Recognizing demons used to be easy. They would appear in the mirror after chanting Bloody Mary’s name, in glimpses behind headstones, in gooseflesh creeping down the spine. Skulls amid the mist frightened beyond measure. But perhaps these demons, easily recognizable, are not the ones to fear.
Peg stares across the room at the closet door. She knows it is strange to have a closet in her office, but she is happy it's there. In fact, the closet is the reason Peg selected this office when given choice between this one and an office with a view of the garden plaza. A few years ago, she would have chosen windows. Now she is comforted by isolation. There is safety in solitude.
At home, Peg tries to avoid making noise. She has even taken to brewing coffee away from the house. The spit, hiss, and whoosh beckon.
Despite her attempts to evade notice, Peg cannot fully avoid diminishing her existence.
She flinches when he enters the kitchen, his shorts sagging below the waist, a cigarette hanging from his lip, and a script in his hand. He nods her way and holds her gaze a second or two too long.
They make her skin crawl, the looks she receives in the morning. It is almost as if she can be seen through to the core. He licks his lower lip and snakes a damp arm around her waist, painfully palming a handful of her backside.
His menace lingers long after he returns to the back of the apartment.
Each morning she gets up earlier to avoid the solemn stare and crippling contact that leaves her vacant.
“Peg, meeting in ten?” Her co-worker pops into the office interrupting her thoughts.
“Yeah, sure. Be right there.”
Peg shuffles some papers, stands, and walks towards the exit. She pauses and rests a hand on the closet handle. Noiselessly, she slides the door along the runner and stares at the roller suitcase tucked just inside. It sits unassumingly at the ready as it has done every day for the last six months. Tucked inside are three sets of slacks, shirts, socks, skivvies, two sweaters, one set of tennis shoes, and a small toiletry case, all of which she purchases in cash on her lunch break. Her passport is nestled in between the sweaters and slacks. She would like to flip through it but hesitates as her phone rings.
She can see the caller ID from across the room.
“Peg?” she hears her colleague call.
Without fanfare, she eases the case out of the closet, and slides the door closed, a tiny embroidered skull patch winking along the linoleum as she heads out into the sun.