Short Story #240: The Daemon Lover by Shirley Jackson

Title:  The Daemon Lover

Author:  Shirley Jackson


Shirley Jackson: Image source: woman awakes after an unrestful night and starts her day.  She does domestic things while she contemplates how she is going to let her sister know that she is eloping with Jamie.  As she contemplates this, she continues to pack and get ready, awaiting for Jamie's return.  She finds herself antsy and continues to change different details within her apartment and her appearance.  Jamie is an hour late in arriving and so she decides to go down to the drugstore for some food, leaving a note on the door.  She rushes back but he is still nowhere to be found.  She takes a taxi to Jamie's neighborhood and looks for the building where Jamie lives.  His name is not found on the tenant listing and the superintendent asks if she needs help.  He explains that the person might have been house-sitting in one of the apartments and sends her to it.  When she knocks on that door, the couple explain they had lent the apartment to him but the husband wasn't entirely fond of such men that the wife met at "those meetings."  They explain that Jamie was there but left this morning with not additional information.  When she leaves, she visits the man at the newsstand across the street to see if they know anything.  After hemming and hawing, he saws that he might have seen a man of that description in the area around ten.  She follows in the direction that he indicates.  She slowly makes her way in his direction, discovering where he went and was going.  She continues in the direction of her home and comes back to the apartment but Jamie is still nowhere.  She goes back and asks additional people that might have spotted him.  Finally, one man points out a house that he believes he saw Jamie go into with a woman.  She finds out where in the building he went and followed, knocking on the door.  She was pretty sure she could hear voices.  But no one opened the door.  She continues to visit the door and knock over the ensuing week, but no one comes. 


I love the way Jackson wrings out all hope of a situation.  There seems to be such happiness and hope at the story's start, but that has all dried up by story's end.  The nameless woman has been spurned by the "daemon lover,' who snickers at her from behind a closed door that she can never enter.  I'm less impressed with a certain amount of prudishness (premarital sex resulting in not marriage), but to see her hope higher and higher with each sign of his disappearance is well executed.

Short Story #240 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  7/23/2014
Source:  The short story can be found at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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