I received an anonymous note in my mail.

“We are on our way to you,” it said.

Why were they coming? How many were there? Thoughts surrounding the note occupied my mind. I began to stare through binoculars at cars parked near my house. I tried to remember faces I passed on the street so I’d know them if I saw them again.

I searched my memory and reviewed the many things I wished I’d done differently. Faces returned that I preferred to forget. I imagined other notes arriving and dreaded receiving my mail. Would they taunt me? Would they ask if I thought I’d outlived them?

I didn’t answer my phone and listened to the messages reluctantly. One day someone knocked on my door. I looked through the peephole and saw a young man. I opened up.

“Are you interested in Christmas decorations?” he asked.

“It’s early October,” I said.

“Not too soon to look ahead.”

I studied his face for a deeper meaning.

“I’m not interested.”

“No problem.” He waved at me and walked down the steps.

I watched him through a window. He did not look back.

Would they approach in the night and overwhelm me? Would they enter my house while I was gone and lie in wait? Would they ask questions that cornered me in my own mind?

I soon found a second note in my mail.

“Watch yourself,” it said.

I imagined them watching me. I went to the window with my binoculars. Were they tormenting me by remaining unseen? I imagined leaning my ladder against the side of the house and climbing up on the roof, my binoculars in a tote bag slung over my shoulders. I decided against it. Too hard to get up and down at my age.

I noticed a man at my favorite coffeehouse watching me. I paid for my cup of coffee at the counter and was on my way out. His eyes shifted in my direction. I turned and stood at his table.

“What are you looking at?” I asked him.

“What are you looking at?” he asked.

“Why are you watching me?”

You should watch yourself.”

My chest heaved at his last two words. I went out the door, stifling further questions. I stopped at the corner and looked around for eyes on me, knowing that if they were behind windows I’d be unlikely to see them.  I waited, sipping my coffee. He did not emerge from the coffeehouse. I walked away, then feared I hadn’t waited long enough and returned to the corner. I considered walking by the coffeehouse to make sure he was there but rejected the idea because he’d probably see me. I got to my car and drove away, checking my mirrors. I stopped on a residential street close to my house to see if anyone was following me.

What did they want? I wondered. What would they confront me with?

At home, worked up, I sat on my front porch in my Adirondack chair, daring them to approach. Nothing happened. I cursed them as gutless, vowing to ignore them in the future. Days passed. They didn’t show their faces and no more agitating notes appeared in my mail. I spent time on my porch reading a book, just to show them, if they were anywhere near.

I talked myself toward a conclusion, though I couldn’t be sure I believed it. They were never here.

Nevertheless, they are out there.

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