By Allison R.
I had expected that the knock at the door would come eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen at midnight.
I was in my bed, the sheets wrapped around my legs, tossing and turning on the mattress. The light was on in the bathroom, with cosmetic products littered across the counter. The mirror was smeared with black mascara and lipstick stains, covered in water droplets from the shower.
The clock ticked from the other side of the room, reminding me that I still had six hours until I had to wake up. I covered my head with my pillow and sighed loudly, punching the side of the bed. I swung my legs over the side of the bed frame and snatched the clock off of the wall. I pitched it across the room, watching as the glass shattered onto the ground. Satisfied with what I had done, I shuffled back into bed and pulled the sheets over my body.
I closed my eyes and was annoyed at how silent my apartment studio was. The clock was no longer ticking, the neighbors were no longer slamming their cabinets, and the soft hum of the dishwasher had stopped.
I was aware that I could hear my heart beating loudly in my chest, that I could hear myself breathing and living. I sat up in bed and threw the sheets off of my torso.
I could hear footsteps out in the hallway. Whoever was out there was not shuffling in their slippers on the rough carpet, nor were they trying to be quiet so they wouldn’t wake the other residents in the apartment building. These were heavy footsteps, the steps of bulky boots on inexperienced feet walking on the thin, carpeted floors of the apartment.
My heart began to throw itself against my rib cage. My breathing became ragged and shallow, and my eyes narrowed on the door in front of me. Sweat covered my body, my flannel pajama pants sticking to my thighs. My hair was matted to my face, stray strands of hair flying in my face. The footsteps sounded as if they had come close to her apartment door as if they were just down the hall.
I looked out of the window, staring at the ghostly moon high in the sky, high above the city where I lived. The faint traces of stars shone brightly in the midnight sky above the highways filled with cars, buses, and people.
I looked back to the door, where the footsteps stopped at the front of the wooden door. I saw the dirty boots from the crack of light under the door. My heart thumped faster in my chest, and sweat dripped down my forehead and fell on my face.
I had been expecting the person to knock, but it seemed as if hours had passed, with me in my bed with the sheets on the floor, and the stranger outside my door. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, raising my hair on the back of my neck. I shivered, holding my arms close to my body, in hopes that they would warm my flesh.
The knocking came quietly at first, a soft tapping on the frame of the door. I didn’t get up to answer it; instead, I pulled the blankets over my head and closed my eyes, pretending to have fallen asleep before midnight had struck on the shattered clock.
The knocking came violently on the door, rapping and shaking the door. The handle trembled and rattled in its place, threatening to fall to the ground. My heart was beating faster in my chest, throwing itself against my ribcage and bouncing back into its place. I squeezed my eyes shut and clenched the blankets with a pale white fist.
The door burst open, buckling under the weight of the stranger. I could hear his breath and his heavy boots hitting the creaky, wooden floorboards.
I threw the blankets off my head and sat up in bed, and at that moment, I saw who it was; I saw who the stranger who had been knocking at my door was, and I slowly backed away.