In the beginning it was only the eyes, then it was the warts, but the warts came last and it was the warts that made it difficult. It was troublesome to look into her eyes, as troublesome as it was to look into the sun, but the warts and the sun were things you knew were there, and both were things your eyes avoided. It was natural to look away from the sun or to shield your eyes from its glare, it was expected and thought nothing of, but to avert your eyes from the sadness and fear in her eyes or to shield your glance from hers was thought to be, at first, unnatural and ill-mannered. But it was a necessary reaction. Nothing else could be done. Instinct was to look away. In time, the sadness and fear in her eyes was replaced by confidence, and the confidence was as vulgar and troublesome as the obscene tone her personality had taken.
She was neither Catholic nor religious, so later, after the fear, the wide collared nun’s habit she began favoring was as mysterious as the other changes in Abigail and could only have been a mockery to God.
I forget when she started the candle lighting. It was a subtle change in Abigail; one I hadn’t noticed before it became an obsession with her. She said it was to keep the evil things away. But that was in the beginning, when she was afraid.
Soon after I discovered her obsession with the candles, I found her one evening in her room, sitting on the edge of her bed, in the amber light of a candle which she cradled in her palms. She was rocking herself and whispering repeatedly, “Dear Lord, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” Abigail kept the lights out in her room but always a candle was lit. She said it was the only way, and she was afraid then.
When Abigail was no longer afraid and the warts had come in like organic pebbles, she began walking through the low growing ferns and into the forest beyond the house. At first she would stay away for hours, then days. Now she returns only to creep around the yard like an animal or feral beast. A footpath is worn lifeless where she pads about after dark.
Before the fall of Abigail, when things made sense and nights were pleasant, a lit candle meant one thing only – that a candle had been lit. Now it means a thing that is deeper and darker than any I have ever known is near. Why I should sit here in this darkness and invite the evil in I do not know, but still I do it. I sit here now, warts and all, with my hands balled and clasped in my lap, rocking, fighting temptation to extinguish my good candle.
I miss Abigail the way a crying child is missed after the child is sent away to school or the way the sun is missed on a dreary day and realize now, when the sun was bright and high in the sky, I paid it no attention.
I know horror, now that things are bleak, and Abigail is lost to darkness. Oh how I wish I did not know such terror, but I believe there is a wicked thing here in this darkness, and that I must go to it – to be with Abigail.