Light Feather Strokes, Ysabel

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EyecropdLight feather strokes, light feather strokes, follow the natural arch, yes, that’s it, fill in the sparseness with light feather strokes. She pauses to smile, then turns the pencil liner a few degrees to allow for a more precise point to touch her brow. Light feather strokes, light feather strokes, she thinks again; the little mantra keeps time, a soothing rhythm that helps to steady her hand.“Drrraaawing!”


“Mom, drrrrraaawing!”

Ysabel breaks eye contact with the mirror to glance down at the stubble-headed boy grinning up at her. She smiles back at him, and his gap-toothed grin widens even more, his light brown eyes crinkle at the corners.

“Yes love, mommy is drawing. My, you’re getting very good with your Rs.”

She bends down to pat his shiny little nose. “Hmmm, let’s see what you have there.”

“Drrraaawing…” The little boy holds up a sheet of brown kraft paper, waves it merrily in the general direction of Ysabel’s face.

“Is that a house, love? With hmm, ah…I guess a fence in front?”

“Nooo, staaarrr!”

“Oh, silly mommy! Of course they’re stars. Yes love, they are. Very pretty stars, too.”


The boy throws the sheet on the ground and plops right on top of it. His chubby hand grounds the red crayon hard into the black stars, creating a crisscross of lines. Bits of red wax immediately find their way onto his cheek. A slight frown creases Ysabel’s brow. Oh let it go, she thinks. Bath time will come soon enough.

Smiling, Ysabel turns back to the mirror to tend to her left brow. Light feather strokes, easy does it, light feather strokes. Oh, I’m getting so good at this, she thinks to herself.

Then suddenly, from the corner of her eye she sees a blur of movement in the mirror, something black and fuzzy streaking across the ceiling. Her hand freezes, pausing midstroke. She shifts focus, her eyes go to the spot in the ceiling that is reflected in the mirror. That should be where the blur went, she thinks. There was nothing there. She blinks and looks again. No, nothing. Not a thing.

Ysabel grips the pencil liner, her knuckles white. Her jaw tightens, the arch of her newly-drawn brows meet in a furrow. Her nostrils flare as her breath quickens.

Swiftly, she checks to see if her son has noticed anything amiss. He is still engrossed in his drawing, trailing bold, thick strokes on the paper, alternating red swirls with stabs of black.

Ysabel inhales deeply, trying to will the frantic thud-thud of her heart to slow down. This awful business has got to stop, she admonishes herself. Last time it was a dark shadow passing her, racing out the door just as she opened it. A few days days ago she swore a man, or at least some thing in the shape of a man ran past the basement windows while she was sorting the laundry.

And what of that strange business in the bank while she was in line at the ATM? Just recalling it made Ysabel’s eyes mist over with scared, angry tears. Why, I dropped my money on the floor that time, yes, I was so startled by that face on the screen. I swear it was sneering at me, what an awful awful man, with such wild eyes. Awful, awful.

Get a grip, Ysabel. Get a grip now, she chides herself. It wont do to start having these things ruin the day now, would it?

Down on hands and knees chasing after the money that flew from your hands, not a pretty sight, no. A loadful of wash drenched with Coke because a shadow scared you witless. And frightening your son with all that shrieking and running. No, that won’t do, Ysabel.

Ysabel turns back to the mirror and forces herself to look. Her eyes travel the entire length of the mirror, going over all corners of the room reflected in it, the neatly-made bed, the wooden span of headboard, the drapes on one wall, the bedside table, her son sprawled on the floor. She knows that if she turns her back to the mirror, the reflection there will come to life. That’s her son on the floor, intent on his drawings, stubby crayons scattered about. From the bedroom window she can hear the hum of a neighbor’s car outside, the husband perhaps, coming home from work right around this time. Everything is as it should be.

Yes, no need for hysterics, Ysabel. Everything’s just fine. No need for the little blue pills tucked away in the underwear drawer, no. No need for them at all. At all, at all. Just let them be. This will be a quiet week, she swears to herself. A quiet week, count on it.

Resolutely, Ysabel meets at her eyes in the mirror. Where was I? Ah yes, left eyebrow. Let’s see now, light feather strokes, easy as pie—steady now, steady—light feather strokes, yes, light feather strokes, light feather strokes.



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