Dark Corners


sf_daphne_icon.gif sf_yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Dark Corners
Synopsis Yi-Min sees what lurks in the darkness, just out of focus but never out of mind.
Date January 13, 2021

Red Hook, Brooklyn

The meeting spot is the same as it is every other Wednesday: a coffee shop in Red Hook, exactly halfway between the Rose and Trellis and The Breaking Pint. Yi-Min arrives first this time, which isn’t uncommon. Daphne tends to run a little late most of the time, a minute or two behind schedule on the best of days. Their favorite table is available, one in the corner that overlooks the water and the Statue of Liberty where she oversees the harbor.

The coffee here isn’t the fancy sort with names that end in italian suffixes, but straight from either a pot with a black handle or an orange handle, and the mugs are already on the table upside down and ready to be turned upright by the customer to indicate they’d like some. Laminated menus held between the napkin holder and the wall offer a limited array of coffee-shop foods, though all of it is good and hearty, or the owner wouldn’t be able to keep up the rent for such a good spot.

As Yi-Min waits for her friend, a shadow seems to fall against her left side, caught by the corner of her eye. But when she turns, expecting to see the friendly waitress in her old-fashioned diner uniform, nothing is there.

At first, the fleeting quality of the shadow is such that Yi-Min thinks fairly little of it, even when she consciously registers that she is still alone at her table with only her imagination for company.

It isn't until she realizes that she is pressing her hand to the side of her eyelid in a moment of marked, lingering annoyance— as though to brush away a small insect or a large speck of dust— that the sense of déjà vu falls over her all at once.

An aura of deadly calm begins stealing across her then, and her next exhalation is very slow. No. This old thing couldn't be happening again. Could it?

The shadow lingers when she takes her hand away, like it might when a clump of mascara has accumulated in the corner of the eye. But this isn’t that. Sitting still, she gets the sense that it isn’t just a blot or a blind spot.

It feels like a presence.

She feels the urge to turn and look, even knowing there is no one there. But she doesn’t have time to consider it too long, because the door opens to the cafe, and with it the bright and cheerful voice belonging to her friend, calling across the little shop like no one else is there trying to have a cup of coffee in peace.

“There you are, you fabulous son of a bitch!”

As if they don’t meet at the same cafe at the same time every fourteen days. Last time, it was “Where have you been all my life, you gorgeous beast?”

Daphne Millbrook, with her bright platinum locks and in today’s bright-red coat, is not a subtle being.

She slides into the seat across from Yi-Min and turns the cup over to indicate, yes, she certainly would like some coffee, then leans forward on her elbows. “Guess who got the re-fi?” And she waits, as if she really wants Yi-Min to guess this very easy question.


Putting that amount of emphasis on the greeting is an indicator of how glad Yi-Min is to see her friend.

Her gorgeously loud distraction of a friend. God. Thank the heavens.

Quirking one of her brows up with a dryly welcoming smile, Yi-Min folds her forearms onto the surface of the table as she focuses all her attention in on Daphne. A little more narrowly and intensely than usual, perhaps— after all, she is also stoically pretending to herself that all the hairs aren't currently standing up on the back of her neck.

This is fine.

"No. I have literally no idea. Please, do tell me."

In a perfectly dry deadpan, Daphne answers, “Irene McGreedy. Lives in the brownstone three doors down from me. It’s really about time, too. They were paying four percent, can you imagine?

But then she grins, turning it upward to the server who comes by with the coffee pot and a smile, topping off Yi-Min if she needs it, before quietly heading back to the counter.

“Thanks, Marjorie! Always good to chat,” Daphne calls after the taciturn woman, before turning her sparkling dark eyes back on Yi-Min. “So what’s new with you? Any exciting floral gossip to dish out?” she asks.

In a stark contrast to Daphne’s cheerful presence and pale-bright appearance, Yi-Min can still glimpse the shadow at her side, distracted or not. The inky darkness seems to be more formed — now like a person, with a roundness where a head would be and stretching into a more oblong form that could be a body beneath. If there were a person there, it would be short, standing just a little taller than her seated self.

If she were to turn to look and if there were actually a person standing there.

The urge to turn, to look, is strong, compelling even.

Yi-Min can imagine it perfectly, in fact, but she shakes her head with a rather dryly, dutifully murmured, “Noo,” as if she truly can't. The cup of coffee sitting by her forearm has gone practically untouched up until now, but she flits her gaze up at Marjorie in thanks for the gesture anyway.

As the waitress departs, Yi-Min also can't help but snort silently at Daphne's cheerful parting snipe at her back, but whatever exciting floral gossip she had been planning to dive into following the next prompt dies on her lips.

For a moment, she neither speaks nor turns her head, caught between fear rising at the back of her throat and her simultaneous impulse to pretend normalcy.

Finally, the fear wins out. And she looks.

When her head turns, she can see it. See him. Shadowy, at first, but becoming clearer, stands a young boy, round-faced with dark hair and a familiar shirt, a pajama top, one she’s seen so many times in her own past, one she’d even folded with her own small hands when she’d helped her mother with the laundry as a little girl.


His eyes are closed or downcast and his skin looks too pale, grayish and wan, even as the colors of his shirt become more clear to her, more like they had been so many years ago, the green and blue just a little fainter than her memory of them, as if they’d been faded by the sun. If she didn’t know better, Yi-Min would think he was a ghost.

Like a mirror of her own, his face turns toward her as hers does him. When his lids lift, his eyes, which should be sharp and dark, are glazed over. Gray and lifeless.

He’s only there for that short moment it takes for her to turn her head; once she tries to focus on him, he’s gone, just that hint of a shadow in his place.



The mug of coffee that Marjorie had just topped up goes flying in a sudden, nerveless jerk from Yi-Min's hand, sending its scalding contents runneling straight over the table's edge. The cracked mug barely avoids the same fate, lolling to a gradual stop on its side as it empties.

Yi-Min barely notices any of this.

"Shenme," she gasps aloud. What.

Only after a torturous minute has passed does she let some of her peripheral attention stray back towards Daphne, as though her friend is an afterthought— her gaze itself never leaves the sight of the apparition. A breathless, beseeching tone creeps into the way she forms her next words, as though she is desperate for any confirmation beyond her own senses. "…Do you see this?"

Daphne jumps up when the coffee mug goes flying, whatever she had been saying lost to the flies on the wall, as she stares at Yi-Min who looks like she’s in some sort of trance.

“Christ, Yi-Min! Are you okay? Did you burn yourself?” she asks, looking down at Yi-Min’s hands as she gathers napkins from the silver dispenser at the side of the table to start mopping up the spilled coffee. Marjorie hurries over too, picking up the cracked mug and setting it on another table, before she too starts mopping up the mess.

Marjorie’s expression is one of concern for Yi-Min, though she shoots Daphne an accusatory glance — surely Daphne must have upset her more mild-mannered friend.

“I don’t see anything. What’s wrong?” Daphne says, reaching across the damp table for Yi-Min’s hand, and following that sidelong gaze to nothing. She reaches over with her free hand to feel the other woman’s forehead with the back of it in that quintessentially maternal way moms have. “Let me see you home, okay?”

The world is surely ending because Daphne gives Marjorie a sincere look of apology as she reaches into her purse for a bill large enough to pay for the coffee and the meals they never even ordered. She sets it on the coffee-damp table as she steps around to Yi-Min’s side of the table, standing where Yi-Min knows her brother lurks.

“See you in two weeks. I know you’ll miss me,” the blond tells Marjorie with a return of her usual smirk, but it fades again as she tries to guide Yi-Min toward the door.

Yi-Min can feel that presence follow, see that shadow creep along just out of her sightline.

"I'm fine. I'm… not fine. I'm very sorry, Marjorie. I just need to…"

Finding herself on her own feet, Yi-Min abruptly performs a gesture that approximates a small, apologetic headshake, distancing herself from the mess she had just created both physically and mentally.

At least she allows herself to be obediently shepherded out of the restaurant. Indeed, she almost seems glad to have an excuse to get out, but the tension in her spine does not drain— whatever is afflicting her is not being left behind in the space they had vacated, and she is all too aware of the fact. She doesn’t even protest the intrusive hand on her forehead. "Daphne, I don't know what is happening to me," she confides straight into the slender hands she has brought up to cup over her lower face, once Marjorie is out of earshot. As a result, her next words and breaths come out muffled, despite their nominal calm. It's as though she is ashamed of what she is about to say next.

Shame isn’t the primal force that is driving her, though. "You are going to think I am going crazy. And, maybe I am. I have been— seeing things."

And is still seeing things, judging by the way her gaze keeps being pulled towards an unseen spot as though by a force of magnetic dread.

Once outside, Daphne steers Yi-Min to a bench nearby, then crouches down in front of her. She peers up and into Yi-Min’s face.

“Seeing things?” she echoes, looking to the side where Yi-Min keeps looking, then back to her friend. “I don’t think you’re going crazy. There’s a thousand reasons you might see something that isn’t there, and only a few of them have to do with being crazy, all right? You’re not a doctor. You don’t know.” Her tone is bright and breezy, but her expression is fraught with worry.

The platinum blond peers in the direction Yi-Shan flickers in and out of view again, but it’s obvious she doesn’t see it — her eyes seem to look right past him, a bit at the wrong angle, or either too high or too low. “What are you seeing? Do you want to talk about it?” she asks, pulling out her phone to call for an Uber.

Again, Yi-Min lets Daphne lead her to the bench and sit her down without any argument. Squeezing her eyes shut, she forces herself to train her gaze directly forward towards the street before opening them again. Her lips part a little, but at first nothing emerges. There is only a passing moment of her dead, soft stare, her frustration aimed inwards.

"You do not have to sit and listen to this nonsense if you do not wish to." At any other time, this might have come from her as a laugh. Shouldering the burdens of another is always, well, a burden, and Yi-Min's insistence upon the point is sharp— even as her voice sounds increasingly strained. "If you really want to hear it, though… this has been happening on and off. Oh, it started out small enough; I was seeing little spots in the side of my vision. That… could have been any number of mundane things, you know? Some vision problem. So I thought. But when I went and saw my doctor, she found nothing wrong.

There is an audible inhalation from Yi-Min, and it isn't shaky so much as just irritated. "Stress. There is hardly anything stressful even happening to me right now," besides this particular agitation about seeing things, obviously, "and even if there were, I have never reacted remotely like this."

“Well, now, you’re just bragging,” is Daphne’s glib reply to Yi-Min’s rebuttal to having any stress in her life. Despite the playful tone, though, her dark eyes are still concerned, and she studies Yi-Min’s like she might be able to see the cause of it in the dark depths.

Of course, she can’t.

She worries her lower lip with her teeth for a moment, before she says, more seriously, “I’ve seen some weird shit, too, actually. Like time standing still for a moment, only I was still moving. No one else was. In the supermarket. Even the clock in the deli section didn’t tick for like… I don’t know. It felt like at least a minute or two. I picked up at least three or four things before things were normal again.”

The confession doesn’t lead to any conspiracy theories, though, that there might be something in the tapwater of Brooklyn or maybe the parks have started using some new pesticide that’s impacting them neurologically. Instead, Daphne shrugs it off.

“Think I just had my mind on a thousand other things. When I got home, I even realized I got the wrong mozzarella — some vegan shit.” Her nose wrinkles and she sighs. “But it did sorta stick in my craw for a few days.”

One hand comes up to brush a lock of hair out of Yi-Min’s face; she blocks the black shadow from the corner of the other woman’s eye in that moment, but the feeling that it — he — is still there doesn’t pass.

“What are you seeing?”

Upon hearing all of that, the next look Yi-Min gives to Daphne is much sharper. "You, too?" she utters with dismay before shaking her head.. "Just by itself, I surely would have agreed with you. It sounds as though you were tired. Maybe had too many sidecars the night before. You know? But… now, I am not so sure. Not with me, and with Nicole, and…"

The thought is waved off with some briskness before it can trail off naturally. Daphne's nearby presence provides an emboldening aura, despite whatever might still be lurking beyond, and Yi-Min draws herself together a little more decisively. With lingering reluctance, she finally brings herself to answer the question of what she had seen:

"My little brother."

Daphne is quite familiar with Yi-Min's twin brother, and also knows that he is not so little, at least physically speaking. "Not as he is now, however. Have you ever seen a Japanese ghost movie? He was… like so. A little boy."

“Nicole, too?” Daphne isn’t close with Nicole Miller, but she certainly knows who she is, but she quiets as Yi-Min tells her of the shadowy entity that’s tagging along like…well, a little brother.

Her hand drops again, and the dark shape returns, just out of view. But now that she’s seen it — him — Yi-Min can picture the boy, her brother. His round face, his glazed eyes. The way they had looked through her, unseeing and lifeless.

“I can’t really see much correlation between my supermarket spree and you seeing a ghost of your very-alive brother, but I don't know. Maybe you didn’t wash your hands well enough after handling the Ganges River Tulips or something and dosed us all with something we shouldn’t have had?” Daphne would never accuse Yi-Min of accidentally drugging them on a normal day, but apparently today is hardly that, and a little levity is called for.

That, and when she doesn’t have the answer, she resorts to sassy comments, no matter what day it is.

Straightening up, Daphne pulls Yi-Min by the hands to get her to rise as well. “You want to go back to your place or mine, and no, I’m not hitting on you in your time of distress, lady.”

"Yours. Mine is a mess." It probably isn't. However, for now, Yi-Min would prefer the comfort of an environment where the shadows in the corners of her mind aren't nearly so familiar.

"I almost wish that was what was happening, Daphne." An exaggerated sigh from Yi-Min transforms into a wryer expression of amusement halfway through, her mouth drawing into a thin line. This time, she gets to her feet of her own accord, keeping one hand gracefully latched onto Daphne's for the semblance of support. "…That I had only mixed up the begonias with the blotter acid and that is why all of this nonsense has been happening. No. There might be no correlation at all past the— sheer strangeness of what has been going on with us, but it worries me all the same."

Just as Yi-Min isn't a stresser, she isn't a worrier, either. 'Fussing like a housewife' (as she would have put it) is a particular predisposition she had always looked down on. But the current sharpness in her eyes, darker than usual with the memory of what she had just seen, serves as a reflection of just how deeply this has rattled her.

Daphne stares at Yi-Min, unsure of how to comfort her. The blond is hardly a conspiracy theorist, and there’s nothing that she can think of that would connect her experience with her friend’s — and whatever strangeness Nicole’s experiencing as well.

“Do you know… I don’t even know what a begonia looks like? I couldn’t tell it from a ranunculus or a peony if you offered me a million bucks,” she says, most likely to switch the subject and get Yi-Min to give a dissertation on flower types.

A car pulls up to the curb, and Daphne glances at it, then her phone. “That’s our ride. I’ll get Sam to watch the bar and we’ll watch some terrible rom-com and make fun of the women and drink wine,” Daphne says brightly.

The apparition fades, somewhere between the cafe and the bar, but the feeling of someone standing near, watching Yi-Min’s every move, never seems to fade.

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