Karen could not pinpoint the exact moment that she knew she was being watched. It had been going on for months. Initially a vague uneasiness, or a tingle between her shoulder blades, the sensation grew until she found herself constantly looking around her, searching for the eyes she felt so strongly.
There was never anything there, but she checked anyway.
Her friends and coworkers were concerned. Karen tried to make light of her need to look for cameras in the air vents in her office, but the truth was that she was becoming overwhelmed by the feeling that someone was staring at her. Was she just being paranoid? She didn't think so.
Then there came the little gifts. A white flower left on her desk. A box of her favorite chocolates. Small, surprise tokens of affection began appearing in odd places, such as the Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream that somehow found a way into her medicine cabinet.
The security of her home felt violated; even with the curtains closed tightly and the doors and windows locked, she could not shake the fear that someone was there. The feeling had been especially strong two weeks ago.
She had awakened in the darkness, heart racing, with the distinct impression that someone was in her bedroom with her. Her eyes had fallen on a dark corner of the room, where a menacing figure seemed to be sitting. Karen had lain awake for the rest of the night, praying that it was just a pile of laundry thrown on a chair. In the daylight Karen could discard her fears as irrational, a figment of her sleep-deprived imagination. Except the next night brought the same dream, and the night after that, and so on. The menacing dark figure seemed larger, more corporeal. Last night Karen felt as though the dark figure were looming over her as she hid cowering underneath her covers.
Before she left for work in the morning, she had moved that chair into the next room. It was a heavy piece of furniture, and it took her some time. The relief she felt was worth it. Karen thought that maybe it was time to get rid of that chair. Her ex-boyfriend had given it to her, but the chair was merely useful to her now. Gavin had been dead for at least a year, and they had broken up not long before that. Maybe it was time to let the chair go, she decided, as she walked into her house that evening.
The chair was back in the corner of her bedroom. Dark marks on her wood floor mapped the trail it took, as if the chair had not wanted to be moved. Karen felt terror swelling in her gut as she stifled a scream. Hysterical, she called the police, who arrived with calm reason, took her statement, and searched the place to ease her mind.
"It looks like you have a stalker, ma'am," Officer Carlson had told her.
It made perfect sense. Karen felt stalked; the prey waiting to be devoured. Hearing her fears validated in some way was liberating; if she did have a stalker, the police were on the job. They would take care of everything, she thought as she fell asleep.
She awoke hours later, her heart racing, as if she had been running. Her eyes immediate fled to the corner of the room, searching for that dark figure. It wasn't there. Karen breathed a sigh of relief, then another, and was grateful that there was no midnight visitor sitting in the corner.
An arm encircled her waist from behind, pulling her close.