Little did she know the virus was already creeping along her insides, scratching at her throat and squeezing sweat out of the glands located by her hairline. It was Friday night and she was choosing the movie she was to watch after the children went to sleep. The video store seemed hot and she was tired, so she grabbed the first title that appealed to her: Pan’s Labyrinth, a spanish gothic fairy tales for adults. As a matter of curiosity, she just happened to be reading a novel set in the late 19th century involving girls in a boarding school, witchcraft and evil beings called from the beyond, entitled A Great and Terrible Beauty. Magic and the supernatural had dripped into her subconscious the way spilled milk fills the fissures in hardwood floors. Her mind was saturated with the unnatural.
She paid for the movie and made her way home, letting her mind skip along a more mundane path. Was dinner ready? The kids would need a bath. Did she pay the hydro bill? Soon she was home and hugging her children. They spent a lovely evening together. They watched a movie, she read them a story , and after the children had been tucked into bed and kissed goodnight and the dinner dishes halfheartedly piled into the kitchen sink “to rinse”, she and her husband settled in to watch the movie.
As the horrifying panorama of post war Spain unfolded before her eyes, the scratching at her throat continued. It became more pronounced with each minute until it became difficult to swallow and she could no longer ignore it. A bit of Metaxa will smooth it out in no time, she thought to herself. So she paused the movie, poured herself some of the amber liquid, and went back to the movie.
That night in bed, she could not sleep. The fever had taken hold without her heeding the signs and the world became a nightmare of looming shadows and uncanny sounds. She tossed and turned in the grip of the illness, her mind conjuring the intermittent sound of a violin string being plucked. Blinnnng. As soon as she was on the verge of sleep she would hear it. Blinnng. The echo of it lingering in the dark. Half awake, half asleep, all night long, she would be woken by the single sound of a violin string plucked by a sinister hand. She had never been so scared in her life.
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