by Aliah Basbas
Annie’s mother always told her that it was wrong to stare.
“Do not stare at strangers, do not stare at trivial things, and do not even stare at trees, dangerous creatures might mistake you as someone who is rude,” she often used to say to her.
Even now at thirty where Annie is living alone in a new neighborhood and her mother, now dust residing inside a porcelain urn, she still kept the reminder close to her heart. She enjoyed solitude and serenity, taking her time making tea and tending to her pocket garden almost everyday. Self-defense weapons were stashed in every corner of the house, she even knows how to do hammer strikes and groin kicks. It was safe to say that she can handle herself.
But what she was never reminded of was how to act when she is the one being stared at.
Annie always felt that someone was watching her. It was not the kind where the cashier stares at a customer for being too slow in counting their bills or the way a child looks in awe at a person who has green hair. Her feeling was different, it was as if someone was lurking and observing her every move.
Months after her arrival, a few of her neighbors welcomed her with a gift basket. In return, she gave them fresh herbs and spices as a way of saying thanks. Her attention was caught by a little old lady that lived right across from her home. She was a medium from what Annie had heard.
“Do not stare at the poor girl.” The old woman whispered as she handed Annie sage. It was not directed to her nor to anyone, she was whispering to the wind, in hopes of it being caught by the entity.
Annie paid her no mind but nonetheless received the gift with both hands.
At night, after washing the dishes, Annie went upstairs to shower. She felt the lingering gaze again as she opened the bathroom light. The mirror reflected her body, her round eyes, and flushed cheeks.
The woman in front of her stared and stared until Annie felt uneasy. She began moving her limbs but the mirror seemed broken. At the brink of her panic, the woman gives a sinister smile.