Man in the Window by Meg Bell

Today is the first time I have the house to myself. Ever since the man in the window when I was eight, mom and dad refuse to leave me alone. They think he’ll come back and try to take me. It’s been ten years and I’ve never experienced any suspicious activity at our home. 

Brushing out my shoulder-length, auburn hair I get ready for a party. My best friend Alyssa is throwing a party to kick off summer. I’m grateful because I don’t want to focus on my fear of being at home all by myself. I don’t need anyone to know that I get a lump in my throat lying in bed at night… or that I check my windows locked several times before falling asleep. Her parents are out of town celebrating their anniversary. With how much her parents argue I would never expect them to be married twenty-five years. 

I choose to wear a navy-blue shirt and plaid shorts along with flip flops. 

Not my best look but this will have to do. 

I pack my bag to stay at Alyssa’s and begin my walk to her house. She lives a few blocks away and luckily the roads are well-lit to push down my sudden fear of the dark. I’m normally too stubborn to admit my fear of walking at night… but right now, I’m terrified. 

Leaves crunch behind me causing me to trip and fall forward. Hitting the sidewalk with a hard thud, I turn around frantically to see the perpetrator… Crawling is a mother raccoon and her babies. I giggle at my paranoia and continue my walk. While walking I dust off the gravel from my scuffed hands. 

When I reach the sign, Foxwood Estates, I sigh in content that Alyssa’s house is close. Walking past all the houses, I reach Alyssa’s mansion-like home on the corner. There is a fence that opens with a code, or I can push a button to call the house. I push the button and wait for Alyssa’s giddy voice to answer. 

There is a soft hum and then a staticky, deep voice that says, “You may enter…” I laugh at Alyssa’s attempt at creepy and walk up the driveway once the gate opens. As I approach her house, Alyssa opens her cherry oak door and rushes up to me. 

“We have so much to do! Ugh this is going to be the best party in Hampton High’s history!” She pulls in me for a quick hug, ushering me inside, chatting my ear off the entire time. Eventually she takes a breather and escorts me into the kitchen. 

“Okay so we need to prepare all the food before everyone arrives at nine.” She begins pulling out bags of chips, two liters, and candy. I grab her hand to stop her and state, “You told me to be here at six… Why am I here so early?” 

She gives an annoyed sigh and states, 

“We need to get ready for the party. Have you not been listening to me?” Her eyes narrow at me before she returns to her frenzied state preparing. And shoving me around to find more items to decorate. 

“Go upstairs in the attic. There are some old Halloween decorations there.” I give her a perplexed look and state, 

“It’s June… not October.” 

“Halloween time is any time, now shoo. I need to finish preparing snacks. We have people to impress tonight.” When I begin my walk up the stairs, Alyssa runs over and yells to me. 

“You’re the best, you know that right?” 

I giggle and respond, 

“You owe me big time. But I love you.” 

She smiles, facepalms, mutters to herself as she begins cleaning more. I go up to her attic and shudder as my mind races imagining all the horror movies that start with eerie, old attics. Once inside the attic I sigh at how cozy it looks. There are bookshelves, a bed, and some tables set up. I walk to the corner where there are boxes filled with decorations. I find the Halloween boxes and go to exit, when I notice light peeking out from a door on the opposite end of the room. My curiosity fills me, and I eagerly drop the boxes and walk over to the mysterious door. 

The door creaks and the floorboards hiss as I shuffle inside the room. There is a small lamp which makes the room hardly visible. I shift around, dragging my hand across the wall till I find a switch and turn it on. 

“Ah!!!” I knock myself back into the door that is now locked behind me and stare in horror at the room I’m stuck inside. There are hundreds of images of me from outside my bedroom window. The images started when I was eight. I know I was eight because of the dollhouse in the background I received for Christmas that year. Goosebumps rise on my arms as I continue examining the photos. When I reach the end of the pictures, I see one taken from last night. I was wearing my new mustard colored dress for my date. 

I rub my hands over my arms and blink away my tears trying to calm myself. My foot feels weird and when I look down, I let out another scream. There is blood on my feet and over in the dimly lit corner, is Alyssa’s mother’s corpse. 

The door creaks back open and the voice of a man I trusted whispers, 

“I knew you’d come visit me. I’ll never forget the way we bonded all those years ago.” Alyssa’s dad's bulky hands touch my shoulder and I instinctually throw my hands up to knock him away and run towards a table that distances us from each other. 

“I’m not here for you! Alyssa is having a party! What is wrong with you?” 

He looks completely unaware to his insanity and comes forward on his knees, “I love you. You don’t remember me that night? You looked right at me! You knew all that time it was me… but you were waiting till you were old enough to love me properly. That’s why I took pictures. I wanted us to grow together even if we were apart. Lucille didn’t understand our relationship. I told her to stay away from my studio. She decided to disobey me, and she was rightfully punished. You would never disobey me though, would you? You would never leave me.” He nods convincing himself he’s done everything right. 

I scream as loud as I can for Alyssa. I can hear her indie music blaring from here, shaking the floorboards, and know she’ll never hear me. 

I feel nauseous and my pulse is loud in my ears. Her father’s words disgust me. He’s been watching me all those years. Today was the first time I felt confident… I really believed my stalker was gone and I could be independent. 

He steps towards me cautiously… All my rage from a lost childhood bubbles to the surface and I take the closest object, a pencil, and stab it in the side of his eye. His scream torments my ears, but I kick him to the side and disappear out of the room and downstairs. 

There are some friends of Alyssa’s from school early helping her get ready and instead of explaining what happened or asking them to call 9-11, I grab my belongings, calling 9-11 on my way out the door. 

Standing on her lawn, talking to the 9-11 operator, I glance up towards the house, and in the window stands her father mouthing, 

“I’ll always find you.” 

There is the sound of sirens approaching but when I look back, he is gone… and I know they won’t find him. They’ll never find him, and I’ll never be free from the man in the window. 

Published in Issue #18

No comments:

Post a Comment