December was her favorite time of the year. The short-lived winters in the tropical wet-and-dry city of joy made her look forward to being productive and feel most alive. This year it was going to be very different as she was finally moving out of her parent’s house to her own quaint little flat. It was close by and the deal was to visit them on the weekends. This sense of independence was new and each day she came up with ideas of decorating her place – she had thought of it all, from fancy curtains to side lamps, giving her home a cozy feeling. Her parents and friends helped her out to shift the hefty furniture and check on the fixtures finally before it was time for her to move in.
Next day morning she bid her parents goodbye and took a cab to her pro tem address. She was almost there – up two flights of stairs carrying the heavy suitcase and two tote bags on her shoulders. She gasped for breath looking for her bottle of water as right then a man in his late 30’s wearing Jamaican shorts and a plain purple tee came to her rescue offering to lend a hand. He had a well-maintained beard, curly hair, hazel eyes, and a perfect smile. She awkwardly smiled back trying to fix her hair and wiping off the sweat from all the lifting despite it being cold outside. Even though he looked lean, he herculiusly took up her suitcase and placed it right outside her door. ‘I saw you and your family come and go earlier this week. I was meaning to stop by and introduce myself, but here we are – neighbors.’ He gestured into a hi5 and she involuntarily hit him up. They smiled and she offered him to come in for a glass of water. They talked for a while and instantly connected. She was secretly dancing with joy to have found him. He got a call and hurriedly left saying they would meet soon and to not hesitate to holler if she needed anything.
She closed the door and finally took a glance at her home. She sealed the deal only because it had a tiny balcony attached to the living room with a view of the city’s suburbs. She was promised of great sunset views by the owner of the house. She was exhausted and laid down on the mattress instantly falling asleep. A loud thud woke her up. She checked the time; it was almost 10 PM. She slept like a log. She checked her phone to find 10 missed calls from her parents and cousins. She called them back and told them about her day and of the nice neighbor she met. Just as she kept the call, she heard the sound that woke her up again. She listened closely and this time it felt like it was coming from the kitchen. She mustered her courage and went in to see what it was. The sound felt close yet not from inside the kitchen, she realized it was coming from the house next door. The buildings were constructed with a common wall that separated two apartments. But the walls were so hollow and thin, in a cold wintery night, the sound echoed as if it were from inside the house. She decided to not bother too much and cook something up as she was starving.
The next day she decided to ask the guy next door about the sound and if everything was alright. To her surprise she saw a big old lock to the door. The lock looked rusty, and the corners of the door had cobwebs. It felt like nobody had opened the door in the longest time. She couldn’t remember if she noticed this yesterday. She sensed something was not right and called up the owner to come immediately as it was important. She went back inside her house and locked it up. She ran inside the kitchen and put her ear close to the wall hoping to hear something just to not feel like she had gone completely crazy. But she couldn’t hear a sound. The owner arrived within 15 mins, worried at the tone of the call and she went out showing the lock on the door. She asked him about the man living here and if he knew anything about his whereabouts. She told him everything that happened the previous day including the sound from the kitchen.
The owner looked surprised and told her that a boy matching her description used to live there until a few months ago but unfortunately while travelling to his hometown, died in a train accident. She felt a shiver run down her spine and fell unconscious on the floor. She woke up finding herself in her parents’ house. Her mom rushed up to her asking her if she felt okay. Her head hurt but she couldn’t grasp her consciousness. She asked her mom what had happened. ‘Your owner called us as soon as you fell, he was so panicked. To our luck, your breath was shallow when we reached, but we didn’t have to take you to a hospital. So, we brought you back to our place. Don’t worry,tomorrow you can go back to your place.’ She screamed and fell unconscious again.