‘The Daemon Lover’ by Shirley Jackson

A story for October
 
For All Hallow’s Eve and the shift to the darker side of the year, I choose Shirley Jackson. Her work is always unsettling, with the edges of this world blurred with the supernatural. In ‘The Daemon Lover,’ a woman searches the city for her fiancé, and can’t find him anywhere. It’s the day of their wedding, and as she grows more frantic and isolated, the story turns nightmarish: she travels to his apartment and finds his name on none of the mailboxes, the ones that may know him don’t remember him leaving, various shop owners’ faces rise up, their voices circling her. I’ve subsequently read that this story has in it Jackson’s comment about society’s expectation on women to marry but what I love in it is the invisible figure haunting every page, barely glimpsed, then eventually lost. 

Collected in The Lottery and Other Stories, Farrar, Straus and Company, 1949, republished by Penguin Classics in 2009. The story can be read here

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