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There’s something weird going on in my house. It started about two weeks ago. I was getting ready for bed, standing in front of my bathroom mirror. I was brushing my teeth and examining my eyebrows, trying to judge whether it was time to get them waxed again. As I stood there, deep in the routine of my life, the sweet smell of vanilla wafted into the room. It didn’t seem that unusual, surrounded by a variety of scented bath products, but I couldn’t pinpoint which soap or perfume the smell came from.
Over the next three days, the smell of vanilla remained in my bathroom and began to creep down the hallway. I searched my house for anything that could be the cause—a broken bottle of perfume, a coincidentally placed flower bed, a cookie crumb rotting sweetly under a piece of rarely moved furniture. One week later, I still did not have an explanation. The smell was evident in every room, and I was sure I could smell it as I approached my door.
One week ago I lost my keys. I tore my house apart, tracing my steps from the moment I entered the door, when I must have had my keys, to the moment I reached in my zippered jacket pocket to get them, so I could go to the gym. They were gone. I phoned my neighbour to bring me my spare set. When I returned from the gym, I reached back into my zippered pocket, where I planned to keep my spare keys. My house keys were inside, the pocket zipped shut as it always had been, as though nothing had changed in my routine life. Except the smell of vanilla.
Four days ago, as I finished folding laundry in the basement, I heard a loud crash from upstairs. I ran into the kitchen, expecting to find a precariously placed stack of pots and pans that had spilled out of a cupboard and on to the floor. Instead I found a seldom used casserole dish, usually kept in the back of the shelf nearest the floor, was shattered in a million pieces in the centre of the room. As I swept the glass shards into the garbage, the smell of vanilla surrounded me.
Two nights ago, I awoke with a start around 2 AM. I held my breath, listening for any sound that may have brought me out of a sound sleep. The room was silent, but I did not feel like I was alone. I felt eyes on me in the dark, and the hair on my arms stood on end. I reached over to the lamp on my bedside table, flipping the switch quickly, hoping to catch my visitor. I was alone. Every piece of furniture, every shadow, was the same as it always had been. Except for the smell of vanilla.
This morning, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror again, brushing my teeth and checking for dry skin on my forehead. The constant smell of vanilla enveloped me. The bathroom door stood wide open behind me, providing a full view of the hallway. As I brushed I heard another sound, a slow shuffle. I stopped, holding my breath.
In a sudden moment, with violent force, the bathroom door slammed shut behind me.
I’ve been watching the doorknob, certain that this time I am not alone. There is something on the other side.
Thank God I brought my phone in with me.