She sat in the dark room upstairs overlooking the city. Every morning he walked to work and saw her sad eyes looking out the window into the distance, as if waiting for someone. He looked at the empty driveway, shrugged and figured she must live alone. He continued about his day at his full-time job at a local grocery store, fulfilling his daily duties, but couldn’t get the sad girl’s eyes out of his mind. They were piercing even from her 2nd story window and the more he concentrated on the memory of them, the more he felt the message her eyes told him. He shook his head to release himself from his daze, and hurrying back to his work as if the faster he completed his tasks would make the time speed up faster until he can walk past her house again.
The time finally came for him to clock out as he rushed out of the doors with more urgency than he’s ever felt compelled to do for anything in his life. There was a hunger burning inside him to know what happened. What was this girl’s story? Why was she all alone? What is she waiting for? Who’s there to protect her? Why is he so concerned about this girl I don’t even know? What is drawing him to her?? He asked himself these questions in rhetoric, and open to what answers may come up for him.
Out of breath and the hot air escaped his breath into the crisp cold air as he reached the front of her house. He adjusted the beanie over his head to get a closer look. The house didn’t look out of shape, but you can definitely tell there had been years of the bare minimum maintenance. The type of maintenance where you stay home for a week from work only to sleep in bed with your dry thoughts of suicide and depression that wrangle you down like cement, yet you get up, feed your flesh the nutrients it needs to stay alive so that you can go back drowning in your thoughts to keep feeding an endless cycle of sadness. That was the image he saw upon looking at her tired, old, and jaded house. He looked up at the empty window he once saw her sitting at, wondering if she was home. He felt the pull to walk up to the door and peek into the window to see if she was okay. Maybe she had left. He just wanted to know if this girl—this stranger—needed anything. An ear to talk to, a hug, a friend. And what baffled him was where this overwhelming need to protect her was coming from.
Knock knock knock knock
The door sounded hollow. Like the wood was so old, dry and brittle that if he pressed his finger into the surface with enough pressure, it would leave a dent. He gave the door a little push and creaaaak…
The winter wind intervened, and the door flew open. He stood there startled, unsure what he should do next. What if she doesn’t want any help, maybe he should turn around, close the door and leave. He couldn’t decide what to do.. until he heard her quiet sobs upstairs.
“Hello??” he called out. Her sobbing stopped. He called out again, “Hello, are you okay? I don’t mean to startle you.. I’m just.. here to help.” he stuttered. “Something inside me told me to see if you were alright.”
He reached the top of the stairs, trying to figure out what door she was in. He could feel her sadness in the air and it consumed everything. From the paintings on the wall, the small vanity desk sitting next to the stairs, it all reeked of sorrow. It smelt like stale pine that had been left to dry out. He called out again, “Hello… can you just answer me? I’ll leave if you just say the word.”
Then, her sobbing broke out again. Last door on the right. He rushed down the end of the dark hallway, reaching the doorknob to a candle lit room and a small dark haired girl sitting curled up with her arms around her knees in the corner of the room. She looked like she was barricaded in, by the way her feet trembled in fear as if it were to go over some invisible border her entire life would be in danger.
The bangs over her eyes shot up giving him a quick glimpse of the dark wet beads that made up her pupils still seemed to illuminate the dimmed room.
“YOU CAN’T” she cried out.
“What do you mean? Please. Let me help you!” he took a step and she let out a shrill scream.
“I SAID NO!!” with every attempted step he took her panic rose, as did his heart in feeling even more compelled to come closer to save her from whatever darkness she was feeling that was causing her this apparent pain.
His hands finally reached hers, careful to ease himself into her guarded space and she shuttered as he breached the barrier she had put up from herself and the world. He pulled her up to her feet and her body followed as broken sobs exploded into his shoulder, telling only stories she could hear, and all he could do is listen and try to understand without words. As his heart warmed for her, he gave a small squeeze of a hug. In that instant, eyes wide open, she gasped as a sudden gust of wind blew the candle out and darkness swept around them to engulf the room clean.
To be continued..