneath the canopy where we remained huddled closely together beneath the window, stealing from one another what little warmth we each had, for a long while. No one spoke a word, and, looking back, I feel we’d been shivering from more than just the rain.

I was the first to rise. My wanting to know about him once again overpowered all else, and, frigid and tense with anticipation, I looked through the fogging glass.

On day five, we did not flee to sanctity in the warm sunshine; we walked, befuddled, in the cold rain. The chill had lost its touch, as we were no longer focused on it. We all kept our eyes to the ground, unspeaking, each one of us departing from the small crowd as we passed our respective homes.

I was the last.

My mother hurried to warm me amidst my quiet disappointment. I didn’t speak a word the rest of the evening, and everything continued as normal on the next day. The sun shined, my companions played, and Adam’s house was left undisturbed.

I seemed to have been the only one still feeling the effects of day five, and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Everyone else acted as if it never happened, as if we’d never met Adam, like he never even existed. I thought, wrongly, at the time that perhaps he hadn’t. Perhaps I’d made it all up.

On day five, Adam did not appear at the window, and I didn’t learn until years later why.

On day five, Adam had died.

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