Friday the thirteenth

Friday the thirteenth is a day of superstition and mystery. Whenever it occurs, it feels special to me, as if anything strange and magical could happen. Traditionally Friday the thirteenth is seen as an unlucky day, but lack of luck can lead to an intriguing story, and that tickles my imagination.

This particular Friday brought an eerie short story to my mind – The stories we used to tell. It was written by Shirley Jackson (1919-65) and published in her collection entitled Dark Tales.  

The stories we used to tell is a mind-bending horror story that investigates themes as entrapment and human nature. A woman visits her recently widowed friend that mysteriously disappears overnight. As the moonlight lights up her friends room the night after the disappearance, the protagonist suddenly sees her friend waving to her from inside an old painting portraying an older version of the house she is in, standing tall against the sky. She very soon finds herself trapped behind the glass of the picture too. The house inside the picture has other residents, old relatives to the friend who were believed to have died a long time ago. Desperate to escape this place inside a place, the two friends wait in the secret of the night, in the quiet hours of the night, telling their stories. They sit together by the gate of the house in the painting, not knowing how long they have been there, hoping for someone to enter the room where the picture hangs to help them escape…

In this short story Jackson plays with time and place, with the concept of home, whilst hardly presenting any clues to where events take place. Her very unique inimitable writing style is ambiguous and surreal. Very seldom am I genuinely unnerved when reading horror and mystery novels, Shirley Jackson is nothing short of brilliant!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this story. Be careful out there today and stay safe!