I haven’t been outside in 2 years. – By eclipsed_earth
In the last 3 years I’ve left my house twice. Once because my mom got really sick and we didn’t think she’d survive (she did), and once because I thought I was having a heart attack (it was a panic attack). That was all in the first year of my self appointed house arrest. Other than absolute emergencies I leave my house for NOTHING.
It started when I was a kid. I was terrified of bugs so I stayed inside more often than the other kids. When I was a teenager I always felt exposed in open spaces.
For the next few years it spiraled, with me leaving the house less and less for reasons of generalized anxiety. When I was 25 I was smoking a cigarette on a street corner waiting for a bus when I noticed the bus… speeding towards me. I moved in barely enough time. The driver had some kind of episode and passed out. Everyone was okay, but I would have died on the spot.
After that day I stayed in the house. I could work from home with my job as a drafter (though I had to drop 5000 on Autocad and another 2000 on a computer that could run it). I ordered most of my groceries, if friends wanted to see me they came to my house, anything I couldn’t order I’d have Aileen, my assistant, go out and buy.
I was actually really happy with my life. Everyone understood my struggle, Aileen was excellent company, I had coffee on my screened in back porch every morning, dinner with family or friends at least twice a week. I had a therapist that came to visit me once a week. I was really good.
Then something strange started to happen. Every night after Aileen left I’d hear a knock on my door. Now, one of my things was never answering the door. All of my people knew about it. It gave me anxiety if someone knocked/rang the doorbell (stranger danger) so everyone I knew either had a key, or knew where Aileen put the spare.
The first night I ignored it. The second night I crept towards the door, intending to look through the peephole, but I felt an impending sense of doom, so instead I crept back to my couch and listened. The next few nights I sat on my couch and waited. Listening for the knock. Waiting after Aileen closed the door and drove away. I realized on the 5th night there were never any footsteps.
I told Aileen about it, and asked her if she could stay with me one night to see if she could hear it too, or if it would even knock if she was there. I hadn’t really paid attention to a time pattern, so there was no it happened every night at 3am it was just “Oh there’s a knock at my door”.
Much to my surprise that night, with Aileen by my side, there was a knock. It came around 8:30 PM. Aileen decided to look through the peephole. When she did she shrugged her shoulders.
“There’s nothing there, bug. Maybe a kid is just fucking with you?” She suggested with a scrunched up nose and tilt of her head.
“Yeah. Maybe.” I replied.
She came and sat next to me again, patting my head. Just as she did there it was again. The knock.
This time she ran to the door and opened it, prepared to run outside and chase the offender.
She didn’t have to chase anyone though. Sitting on my porch steps was a woman. She was young, with long brown hair, green eyes, and wearing a floor length baby blue skirt and white tube top. She was overweight, and she had a scar over half of her face.
She was lovely. Her eyes were captivating. Her lips perfectly shaped. I felt myself drawn to her, even as my anxiety over the door being open grew nearly unbearable.
She looked at me, calmly, and smiled.
“If it’s alright with you, I’d like to sit here awhile. I find it peaceful here.” She said.
Aileen started to speak, a shocked gasp escaping her throat, but I stopped her.
“Please, feel free. Aileen, shut the door.” I made a closing motion with my arm. Aileen complied, a look of shock on her face. As the door closed the woman smiled at me waving her delicate hand.
“Do you want me to call the police, bug? She’s trespassing!” Aileen asked.
“No, it’s okay. She’s just resting. I’m just glad I know who’s there now.” I told her.
“Do you still want me to stay?” She asked.
“Yes please, and can you make a pot of coffee?” I replied.
Over the next several weeks it was the same, the delicate knock at my door, the sense of foreboding. It became routine for me to stay awake with a pot of coffee, just waiting to hear her say something. But she never did.
As soon as she had come one day she was just gone. No more knocks. No more chilling feelings of imminent doom. No more late nights with a pot of coffee.
I was sad. I tried to talk about it, but Aileen (who was never the biggest fan) claimed to have no recollection of her. No one else knew about the mystery woman. It was as if she had never existed at all.
One day I hosted a dinner at my house, and told Aileen she could bring a friend if she’d like. She was giddy.
“Oh I can’t wait! I’ve been seeing someone. You’re going to love her, bug!” She clapped her hands together in excitement.
Something felt wrong.
I should have known. You do, don’t you?
At around 8:30 P.M. there was a knock at my door. I heard Aileen reprimanding the knocker before opening the door. It was the woman, except she had no scars. I felt my heart pounding in my chest. Aileen introduced us, and when she hugged me, I felt something in my soul set on fire.
I grabbed Aileen and pulled her to the next room.
“That’s HER! Aileen. Why did you tell me you didn’t remember her? Were you worried I’d be angry?” I know I looked wild, shifty. Something was very wrong.
“What are you talking about, bug? I met her at a meeting a few weeks ago. She’s a recovering alcoholic who just moved here from Tallahassee.” She said.
I caught no sense of irony in her voice and I realized she actually didn’t remember.
Dinner went well despite my anxiety, and I began to relax. The woman, who’s name is Meredith I learned, and I got along well. She was captivating. Most of the evening I spent enraptured in brilliant conversation with her, she a civil engineer, me a CAD technician. Talking about the ins and outs of designing roads/pipelines.
Aileen began to seem upset as the night wore on, though I didn’t pay much attention. She just did that sometimes.
I didn’t pay attention.
I thought everything was okay.
“Oh my god, have you ever input a point wrong and ended up with a line 200 miles in the wrong direction? It’s-“
Before I knew what was happening Aileen was up and holding a knife to Meredith’s throat.
“TWO YEARS!” She roared. “FOR TWO YEARS I HAVE BEGGED FOR YOUR ATTENTION! I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING YOU ASKED OF ME! AND YOU NEVER FUCKING CARED!”
Meredith, despite having a knife to her throat, smiled calmly at me.
“Hey, Lena, calm down. It’s okay.” Meredith cooed. Aileen rubbed her tear stained cheek against her shoulder.
“ITS NOT OKAY! She has IGNORED ME! I’ve been her bitch for TWO YEARS! And now, I bring you here to make her jealous, and she spends more time talking to YOU! Than ME!” She screamed.
“Aileen… no.” Was all I could manage before she dragged the knife across Meredith’s face.
Meredith screamed in pain and Aileen’s wild eyes became more wild.
“YOU DON’T APPRECIATE ME!” Her voice broke and spit flew from the corner of her mouth. She jabbed the knife in my direction and put Meredith in a chokehold.
“Aileen… I love you.” I said.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her bloody hand.
“Really?” She whimpered.
“Yes darling, just give me the knife, okay?” I held out my hand, trying to smile reassuringly.
“NO!” She roared again. “You’re just trying to save her!” She began pulling her towards the door.
“Well, you won’t! NOT ANYMORE! YOU DON’T GET TO!” She opened the door and pulled Meredith down the front steps.
“YOU CAN’T HELP HER NOW!” Aileen had the knife poised to cut her throat, and I had to make a decision.
Standing 10 feet from my wide open front door, mouth agape, fear crushing me, I had to decide.
Do I save her? I would risk being murdered by a woman I thought I knew. My last venture outside met with the end I’ve always dreaded that remanded me in my home in the first place.
Or do I simply shut the door? I’d live with the guilt for the rest of my life. Soul crushing grief that a life was cut short because I was careless and a coward.
In what I can only describe as a moment of overwhelming adrenaline fueled courage, I ran at Aileen. She was so shocked when I hit her and Meredith we toppled over onto the ground and she dropped the knife. I grabbed her hands and held them above her head, my knee digging into her chest, and screamed for Meredith to call 911.
Hours later, with the police beginning to thin out and the paramedics having bandaged Meredith up but telling her to go to a hospital for stitches, we sat embracing on my front steps.
“Ready to go?” I asked her.
“If it’s alright with you I’d like to sit here awhile.” She sighed, head on my chest. “I find it peaceful here.”