He could see the small triangular light against the closet, a reflection of the moon through the glass window on the front door. The furnace thumped to life startling him. From the kitchen came the sound of a chair scraping across the linoleum floor. His heart sped up and he pushed his hands through his hair. Please stop, he thought. He’s only a boy. I’m the only thing he has left. The shadow grew, soft steps passed across the worn carpet. Marvin grabbed the frame of the bedroom door, terrified, squeezing his eyes shut, wishing away the thing he would see, knowing it was part of his insanity. It wasn’t the first time. There had been the miners in the park, the woman at the well in the middle of the field. She wasn’t there and had disappeared in a blink, as quickly as she had appeared. For years, at least a decade, in the time Henry was growing up, the hallucinations had stopped. And Marvin thought he had dodged the bullet. This illness, the one that had taken his grandfather’s life, would leave him alone. Then a year ago, they began again. Slowly. At first it was glints of movement in the sun. Nothing really. Then they were shadows in the corner of his vision, movement around him, shadows of things not there.
“Morning, Dad. I made coffee.”
Henry stood there, bare chested in only long johns and socks, smiling at him. Marvin breathed, suddenly aware he had been holding his breath. He looked at his son, wanting to touch his face, hold him in his arms, knowing now there would be little time for it now. Henry was young still, eleven. In a few years, he would hate his father, like he had when he was a teen. In a few years, Marvin might be completely lost, his mind gone like his grandfather. They only had the time now. He walked to Henry and held him tightly. The boy went limp, confused.
“Why are you up so early?” Marvin asked.
“I thought we could have breakfast together.”
Marvin glowed.
“I don’t have to start this job until tomorrow,” he said. “Let’s play hooky today.”