They had been there at his arrival. The portraits of the past hung from every wall of his chamber. Cornelius sat up straight, just like he did every night. His hands shifted up underneath the heavy layers of bed sheets and covers to hold the edges of them tight to his pounding chest.
‘Who are you?’ Cornelius called out with a tremor. ‘Who are you?’
No one answered.
Afraid of the monster under the bed, Cornelius stayed where he was, the white bed sheets pulled up to his white night gown, pulled up to the white of his face. His enlargened pupils took in as much as there was to see in the dark.
‘Who’s there?’ Cornelius asked again in a smaller voice. ‘Show me who you are!’ He then added, ‘Please.’
The empty darkness stared back at him in silence.
The billowed sleeves of his gown brushed his face like snowflakes under a heavy sky. The sleeves caught the falling spots of salty water.
‘Please tell me who you are,’ Cornelius said to no avail. Summoning all of his strength, Cornelius put down his bed sheet and from behind his stiffening mask he declared boldly, ‘I do know who you are!’
This is the start of a short story. It could be a ghost story, it could be a fairy tale, it could be a story of family love. It depends how the reader perceives it. I’m being deliberately ambiguous!