Today something very odd happened and I’m still grappling with it. After work, I went for a run, and it was fabulous – the weather was gorgeous, I physically felt wonderful, my pace was great – and then about a mile from home, I ran past a house where the dogs always come out and bark at me the whole way down the hill. As ever, they came barreling out of the yard, snapping at my heels, and then suddenly stopped, turned around, and ran away from me as fast as they could. All good; I felt painted with gold, like maybe someone up there likes me and got those yappy little pests out of the way. But moments later I ran past another house, this one with two big dogs who always greet me with joyful howls, and these dogs not only didn’t bark, but stared frozen at something RIGHT BEHIND ME. What’s more, at that moment the world became eerily quiet, with no traffic, no birds, just the sound of my own harsh, frightened breathing as I turned to see what the heck the dogs were looking at. In my mind, I pictured a hag-like, black-draped, twisted figure floating just behind me…but nothing was there. I even looked down at my shadow, thinking maybe the hag’s shadow would be visible trailing behind me on an invisible cord like a malignant balloon…but nothing. Still, I swiped madly behind me with one arm to sever any attachment, real or imagined, and muttered that nothing was allowed to follow me home. I ran that last mile with the hackles on my neck raised, half expecting an unspeakably cold hand to catch me around an ankle and drag me down to the land of nothing-good. Nothing happened, and perhaps it was pure imagination, but part of me wonders just what horrors do lie just behind the green and gold glory of spring.

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