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What’s out there, Christabel?
What’s out there, Christabel? What do you see? Don’t tell me there’s nothing. Don’t tell me the night is quiet. I can tell that’s not true by the way you keep peering between the blinds, the way your fingers press them down so nervously. There’s something out there. You see something. What is it? Why won’t you tell me? What are you trying to hide from me? What don’t you want me to know? You’ve never kept secrets from me before, Christabel. I’ve always been able to depend on you. What’s so different about this? Don’t tell me it’s not important. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. It must matter, or your face wouldn’t be so pale, and your lips wouldn’t be so drawn, and you wouldn’t stalk between my bedside and the window with such nervous little steps. What do you see out there that’s making you so worried? All the doors are locked, Christabel. All the windows are closed. My lamp is burning brightly, and I can hear a cozy fire crackling out there in the living room. Everything seems as it should be. But you still keep looking out the window, and you still won’t tell me what you see. It can’t be an animal; you’ve seen all manner of them skulking on the treeline, and it’s never concerned you before. Even the grizzly bear sniffing around our garden provoked nothing but delight and fascination. It can’t be a man; you would surely tell me if you thought a burglar or a rapist, or some other sinister character, were lurking in our bushes, to say nothing of a legitimate inquisitor, no matter how strange the hour might be. And this is a strange hour, indeed. No, it must be something else, something neither man nor animal, which has inspired this fearful reticence in you. It must be something unprecedented in our life together, for I’ve never seen you act this way before. What it is, I can’t imagine. How could I? This unknowing fills me with anxiety. So please, tell me, why do you refuse to ease my burden? What is it that you feel you cannot share with me, that stands outside our house and has cast such a dreadful pallor upon you? What is so unspeakable? I may be weaker than I once was, but I’m not so feeble yet that I couldn’t bear whatever shock you wish to shelter me from. My heart beats strong in my chest yet, and my mind remains alert. So please, Christabel, with all sincerity, I beg of you: what is out there? What do you see? This night is long and deep and still, but your disquiet colors it a sinister shade. It makes the ticking of the clock seem mocking, and the glow of my lamp feel lurid. It’s as though another presence has entered our house, one which only grows stronger the longer it goes unspoken. So you see, it really does no good to keep your silence. It hasn’t kept whatever is out there out, it’s let it in, just as surely as if you’d thrown open the door. But perhaps you have your reasons. Even so, though, even if you will never tell me what you see, at least cease your constant peering out the window. Your vigilance, for once, seems to serve no good purpose, and the facade of unconcern with which you practice it is placing a strain upon us both. Whatever is out there that has filled you with such fear, it seems set in its place. It is out there, and will remain out there, and you have no other choice but to accept it. At least, this is what I must presume, as long as you keep me in the dark. Come, rest beside me for a while, try to forget whatever stands outside our window. Forget whatever will not leave. These are dark hours, but morning will still come. It must. It must. Mustn’t it, Christabel?
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