Relief floods me extravagantly only when I have managed to extricate the charger from the tangle of wires it lies perpetually in, plugged it into my laptop and switched on all the lights, banishing the eerie red glow of the clay courts of Roland Garros. A bag of chips, the comfort food of the Gods and the couch potatoes, sits plump and invitingly beside me.
When I stand at the door, rummaging for the key, something doesn’t feel right. The key isn’t where it should be-it is displaced by a considerable distance- and I turn it gingerly in the keyhole. I fumble for the light switch, invariably turning on all the others before coming to the correct one. A faint whirring sound comes from within. Bag still on my shoulders, I pass warily into the bedroom, its source, and find the fan turned on. The beds are empty and the curtains are drawn apart on the clear glass windows. The wind begins to rise amidst the trees and bicycles trundle ominously on the concrete downstairs. On dark nights, the most practical mind can conjure up implausible images.
Do I smell an intruder? I reach a hand out to turn the fan off- but maybe I should check the house for a break-in and missing valuables before I unwittingly rub some incriminating evidence off the switchboard. But I cannot think of anything valuable within the house, so I shrug and give up and turn off the fan, my bag still on my shoulders. It gives me a sense of adventure, this lurking around with my ‘knapsack’ through the ‘ruins’ (secure in the knowledge that the owners of this house are not reading this) of an abandoned- okay, empty- house, looking for a burly, muscled man who might have hidden himself under a bed or in the bathroom. No Catherine Morland was ever more influenced by Udolpho, and as the pictures get more explicit and graphic in detail, my imagination suddenly resents its hyperactivity.
I dump my bag on my bed and check the bathroom carefully. Clear. I go to the hall and turn on the television- and could this be the source of my inexplicable premonition, the gloomy sense of foreboding? Justine Henin and Samantha Stosur have won a set apiece in their fourth round match at the French Open, and are now trading breaks in the third. The Queen of Clay is on the verge of a historic loss, about to give up a crown she has laid claim to an astonishing four times. Could this really be happening, I ask myself in dismay. The refulgent clay court suddenly loses its charm and begins to look sinister, and I quickly turn the hall light on.
At this point, I have a sneaky doubt if my blatant derision of Paranormal Activity could have anything to do with the impossible flights of my imagination. I come up with a resolution:
I will not watch horror movies for a month.
And promptly chuck it out of the window. Tonight is a new night.