Gwen Mason juggles her workload as a grad school student and her new life as a newlywed. Her neighbor Carol Shaeffer provides pleasant company at first. But when the visits become intrusive, Gwen wonders if she’ll ever be free of this woman.
Plagued by migraines after every visit, Gwen begins to suspect something sinister is at the root of them. And after she finds out her neighbour has lied to her, she is afraid. Really afraid.
Gwen looked now at Carol’s mousy hair and felt a streak of compassion. “You’d look good with some curl around your face.”
“How about shopping tomorrow?” Carol blurted out. “There’s a big bargain bin sale at the Fashion Mart.”
Gwen hated a sale at that discount store because it resembled guerrilla warfare. But sometimes they did have environmental T-shirts really cheap. “Sure,” Gwen conceded, “but I have to study tonight.”
“Okay,” Carol said, looking intently at Gwen and finally frowning. “You don’t look too good, honey. You’d better rest tonight so’s we can go out tomorrow.”
“I’m just tired,” Gwen answered. “I’ve this big exam tomorrow. I need to memorize a bunch of formulas.”
Carol moved her face closer to Gwen’s. “Still, you look strained around your eyes. Sure you’re not reading too much? Or maybe you need a bigger watt bulb in your lamp.”
Carol and her motherliness—sometimes it was nice, sometimes— She clucked at Gwen all the time, and more so lately since the headaches haunted her. Right now, though, Gwen actually felt fine. She turned from Carol and stooped to put away the plastic grocery bags under the sink. No. She felt a dull ache on one side of her head and suddenly a raging thirst dried out her throat. She marveled at how dehydrating those headaches were. Sometimes thirst was the only sign a bad headache was on the way.
Quickly, Gwen stood and filled a tumbler with water from the tap, gulping it down. The nausea began slowly as only queasiness but built quickly the longer she stood in her kitchen with Carol. This headache steamrolled through her skull.
“I need to lie down.” Gwen heard her voice tight and clipped as she moved around Carol.
“That bad, huh? You go rest. You’ll be all right by tomorrow. I’ll let myself out.”
Gwen waved her hand at Carol and headed to the bedroom where she drew the drapes and stretched out on the bed.