“Don’t Look Now” by Daphne du Maurier

Read for: week 15 of Deal Me In 2015 – a short story reading challenge

Card drawn: Jack of Hearts

My source for the story: “The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Tales”

See my roster of Deal Me In stories here.

My other experience with Daphne du Maurier: I’ve read “Rebecca” of course (haven’t we all? 🙂 ) and a lesser novel “The Flight of the Falcon” and have watched the movie adaptation of her short story, “The Birds.” She was a very prolific writer and I have admittedly only scratched the surface of her work.

Don’t Look Now”

Have you ever noticed someone apparently staring at you? I mean someone you don’t even know? What is your reaction? Do you assume they are taken with your good looks or perhaps your sartorial splendor? Do you assume it’s an indicator of a romantic interest? Do you (guys) check and make sure you’re zipped up? Do you think they are being rude and consider starting a fight with them? Do you look behind you to see what they’re really staring at? Probably most of us have used one or more of these approaches at some point in our lives. This situation is what begins the story that I read for this week’s Deal Me In.

John and Laura are a young couple vacationing in Italy, and they encounter a “starer” – as John tips off his wife at the start of this tale by saying “Don’t look now, but there are a couple of old girls two tables away who are trying to hypnotise me.” Actually, the old girls are twins, one of whom is blind and doing the “staring.” It turns out she has “psychic powers” and can see the couple’s recently deceased daughter sitting with them. That’s enough for a great story right there, isn’t it?

Under the surface of the weirdness of the tale, however, is the ongoing stress of the couple trying to come to grips with their loss. John is constantly concerned about Laura and whether or not she is “getting over it” – at least to the degree possible after such a tragic loss. How they cope with this stress and John’s increasing anxiety over what impact this new element (meeting the twin sisters) will have on Laura’s recovery drive the rest of this weird and thrilling tale.

Sadly, an admittedly brief search I performed failed to find this story available anywhere on-line. I own it as part of the anthology, “The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories,” from which I have drawn frequently for the past few years of the Deal Me In challenge. I highly recommend it.

What is your reading experience with Daphne du Maurier?  Were you aware (as I wasn’t until relatively recently) that she wrote the short story that the Hitchcock film, The Birds, was based upon?

Picture of Du Maurier and family from The Independent