She spent every Summer at her grandparent’s farm, surrounded by nature in a way she never could be at home in the city. There were cows in the barn, chickens in the roost, and endless fields of wild plants that waved with the passing wind. Every day was filled with carefree delight and exploration, but she hated what it meant when the sun set behind the picturesque mountains.
Her bedroom was the loft, a small converted space over the living room, and while it felt cozy with the warmth of the fireplace and the muffled conversation of her grandparents below, she always felt a cold chill coming from the window, no matter how hard she shut it, day or night. She was terrified of that window, kept awake at all hours by the thought of it watching her, of what it could see.
The man had been standing in the field for as long as she could remember, a dark shape on moon-lit nights. She only saw him when she dared peek at the window, only in those dark moments when she worked up the courage to see if he were still there. Every night he was staring up at her; every year he seemed to be just a little closer to the house, always just out of reach of the porch lights.
Her parents never seemed to see him when they tucked her in, and he wasn’t ever there when she looked through any other window. That old pane of glass in the loft, though, she was paralyzed by it, paralyzed by him. Every night on her grandparents’ wonderful farm, she spent the night shaking and left the loft as soon as breakfast was ready, avoiding any eye contact with the window.
As time went by her visits to the farm were less and less frequent, and as the rigors of college life took over she had long forgotten about the strange man in the field that had terrified her as a child, remembering only the boundless joy and freedom of her annual stay. She didn’t think about her grandparents often, until her mom called to tell her they’d be taking one last trip up to the farm.
Ten years had passed since she last visited the country house, but everything was just as she remembered – grandpa’s medals over the piano, the old wicker broom that she pretended could fly. Grandma’s teacups hanging just so on the wall. It was like she never left, and each room brought more warm memories flooding back.
Climbing the handmade ladder up to the loft, her fingers went numb and breath caught in her throat, for reasons she couldn’t understand. Her heart pounded in her chest as she ascended, finding her old bed just as neatly prepared as it had ever been.
But then there was the window, and her eyes were drawn to it as a horde of memories, of the fear and dread, the sleepless nights, came flooding back. She saw a face, a terrible, horrible face just inches away.
The sound of shattering glass.