Alex Pickett


For almost a week I knew someone was filming our house at night. The first night, sitting at the table eating dinner, I got a feeling in my bones. The second night I went to the window before we started eating, threw back the curtains, and stared out until my wife sat down and served herself pork tenderloin. The next three or four nights I searched just before or after we ate until finally, on Friday, I went to the window during dinner and my wife asked what I was doing. I told her. She said, thinking about it, that she had had the same feeling all week too. She got up and stood next to me at the window. We turned off the lights and stared, every so often cupping a hand to the glass, thinking we saw the green light of a camera in the periphery of our vision, only to have it go away when we tried to pinpoint it, like looking directly at an individual star. We stood there so long that when we finally returned to the table our venison had cooled and toughened and we were unable to continue eating it.

"Who eats venison anyway?" I asked, poking the meat experimentally with my fork.

"You don't like it?"

"I don't know. Just who eats it? It was fine I guess."

There was a pause. I said, "Maybe I should go out there, check it out." She knows I'm afraid of walking out onto the ice and I wanted her to dissuade me, but we both just sat there at the table a while longer eating limp asparagus.



This was our first winter on the lake. My wife and I had moved out there from Philadelphia the previous summer after I was fired from my job. We had lived in Philly for sixteen years. Neither of us had ever lived outside of Pennsylvania, and the lake we moved to was outside a mid-sized town in eastern Ohio. We both said we'd always wanted to live on a lake though, and we weren't getting younger so here was our chance. I got a job counseling at a prison out there and Judy, my wife, is a massage therapist so she can work anywhere. Not quite a blessing in disguise, we said back then, but an opportunity. When we said this I'm pretty sure we both believed it, but by the time this camera thing happened I know I wasn't quite sure. 

In Philadelphia I had been a guidance counselor at a high school. For a long time our life was as good as we could have expected. I had summers off and since my wife's work was flexible and we were childfree we traveled a lot. During the school year my job mostly involved college advising and handing out pamphlets on teen pregnancy and referring kids to the substance abuse therapist. Kids in that school had their own psychologists to go to for real problems. I wasn't even really supposed to get into their personal lives—I was told that. That was in my job description. I was basically an intermediary. Still, I liked it. The kids called me "Mr. D" and asked me to come to their sporting events and plays. Parents would call and thank me for helping their son or daughter get into college. Teachers spoke more openly to me because I was supposed to be understanding. At Christmas, all kinds of people came to my office and gave me cards and snacks and little gifts. 

But then four students killed themselves in the same semester. I was fired. All that unremarkable nicety went away. After that we—well, I—needed to get out of town. The story was in the papers. I would never get hired around there again. I had met with all four of those kids that semester. I considered each student in that school like—well, not like my own child, but close, like a niece or nephew. To lose four of them was too much to take. We lived near the school and for months I couldn't bring myself to leave the apartment because of the looks I'd get on the street. My isolation became so extreme that Judy started scheduling appointments at home so I wouldn't be alone all day.

It was Judy who first suggested that we move, get a fresh start, even though I knew she hoped we'd live in Philly forever. She didn't say it in a hurtful way and I truly don't think she blamed me, but I did hear her muffled sobs coming from the bathroom that night. I'm aware now that I didn't consider her role in all this enough or about how she was affected by my actions. She was a victim as well, but because she didn't perform her suffering, it was easy to overlook that she was in pain. At the time it was convenient for me to forget about her. Maybe I felt I couldn't heap more blame upon myself than I already was. Though I've gone over it and know I didn't do anything egregiously wrong. I followed every protocol. There just wasn't enough to go on. There was no talk of death or suicide, no obvious substance abuse, they weren't overly critical of themselves or preoccupied with their failures. They were kids who had it in them. I'm not sure that anyone in the world could explain why they did it or that anyone could have helped them. Not that I am blameless. I had the opportunity to help those kids and, while I don't believe I actively contributed to their deaths, I obviously did not do enough to save them. 

I invited the first kid in because a teacher expressed concerns about a change in her behavior. But when she (her name was Hannah) refused to speak I felt the need to talk through the gaps. Dealing with silence has always been my weakest point as a therapist. And because I was used to giving college and career advice, I launched into my go-to story about how I started my adult life as a roofer. I told her how I would be up on roofs, day after day looking at the leathery, sun-ravaged skin and twisted backs of the older guys on the crew. I described them like they were trolls. "And not even that old. Forty, forty-five," I said, then I laughed and added, "but I guess to you that's pretty old." 

She only stared at me when I said this. And in my interviews later with the school board and state counseling board I never mentioned how she looked, how she had this profoundly bored expression on her face and how that threw me off and made me too depressed to finish the story. The whole story I usually told includes how I started going to school at nights, even putting myself through graduate school while roofing. But when she looked at me like that I couldn't bring myself to finish the story, or say much of anything really. Her naked expression of pained boredom penetrated me, made me briefly understand how useless my life up until then had been and how I was kidding myself if I thought I had ever really accomplished anything. 

I stopped telling the story after that. Even so, another student killed himself later that same month. I honestly don't remember what I said to him. I only met with him briefly about a dip in his grades. After that I got the yips and often couldn't bring myself to speak coherently when students were in my office, instead spouting non-sequiturs and trailing off in the middle of sentences. I started referring every student to someone else. Still, there were two more. 

What my relationship to these deaths is on a cosmic level I don't know. As perhaps the last person they came to for help, I do feel somehow deeply related to each of them. I think I am in their debt without the means to repay. But for me, practically, it meant the end of my job and our home of sixteen years and, for a long time, my peace of mind. Each night for nearly two years I woke up every few hours with a knot in my chest thinking about those kids. And then we moved and, about six months later, I started sleeping through the night. I believe this began just after the first snow when I found myself looking forward to waking up and seeing that serene, snow-covered lake out our bedroom window. It was not long after I started sleeping normally that the business with the camera started. I'm aware that the feeling I was being filmed was probably related to my newfound sense of relief—it was no coincidence that the very lake I looked forward to seeing each morning was in turn watching and recording me—yet I have still never been more sure of anything in my entire life. The camera was as real to me as math or when I open my palm and examine my own hand.



I came home from work one night about a week and a half after we started looking for the camera and Judy was walking around the edge of the lake on snowshoes. She waved when I pulled up.

"Where'd you get snowshoes?" I called to her.

"They were in the shed," she called back.

"You rascal!" I said.

I walked towards her, my feet sinking into the snow. I was excited to be home after a day at the prison and was glad for a reason to linger outside, since it gave me an excuse to survey the lake in the daylight in order to search for the camera. But as soon as I got around the garage I saw she was talking to a man sitting on a snowmobile parked farther out on the lake. I cursed myself for calling her a rascal. That's just a stupid nicknamey thing you say when you and your wife are alone. When I was nearer I saw his snowmobile was tiger striped and his suit was fire engine red. The thought of this guy living close by sapped my strength. I nodded.

"Say," Judy said, looking quickly over at the guy, "do you know anything about someone filming the lake at night?"

"This lake? Who'd want to film this lake?" the guy said.

"Geoff thinks someone is filming our house at night," Judy said, nodding at me but still looking at him. "He has a feeling."

"No," I said, a touch more desperation than I wanted in my voice. "I don't. I know they aren't. It's stupid."

"Film the actual lake?" the guy said, taking off his helmet and setting it on his lap, revealing a weathered face and thin sweaty hair. "Can you do that at night? Night vision maybe."

"No, our house," I said. "It's stupid. Please forget about it."

"You do have this feeling though," she said and looked at me sternly, but with a little smile. She turned back towards the guy and said, "He gets up at dinner to look and we keep the blinds closed all night."

I wanted to point out that she had also been getting up at dinner and at least said she felt the same thing. That she denied it now and seemed to blame me for doing it hurt and I realized with shame that she had just been being polite the past few nights. 

"Who is it?" the guy said, concerned. His quick leap to believing such an implausible story led me to assume he was a conspiracy theorist. "Think they're filming my house? I mean, they can, I guess." 

My wife shrugged and they both looked at me. I didn't say anything, thinking this was the best way to stop talking about it. 

"Anyways," he said, dipping his head down towards my wife's snowshoes, "edge of the water's the most dangerous part." I was already uneasy that they were both on the ice and when he said the word "dangerous" I took an extra step back away from the lake.

"Thought I should come by and warn you," he added.

"I thought it was frozen solid," she said, looking down.

"It is," he said. "Still, edge of the water's the least frozen."

Judy should have said something in reply. Thanked him maybe. But she stayed quiet. I really wanted someone to talk but was too surprised by the snowshoes and this guy's presence to think of anything to say myself.

Eventually the guy said, "How was the venison?"

Judy nodded.

Soon after this he left, drove straight away towards where our lake connected to another lake under a small bridge. We watched until his snowmobile became a speck and then disappeared. 

"That guy," I said when even the sound went away. 

"What about him?" 

"See that helmet? That getup? Think he could be the one out here at night?"

"I'm not so sure anyone's out here," she said, keeping her eyes down as she stomped a snowshoe down hard on the snow and ice.

I looked at her incredulously, and then softened. It was absurd to think we were being filmed, I knew even then, but it was so real to me that I was shocked she could have any doubt. It took me a minute to come to grips with this confirmation that I was now alone in my belief. I also began to wonder who that guy really was and why Judy hadn't told me that he had provided us with the venison. That the two of them were out on the ice together with their secret was almost as unnerving as being filmed.

"Still," I said, "the guy looks like an idiot."

That night during dinner we didn't go to the window. I didn't ask her about the venison. I wanted to know why she treated me like I was crazy as soon as someone else was around. Maybe, I thought, she was just tired of spending so much of her energy on me when she had problems of her own. I didn't say anything. I only tried to keep myself from craning my head around to get a look at the lake.



Sometimes I share too much about my own life with my patients. It's always been an issue. It feeds into my other problem of having to talk through silences. I'm aware that sharing personal information with prisoners isn't a great idea. I try to stop myself. But once I slipped and told an inmate about how my former students killed themselves. 

He must have told the other prisoners, because some of the guys who came to see me after that refused to say a word and made threatening faces if I began to speak. I assumed they thought I could kill them by talking. Or, just as likely, they thought I was a lousy therapist. That's certainly fair. It's not as though they're all so forthcoming anyway. Some of them were looking for an excuse not to talk. For the record, I'm not saying I'm bad at my job. I've helped many inmates. A few of them have even called to thank me after they were released. But during sessions I quickly learned not to speak unless the prisoner said something first. After what happened in Philadelphia this probably wasn't the worst idea anyway. I had to learn to deal with the silence.

But there was one guy, Terrence, who asked me straight out about it. He was in his early thirties, African American, in for robbery—his second stint in prison. Our first couple meetings he stayed quiet. As we sat in silence during our third meeting I kept a game of hearts up on my computer screen, thinking long and hard about each move. Hearts was my new strategy to get me through the silent stretches without saying something I would later regret.

"Is it true what they say about you?" he asked suddenly, halfway through our meeting.

I had just gotten rid of my queen, and was startled. "Excuse me?" I said.

"You really kill those kids?" he asked.

"The kids at my old school?" I said. "No. They killed themselves. I was just their counselor."

"Right," Terrence said, as though I confirmed what he originally said.

"I'm sorry?" I asked.

"OK, so you didn't kill them kill them, like you didn't slit their throats, but you must have said something to make them do it, right?"

"Not necessarily," I said, a little defensively. "Kids have all kinds of pressures. And you know, you don't have to worry about anything when you're talking with me. It's absolutely impossible that—"

"But what'd you say?"

"I don't know," I said. "No. Well, the first one I just told about my life, how I became a guidance counselor."

I told him the story about the men on the roofing crew. It might actually pertain to inmates better than high schoolers, since counseling is definitely a step up for them. This time I told the whole thing, including how I worked my way through college. I ended the story by saying, "I realized the other day that I'm the same age as those older guys now. And look," I spread my hands out in front of me, "no calluses, my back is fine, my skin is soft." 

It was the first time I had told the story since I told it to Hannah, the first girl to kill herself. It felt good, like I was unburdening myself. I was relieved to see it was a harmless, slightly boring story. And I was glad to tell it because I did realize that about my hands a few days before. I was proud they were soft and held them up like that perhaps too long, turning them back and forth. 

"Man, you didn't kill anybody," he said, annoyed.

"I know. That's what I've been saying," I said, putting my hands down.

"Lame-ass story."

"Did you want me to have killed someone?" I said. "Isn't it better that I didn't?"

"Shit, I don't know."

"No, it would be better, for you, if I had, right?" I said. "It's more interesting if that ability actually exists in the world and if you're in the presence of it. And if I had killed someone, it adds something to these meetings, right? It's mystery. But the ability to kill someone by telling them a story doesn't exist. Does this make sense?"

"Dude's just talking," Terrence said, rolling his eyes.

I wanted to continue, to explain, but our time was up.



It was dark by the time I got home. I pulled my car into the driveway and then turned it so the headlights shined onto the lake. For a minute I watched, trying to see if anyone was filming. I searched alone now, instead of at dinner, and I stopped talking about it with Judy. But my faith was as strong as ever. The previous night while taking out the garbage I heard someone cough out there and it didn't come as a surprise but only served as confirmation. As I was sitting in the car Judy opened the door and got in.

"Wasn't sure you got my texts," she said, shivering and stamping her feet on the passenger-side floor mat.

I looked at my phone and saw three new texts. 

"Yep," I said, my voice higher pitched than normal.

"You know which is his house?" she asked.


"Stan's. For dinner."

I pulled out and started driving. I didn't, and don't, know why I just pulled out and drove like that. Maybe I wanted to be on the same page with her for as long as possible before I had to admit that I had no idea where I was going.

As I drove she told me that Stan came by that morning and asked if we'd come over for dinner, and that she had no reason to not accept the offer.

"Wait a minute, who's Stan?" I asked.

"Our neighbor. Snowmobile guy," she said.

"Jesus. Him?"

"It would have been rude to say no after he gave us all that venison," she said.

I decided not to press her about why she didn't tell me where the venison came from, why I had to hear it from Stan out on the lake that day. It really bothered me though. It should have been the kind of thing we laughed about over dinner. Guy riding up on a snowmobile and giving us a bunch of venison. In Philly that would have led to days of jokes. But maybe the gesture worried her, made her realize that she now lived in a place where it's normal for people to give you venison. She was having a hard time adjusting to life here, I could tell. She missed her friends and was having trouble getting work. Massage is an intimate business and finding new clients can be difficult. I knew all this weighed heavily on her. I decided to let the venison thing go. 

At Stan's we ate stew. Possibly venison stew—we never asked. Things started off slow and, after drinking two glasses of wine and half a beer, I told Stan why we moved to the lake. I didn't often bring up what happened, even to Judy, but suddenly I felt the need to talk about it, maybe because I actually wanted to like Stan. It turned out that something about him—perhaps his guilelessness—appealed to me. I wanted to share something intimate to become closer. He was, after all, my neighbor, and we might well live next to each other for much of our lives. So I told him about the kids killing themselves. Judy quickly added that it wasn't my fault of course.

"They're kids. Cyber bullying and hormones. They don't have a chance," she said to Stan. 

"It's never easy," Stan said.

"What do you do, Stan? For work," I asked. Suddenly I lost my nerve and wanted to change the subject.

"Construction in the summer. Unemployment now," Stan said.

"So," Judy said, smiling at him and then me, "we're both out of work."

"You know I used to roof, Stan?" I asked, changing the subject again.

Stan was at the refrigerator, getting us both another beer. He shook his head and laughed for some reason.

"I always hated it—the heat, the heights," I said. "Funny thing is, when this was going down, this stuff with the kids," I said, plunging back in, feeling reckless, "all I could think of was how I'd have to go back to roofing. I remember after the third one I thought how I was one kid away from having to go back into roofing."

"He was a scapegoat," Judy said to Stan. "It's not like anyone thought he actually did anything wrong. The kids loved him. He got a very nice severance package."

"But Stan," I looked him straight in the eye, my face got hot, "all I was thinking was how I was one kid away from going back to roofing. It scared the shit out of me. There's something wrong with that, right?"

I had never told any of this to Judy before and couldn't bring myself to look at her. For a while nobody spoke. I was proud of myself for allowing the silence. I wanted to give them the opportunity to reassure me that I wasn't a terrible person, or even to register their disgust at my selfishness. I almost hoped they would reprimand me. The confirmation of my awfulness might well have provided more relief.

After a minute, Judy pointed at a painting on Stan's wall of a stout man in a black bowler hat and asked, "Who's that?" 

"I don't know," Stan said. "Just liked the picture."

And thus the moment passed without comment on my confession. As we finished our stew and our drinks Stan went into detail about his stove and how he cut his own wood with a mechanized chopper that I was welcome to use. I was still unsettled that nobody answered my question, but did manage to thank him since I considered it a generous offer. 

Later, as we were putting on our boots to leave, Stan remembered something, held up a finger, and told us to wait. He ran into a back room and then ran back in, proudly holding up a black disk.

"The hell's that?" I asked, though I could feel myself pale as it became clear.

"I'm no expert, but . . ." he trailed off as he placed the lens cap in my hand. 

"Where'd you find this?" I asked, my voice hoarse.

"Edge of the lake. Way out. Over by the bait and tackle on the west end. Still, interesting, right? Think it's them?" He nodded earnestly as he spoke. 

It felt nice to be believed, but I was too overwhelmed to speak. I only muttered something before opening the door to leave. I was, however, touched by the gesture, especially how he ran back to his room like that, his boots clomping on the wood floor.

I placed the lens cap in the center console of the car. About halfway home Judy picked it up, lowered the window, and dropped it out. We didn't say a word to each other the rest of the night. 



The next day I found out that an inmate had killed himself the night before. It wasn't an entirely unusual occurrence for a prison, but this was the first time it had happened since I began working there. After I heard the news I closed the door to my office and cried for fifteen straight minutes. 

All I could think was that it was starting all over again. I almost called Judy but didn't want to get her hopes up that we might be forced to move again. After all, I could be a roofer in Philly as easily as anywhere else. Plus, with all she had done for me and with all she had to endure on my behalf, I couldn't make her bear the weight of another crisis. I dried my face and went out the door.

 "Was it Terrence?" I asked the counselor in the office next to mine. 

It wasn't. And it wasn't my patient, though I did do his evaluation when he was first admitted five months before.

All day I sat at my desk waiting to be called in to the head of the psych unit's office. I was sure I was in some way involved. Perhaps, I thought nonsensically, Terrence told my roofing story to the guy who killed himself. I knew it didn't matter if he had, and yet I felt the overwhelming need to confess. I looked down at my soft hands and saw them as an indictment, as the hands that killed five people. I imagined myself as I otherwise would have been, with leathery skin and constant back pain, but strong and capable and responsible for building roofs that kept people safe. 

Around three I got a call from a Dr. Hammer, a chiropractor. He asked for my wife and then said she gave my number as an alternate contact. I don't think I said anything except that I was her husband. He asked if I could tell her to give him a call. He said they'd have a room available for her in a week. A room? He said a room in the office, to give massages, so they could share clients. I said I would give her the message. 

This news heartened and frightened me. Judy would be so happy to start working again, to get to know people around here, to have a real purpose. We could begin to get our new life on track. But this most recent suicide was a reminder of how quickly things could be taken away by circumstances outside of our control. How our lives are connected and watched over in ways we don't consider. How we are responsible for each other in ways we don't intend or imagine. I began thinking that maybe a camera on me was a good thing. Maybe it showed that I didn't mean to do anything wrong, that I had no ill intentions. Maybe it was proof not of my guilt but of my innocence. 

I then looked up Dr. Hammer online and was only momentarily dismayed that he was about my age and had no obvious facial deformities. I searched some more to see if he was gay, but that's a tough thing to figure out online. After about a half hour I stopped typing and lifted my hands from the keyboard. I would let this go. My wife had been through so much and I wouldn't ruin this for her. I had to let this go.



That night Judy and I celebrated her partnership with Dr. Hammer by eating at the Chinese place in town. We drank a bottle of wine with dinner and every time we poured more I toasted her. I didn't tell her about the suicide at the prison. There was no reason to shift the focus from her success.

At home we switched to drinking Manhattans. Soon we stumbled upstairs and when Judy went to close the curtains I said, "Why?" She smiled and left them open. 

Later, when Judy was asleep, I got up and dressed and went outside to the shed. The people we bought the house from left all kinds of things in there, like those snowshoes Judy was horsing around with. But I had no interest in walking out on the ice. Instead I grabbed an old stepladder, leaned it against the roof, and climbed.

It's not smart to go up on a snowy roof, especially one as peaked as ours. And yet there I was. In fact, I realized, this was the first roof I had stood on since I quit roofing. After I quit I had vowed never to step on another roof again. Well, I thought, that was a stupid vow so not so bad to have broken it. 

I shuffled up higher, almost to the top, and could see the entire lake. It was deathly quiet and dark, the half-moon behind clouds, and though I searched for the camera I couldn't see anything definitive. I steadied myself as best as I could and waved both hands above my head as I called out, "Hello!" 

I waited a bit and was pretty sure nothing was coming back until I heard a voice off in the distance yell, "Get down from there you'll break your neck!"

Yeah, I don't believe I heard it either. I was drunk and hearing things. Or if I did it was probably someone out taking a late-night hike. Or Stan fucking with me. Or whatever. It doesn't matter. The point is that up there I believed the hell out of it. I had no doubts. And to my surprise I was overjoyed. I stood up straight and was about to call back, to ask who they were and why they were out there and how long they were going to stay. But then my foot slipped a bit on the icy roof and I knew I had to get down. I was drunk and if I fell I could die out there. It was very cold.



That weekend I went to Stan's to use his woodchopper. Judy stayed back because she was busy preparing for her new job. She seemed to like that I was spending time with Stan though and teased me about it all day before I left. She got a kick out of it when I made new friends.

After chopping, Stan and I drank beer in his kitchen. Our conversation quickly waned.

"I was thinking about what you said the other night," he said after a significant silence that I was determined not to fill. "About roofing."

"No," I said, as though his comment was open to disagreement. "It was a stupid story to tell then. I was drinking. Roofers are fine. It's a fine profession."

"Was just going to say that you're right. Roofing sucks. I hate the roofers I've worked with. Leathery assholes." He was more vehement in his dislike of roofers than I ever was to him. I suspected his passion was an effort to get on my good side. He added, "I can't stand it. Goddamn hot up there. I can see why you wouldn't want to go back."

I appreciated these sentiments more than Stan would ever know. 

We told roofing and construction stories until it was dark outside. When we exhausted the subject, Stan asked, "You still think someone's videotaping your house?"

I laughed. "I do. It's stupid. The funny thing is that I'm starting not to mind. It's almost like it gives the things I do more meaning, if that makes any sense." I realized I might be a little drunk.

"Want to go look?" he asked. 

"How?" I asked. Then I remembered the snowmobile and said, "It's fine. I shouldn't give in to these kinds of ideas."

"The hell not? Come on. I got an extra suit," he said. I could tell he was excited.

"The ice? It can't support both of us on that thing," I said.

"That ice could hold up a house," he said.

I turned and looked out the window. 



I wiped the fog off my visor with a gloved hand. We sped off. 

Since I couldn't see well enough to be properly frightened, the situation quickly struck me as hilarious. We were two grown, drunk men skimming over the ice in an extremely dangerous glorified children's toy, searching for a camera that could not possibly exist. At first I tried not to laugh and then realized Stan couldn't hear me anyway. 

The worst part ended up being how I had to grip Stan around the waist because the handrails behind the seat were loose. Other than that I nearly enjoyed myself. The white-noise-like squeal of the engine drowned out all other sounds, and that, combined with my fogged-over visor, meant that I existed in a state of deprived sensation. Considering this now, it sounds terrifying, or at least boring, but it was somehow nice. I had no control. I was hurtling forward and yet sat completely still. I became so lulled that, before I could stop myself, I actually rested my helmeted head on Stan's back.

When I did this he came to a stop. I immediately straightened and took my head and arms away.

"I don't see it," he said.

"It's out here," I said. I wanted him to keep driving so he would forget what I had done. But then I took my helmet off and saw that we were in the center of the lake, far from shore. The view was incredible. What little light there was reflected off the snow, lifting it like a fog. It was so beautiful I forgot that I was scared of the ice. I felt a surge of emotion and said, "Can't you feel it? It's definitely out here."

"Yeah, maybe I can," he said, unsure, like a conspiracy theorist being shown facts that contradicted his beliefs.

"It is," I said. A little out of my head with beer and adrenaline, I dismounted and stepped onto the ice. Stan turned off the snowmobile.

What followed was a silence so absolute that it was difficult to consider it silence at all. It was more like how the absence of taste in perfectly clean water means the presence of purity. If only I could inhabit this calm, I thought. On the ice, in the silence, looking out at the glowing snow that was crisscrossed with animal and snowmobile tracks, what I usually only saw as danger and discomfort became relief. 

I was about to tell Stan to go home so I could experience the lake by myself. I didn't want to worry about who was watching me. But before I could speak I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a light.

I turned towards it assuming it was the camera getting into position for the night. I wanted to greet the operator, thank them for all they had done, let them know that without them I would never be out here. But then I saw it was just Judy turning on the porch light, illuminating the path from the driveway. Behind me I heard Stan turn the key and push a button. The machine roared to life. The spell was broken. I could not stay out there any longer. It was time to go home.