Yes, the supernatural energy that always seems to swirl around Val, just below the surface, was ready to show itself again. The precursors were there. But Val went on her merry way, oblivious to what was in store for her. So oblivious, in fact, that she fell asleep to the warmth and humming of her OPC (Old People Chair).
I know I was watching TV at 2:55 a.m. The next thing I knew, I was cold, my chair no longer vibrated (it goes off after 15 minutes), and the clock hands showed 3:45. I utilized my chair lift (gotta love the OPC!) and gathered my water cups and empty 44 oz cup, and headed upstairs to the kitchen. I plugged in my cell phone to charge over mid-morning. Put some ice in my water cup for overnight. Went to the master bathroom to change into pajamas. And came out of the bathroom shuffling along like a blind mole.
When I come out of the bathroom, with its row of six lights over the sink, like a showgirl might use to put on her makeup backstage...it takes my eyes a minute to adjust. I can't make out the landmarks of the bedroom from the dim glow that comes in through the louvered blinds on the french doors that face out to Poolio in the back yard. Hick has a light mounted under the porch that shines out there. Sometimes.
I make my way across the foot of the bed, careful not to catch a toe on the trunk that resides there, or an errant shoe tossed asunder by Hick. I grab the bed post with my left hand to get my bearings as I turn to approach my nightstand, to set my bubba cup of ice water on it. On the righthand wall is the electric fireplace that Hick installed after The Great Icepocalypse of '06.
That's when I noticed it. A glow out of the corner of my right eye. I turned to look, and saw an orange flicker. Huh. That was something new! Was it a reflection of something from the living room? From Hick's clock radio on his nightstand? What in the Not-Heaven could THAT be? I turned to look right at it, even though I KNOW that night vision is better if you look off to the side a little bit.
IT WAS A CANDLE!
Not a real candle, with a flame licking up the wick, giving off heat and smoke. Nope. It was an intermittent flicker of a battery-operated candle that has sat on a shelf above that fake fireplace mantel for as long as I can remember the mantel being there. Since '06. Because at the time Hick covered that mantel and shelf with all his knick-knacks, I complained. I told him I was NOT dusting all those gewgaws.
The shelf was found by Hick in the attic space over my grandma's garage. She allowed Hick to clean it out for her (she had a bit of ol' Tom Sawyer in her, my grandma!) and keep anything he wanted. All I remember him taking is this mirror and a mummified cat. (Hick has a little bit of ol' Tom Sawyer in HIM, too!) Hick says the mirror hung in Grandma's hall, and he put it into that wooden part, and mounted the little shelf on it. The battery candles he got at an antique store or flea market.
But getting back to this mysterious glow...it was freaky. I had never seen that candle lit up before. I didn't even know it had a battery in it. And in the dark, I didn't really know exactly what that candle looked like. All I knew was that the orange light flickered. All the rest of the morning/night that I was trying to sleep. Every time I opened my eye to peek at it, the orange glow flickered.
When Hick got up during daylight hours, I woke up from his trampoline routine of putting on his socks and shoes by flopping his foot up on the bed.
"Why was that candle over there glowing when I came to bed? It might still be glowing NOW, if you look at it. I can't tell in the light."
"That one. There on the end of the shelf. Did you turn that on last night when you went to bed?"
"Val. I didn't touch those candles!" Hick tromped around the end of the bed and picked it up. "Huh. It's still on." He twisted the top or the bottom or something. "There. Now it's off."
"Why would it be on when I came to bed? Were you messing with it?"
"No! I haven't touched it since the last time I cleaned."
"When was that?"
"I don't know. A couple weeks ago? It's got a battery in it. Maybe that got shook up."
If you look at that picture, you can see the layer of dust around the bottom, from where Hick picked up the candle to turn it off, and put it back. I don't think it was disturbed until he picked it up right then.
I have no idea what made that thing come on, and stay on for hours. It's never been lit up before. I hope it's not lit up again any time soon.