Here is this week’s #FridayFlash, a little something I wrote three years ago that needed refreshing. Enjoy, good people.
Today’s your lucky day: you get to choose between your mother and your father. Either you live with the first, who never lets you go out with smelly socks and a stubbled chin; or the other, who doesn’t care enough to look at your report card and cheated on your mother for the past five years. They’re getting a divorce, messing up your life for these last few months until graduation, so who do you choose? Him, of course.
You move into his crappy apartment: third floor, constant baby screams on the other side of the wall, some wife beater across your landing, and this noise above your room at night. No wonder your father lets you have it, it’s impossible to sleep with all the shuffling and dragging and voices coming from the ceiling. Then again, no one will say anything if you bring girls to spend the night and smoke with your window open, so you’re golden.
Until dark circles ring your eyes. Your mother thinks that jackass excuse for a father isn’t feeding you well, that he’s neglecting you and nothing good will come out of living with him. As she wipes spaghetti sauce off your cheek—the sole reason you’re visiting on a Saturday night—she invites you to come back. Begs, really. No hard feelings, she wants you to live with her. You’re doing well, you lie, and get out before she says you’re worse than him.
One night, you actually believe it’ll be fine, you’ll catch up on lost sleep—the shits living above aren’t home. You relax, your thoughts drift into dreams, toasty in bed… WHAM! It shakes your walls, muted voices rank up into shouts. BANG! A heavy drag, left and right, right and left. Heavy feet, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! right above your head, sheet-rock and wood beams separating you from chaos.
Enough, you think, where’s my baseball bat? You knock the butt to the ceiling, afraid to man up, at first. They don’t stop, their voices like whispers slitting the walls and tickling your ears. So you bang on the ceiling some more, half-hallucinating their raspy breaths down your neck. But it picks up, driving you mad, the shouting so close, their voices in your face. Through a haze of murderous intent, your deep breath comes out in a yawn. The couch will do.
On a rare morning appearance, your father asks you why you’re sleeping in here instead of your bed. He asks the heavens why he bothered leaving you the bigger room if you prefer this stinky rathole too small for his plasma screen. You say it’s because of the people in 4D, they just won’t stop moving around at night. He apologizes, the place is noisy. You say, damn right. After a week of whines, he talks to the landlord. Now he calls you crazy as you follow him down the dingy corridor.
Empty, the place hasn’t been lived in for over five years. Everybody moves out after a month, the landlord says with a funny look. He’s not the only one checking you up and down. The back of your neck prickles, your heart thump-thumps, a cold embrace clutches your chest. You hold onto the doorframe, something pricks your fingers. Stuck under the doorknob latch, the picture of this man waits for you to squeeze it free. Yes, the picture waits for you, it’s written all over your bones. And tonight, the noise comes from inside your apartment.