Trying to time my visits to the mailbox downstairs just as she got home from work was considered creepy by my best friend. He couldn’t get over why I had such a tough time just going up to talk to her to ask her about her day or whatever.
But we did have the time to make small talk here and there. The last time, I complimented her bookbag. She chuckled a little and asked if I wanted one, that she actually bought it from her friend’s small shop in the downtown area. I nervously asked her if we could go on Friday because it was my day off, but I felt the wind knocked out of me when she said that she couldn’t and started to walk away.
I held my breath as she stopped, turned toward me, and asked if Saturday morning would work for me.
I said yes far too quickly as my eyes started shining. She asked what my unit number was and I swear a nearly forgot, distracted by her big green earrings poking out through her curly dark hair. 138? I said.
Are you asking me? She asked, laughing.
Well I live in 238, right above yours. Cool. I’ll knock on your door in the morning. I’ll see you around she said as she walked over to the staircase. Not the elevator.
I pretended to go through some junk mail right there by the front entrance of the building, daydreaming about what I could possibly talk to her about when Saturday came around. I was feeling so happy that it is still difficult for me to think about that scene. Yet I play it over and over in my head.
I was up at six in the morning that Saturday, unsure of the time when Maddie would be knocking on my door. But at exactly 9:01am, I heard the gentle knocking on my door with the light sound of her bracelet jiggling.
I tried to hide the smile I had and tried not to act too eager. I assumed we would be walking to the downtown area, which was only about a twenty minute walk, but instead she said that she had been feeling strange and tired lately, so we walked over to her car, a black Corolla, and drove down the street.
The day was great, I wasted $40 on a bookbag I didn’t need, and we even got lunch at a sandwich shop. I liked the way she laughed and the way she listened. I miss her.
We exchanged phone numbers and hung out late into the night, making dinner, watching movies. Everything that I felt I should have lived through as a teenager but was living now, a single guy in his late twenties, joking like little kids and worrying about silly things with her.
When she told me she was relocating for her job, I was devastated. The way she told me was so normal to her, I’m not sure if that hurt more. But she asked if I could help her move her things, and I agreed. What are you doing Saturday morning? She asked.
I went to my friends’ house that Friday, to talk about life and Maddie, who my best friend Ben kept calling the lady in the most ridiculous tone you have ever heard. It was something like the ladaay.
I got home late, but couldn’t fall asleep. I kept thinking about Maddie’s call to let me know that she was ready for me to help her move her boxes down the moving truck. But that call would never come.
I thought about texting her around noon that Saturday, running a whole movie in my head where she felt bad about leaving me behind so instead she decided to quit her job and move in with me. The truth was much worse.
I finally sent her a text around 8pm. Could she have meant the following Saturday? No reply.
I went up to her apartment at around 10pm, but found the lights off as far as I could tell from the gap under her door. I called her from outside her door, but it went to voicemail.
I went back to my apartment, thinking about Maddie and how I should probably confess how badly I liked her and wished for her to stay. I went to bed lost in thought. They say that we should leave with no regrets in life, right? But just as I was falling asleep, around one in the morning by this time, I heard the long sound of furniture being dragged across the floor above me. Then boxes being dropped. Pans crashing to the floor.
I put on my clothes as fast as I could and took a look at my hair in the mirror before going upstairs. The lights were still off. And then I leaned into the door to listen for any signs of Maddie being awake, but it was dead silent. I was about to call her name, but remembered how late it was so it would be better if I just called her phone instead. Except I had forgotten my cell phone in my room. I figured it would be best to knock as I instinctively grabbed the doorknob with one hand in order to knock with the other, when I noticed that the door wasn’t completely shut and easily swung open.
Maddie? I asked. No response.
I reached for the light switch, my eyes fixed on the window without the curtain right on the living room. I thought I saw Maddie standing by it.
Maddie? I asked again, as the light turned on.
Maddie was gone. The place looked trashed. Had someone broken in? The couches were flipped over, the cabinets all wide open, and the lamps were on the floor.
I walked around the apartment to search for Maddie. The bathroom, her bedroom, the closets, but Maddie was gone. I was worried about what I had just seen, but instead of calling the police, I ran back to downstairs to get my phone and I called my friend who was probably half asleep as he yelled at me to hang up and call the police. Right? What was I thinking!
I called 911 without any idea of what I was going to say, but finally said that I was worried about my friend. That her apartment had been trashed and that she was nowhere to be found. I gave the address, my name, and phone number and was told that an officer would be over in about ten minutes.
The next two hours were a blur. The police arrived and confirmed her name, found her photo, radioed back to each other. Confirmed her death with me. Asked if I knew any of her relatives.
Maddie had crashed on the highway. She died on impact the night before.
A few people, some of her family I assumed, came by the following week to take the things out of her apartment. I saw them pack everything in the moving van and drove away. I was the one who was supposed to help her move.
But at night, I still hear the furniture above me. Though the place has been empty for over two months, and completely empty. The sound of pans, boxes, and heavy furniture moving across the floor still wake me up.
I was supposed to help her move.
Stories of things that move that shouldn’t move, are creepy, but things that move that aren’t there? That’s a whole other level of creepy. Another story is coming right after this.
The creepiest thing that has ever happened to me was back in high school. It happened back in the day when everybody used flip phones and we texted the old-fashioned way, with the number pad.
I used to talk to my girlfriend on the phone late into the night until we ran out of things to talk about and yet always found a way to keep talking, though sometimes one of us would end up falling asleep on the phone. I could tell when she was sleepy and always tried to find a way to wrap up the conversation, but she refused to admit that she was tired.
Anyway, this one time she fell asleep. I was about to hang up when I heard the distinct sound of a radio hissing, almost whistling. It was like a song. That’s when I heard the voice of a man say “well there, you are not going to hang up, are you?”. I was so scared to say anything else because the voice was so far away and full of static that I knew that someone had been listening to our conversation.
“Hello?” I muttered. “Hello” it replied back.
“Who is this?” I asked. “Don’t you know?” it said back.
I listened as the whistling sound faded and all I could hear was the sound of Sylvia’s breath over the phone.
I hung up and called her back to wake her up.
Sylvia, I just heard something. What? She asked, sounding more confused than me. I explained to her what I heard and she asked if I was sure of what I had heard. Then she stopped talking.
Did you fall asleep again? I asked. No, she replied. Then what’s wrong?
That’s what you say when you pretend to fall asleep on the phone, she said in a whisper.
What? Pretend to fall asleep on the phone? I asked her what she meant and thinking about it still sends chills down my back. She did the voice, the voice saying the phrase I’ve never said. The phrase she insists I say to her over the phone.
“Well there, you are not going to hang up, are you?” through the static, as the whistling fades away.