A Face at the Window
by Rita Crossley
It was on a Wednesday that I first saw it. I was in the garden hanging out the washing when something caught my eye at the house opposite. I looked away, so scared by the image, but that macabre instinct to look once more overrode my fear. There was someone at one of the bedroom windows. I could only see the face, the rest of the body hidden below the windowsill. There were no eyes, just two black hollows. The nose was twisted to one side and the mouth, small and round, began to elongate into a smile.
I lifted a sheet onto the line, blocking my view, but I could still sense its presence.
Hanging out the rest without a glimpse up to the window, I returned inside. I jumped as the doorbell rang. It was Cheryl, my friend, who lived there.
We sat drinking coffee at the kitchen table.
“Are you alright?” she said. “You seem distracted.”
I told her what I had seen and we both went out into the garden, my neighbour looking up at the window. She squinted than began to laugh.
“It’s just an old rag. We’re doing some decorating in there.” She looked closer “I can see what you mean; it does look like a face.”
As I looked again I realised my mistake. The folds of the cloth and the light falling upon them had given my imagination the opportunity to flourish. “I feel such a fool,” I said.
She gave me a sympathetic look. “Don’t be silly. I’ll move it when I get home then you’ll have no further frights . . . unless my Gary is stood there. He can look quite scary first thing in the morning.”
We laughed together as we replenished our cups with more coffee. Later, I went out to bring in the dried washing and looked up to the window. Cheryl had kept her promise and removed the rag.
A week later, she and Gary went away on holiday and asked me to have a key to the house. I went over there to water the plants today. On my way home I was admiring my next-door neighbour’s azaleas in their front garden when something caught my eye. It was at my bedroom window. I began to shake. I knew this time I couldn’t mistake it for a rag or anything else I had left on the windowsill.
No, it was that same face; with its wicked smile, and looking down at me.