Shirley Harring

writer, farmer advocate, madwoman

A Pause in the Blackness

February 21, 2013

It is still.

It is dark.

It is so very still that the air feels oppressive.  As I get out of bed I notice that my partner does not move. So deep in slumber is he, he could be dead. Unmoving, barely breathing. Only the heat from his body tells me otherwise.

What woke me?

I blink, trying to refocus, encouraging some – any – light from outside into my pupils.

Something heavy is on my legs. The cat.  She, too, is barely moving.

The silence and stillness is eerie.

I raise and walk to the kitchen. I trail my fingertips along the wall as I step, to make sure I do not stumble.

The glow from the intercom illuminates the kitchen, and in the soft neon blueness I see my way to the tap. My favourite blue tumbler is on the sink, waiting.

Greedily, I gulp. So thirsty.

My eyes stray outside the open french doors to the yard.

Barely anything is visible. Still nothing moves. There are no leaves to rustle, no bats to call, no night birds chuffing.

It’s like everything has stopped. Outside my rooms, nothing exists.

Blackness, darkness, stillness, nothing.

I look over to the hound. He too, sleeps the slumber of the almost dead. The tiny rise and fall of his massive black furry chest the only sign his heart beats still.

Too quiet. Too, too quiet. The clock is not ticking – why? The hands tell me it stopped at 2.51. The face tells me nothing.

I drink again, and as I move the glass to the tap to rinse, I hear a soft chink. I run my finger over the lip. I feel the sliver as it enters my finger. Damn. I have chipped it. My favourite glass.

Sucking the blood from my fingers, I pad my way back to my room.

My bedpartner has not moved. The cat has not moved. The clock has not moved. Only I, only I have moved.

I climb back into bed and look around the blackness. It still feels close, cloying, oppressive.

I slide my feet under the cat, pull up the covers and drift back to sleep.


The sound of birds awakens me, a sunshine plays on my arms as it sneaks through the window. The smell of hot tea wafts from the kitchen. The cat, performing her daily ablutions, blinks at me from her spot on the sunny windowsill.

As I walk out to the kitchen, I see the bed partner and the hound out by the pool, playing with palm fronds. The door is closed, locked, the key hangs by the window.

My favourite blue tumbler is in the cupboard behind the glass door. Dry, away, home. Perfect.

Out of the corner of my eye  I see the clock – the small hand sweeps a circle, tocking loudly.

I didn’t stop, it tells me.  You did.


  1. I love the quietness of a house when all else is still in my world except me.

  2. This is quite eerie – the stillness of a deep dark night is what has inspired so many horror stories I guess.

    Oh and btw – you won a photo print – just need your address!

  3. You write so beautifully :) I was really nervous reading this post, I was worried that something bad was going to happen at the end… too many years of reading suspense novels I guess!

    • Nothing bad, Tamsyn.

      However, if you can explain to me how my tumbler returned to the cupboard without the chip, how the door became locked, or even how the clock was restarted, I’d appreciate it.

      Because I still don’t know.

  4. Gosh… freaky. Have you been watching lots of Twilighty-vampirey movies or something? Nice blog refit!

  5. Love the new look. Must say, I was holding my breath, suspense filled (like Tamsyn). No, I cannot explain the freakiness, either??? *insert Twighlight Zone music here*

  6. Spooky. Glad about your glass, though.

  7. It wasn’t really you but the doppelganger you keep under the bed for the alternate universe then at 2.51am the two worlds passed like ships in the night briefly merging.
    Or you et too much cheese before bedtime 😛

  8. An “out-of-bed” experience! They say that three in the morning is the witching hour, when the veil is thinnest…

    I am also glad that all is well.

  9. I’m with the others, creeped out and wondering what was going to happen.

    I must say when you said about the “slither” (which is what my brain saw) from the glass, my first thought was that you had disturbed a cockroach living in your glass and it was running up your finger. I was gagging long before I realised you meant a sliver of glass!

    Such is MY imagination! :)

  10. Ooooh – spooky.
    Do you reckon it must have been a dream?

  11. Sorry I haven’t dropped by in a while. You’ve been busy whilst I’ve been gone and I love your new look blog and focus on writing, photography and food. Your writing is so thought provoking and this piece is very descriptive, eerie and evocative.

  12. Gave me a shiver, ya did.

  13. I have insanely realistic dreams and it often takes me 2-3 minutes upon waking to realise they aren’t real. Which spooks me every time.

  14. Your words are so poetic, I feel like I traced your tacks . I had a clock that would stop and start when ever it felt like it. The sound of the silence is something I am use to now that it has gone from the wall. Hope you are well

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