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Drama Mystery Suspense

Frightened.

That’s the only thing Amelia could feel as her tired eyes looked outside her wet, rain-tapped window to the old apartment building across the street and saw once again that familiar yellow light from the sixth-floor switch on. Soon enough, a dark, enigmatic shadow arose against it. A shadow that the past week had Amelia feeling paralyzed with fear. Every night, as the pale crescent moon rose above the sky and the world fell quiet, it would switch the light on and just sit there looking at her, not moving, not doing anything else, just silently watching. Amelia hissed, her hands visible trembling as she chewed on her lips, not wanting to believe this was happening again.

The first time she noticed it, she didn’t think much of it. Her body ached and her mind felt like it was in the middle of a never-ending fog, as she came back from her work shift in a small but fancy restaurant downtown. She was ready to finally let her body rest when she acknowledged a dark figure in the apartment across the street standing there, motionless. It seemed to be looking at the worn-out window of her petite apartment, but she blamed it on her exhausted mind and imagination, as she figured that it was doing something else, something her brain would not let her think of in her weary state. So she allowed herself to go to sleep, but she would have been lying if she said she didn’t lay awake until she noticed, with the corner of her eye, the disturbing shadow disappearing and the irritating golden light finally becoming one with the darkness.

But the nights after that were the same, exactly the same. And Amelia couldn’t stop thinking about it - not even for a moment. The dark circles underneath her eyes grew bigger and bigger every day as the thoughts circling her mind wouldn’t stop running. Who is it? What does it want? What should I do?

As she was pacing nervously around the room Amelia stole one more look at it, trying to spot at least one unique feature that could help her understand more about this strange figure. She leaned on her gray old window, eyebrows furrowed as her big brown eyes tried to focus, but the apartment she wished never existed was too far away for her to point out anything. Amelia even wondered if the shadow could see her from that distance. Her cramped window would only let a small part of the inside of her apartment be visible from the outside world, something that comforted her at least a little bit.

But as she looked at it a little longer, she noticed that the figure’s form was wide. It wasn’t slim or soft, but it seemed rather broad, with hard edges in the place where its shoulders had to be. No curve could be visible in what was supposed to be the figure’s waist, its hands blend with the rest of its body, creating a black shield against the light. It must be a man, she thought as she took a deep breath, trying to calm her heart that was running milestones inside her chest.

The dark silhouette moved. At first, it seemed like it put its face in its hands frustrated, something that brought a puzzled expression across Amelia’s face. When it moved again, it appeared to be trying to reach something, its hand disappearing quickly into the darkness and suddenly, with a swift move, the person placed his hand next to his face, gradually forming a cloud of smoke next to him. The person started to smoke, Amelia realized. It was the first time the figure moved, and that slight change made her tapping her foot on the floor as if her life depended on it, her mind trying to understand what was happening, but with no luck at all.

I need to relax, it’s nothing, everything will be ok, as she repeated these thoughts on her mind over and over again, she came to the conclusion that the best thing she could do right now was to let her soft mattress hug her body, taking all her stress to itself and serving her all the rest she so badly needed.

But she couldn’t rest, no. Ugly memories were running through her head, and despite how hard she tried to stop them, she couldn’t. Her eyes started to water and she found her breath barely coming out as realization hit her. She was alone. She wanted to call someone, to share her thoughts, to tell them what is happening, but she didn’t have anyone.

She had moved to a different town a little bit over a month ago, her studies required her to. Although the city itself was really nice, full of wonderful trees that made the whole town smell like it had fallen straight from heaven and marvelous eye-catching buildings that shined brilliantly in the face of the sun, she hardly knew anybody. Her part-time job didn’t allow her any free time for insignificant chit-chats between co-workers and the journalism classes she had moved into town to take hadn’t yet started, leaving her with no one to talk to. But that wasn’t the case. That didn’t bother her as much as she tried to convince herself. She was aware she had plenty of time to meet new people.

Her mind turned to the real reason she felt so alone, she remembered Ms. Jones. The woman who raised her. Mr. Jones was a lovely, incredible kind-hearted woman, who would offer help to anyone without asking anything in return. She raised her well, and Amelia could feel her heart throbbing every time she thought about her, missing the calm yet so warm voice of hers, now that she was gone.

Mr. Jones was also the only person who had met her parents. Amelia often asked her questions about them, her mind always curious about what kind of people they were and why they had left her. But Mr. Jones never wanted to talk much about them, she would change the subject and her gaze would fall to the ground as if it was something she wanted to erase from her memory. The only thing Amelia managed to learn about them, was that they were young. Too young to be able to raise a baby. Therefore, they did the only thing they could think of. They gave the baby to their closest neighbor, a woman they knew would raise her as her own child, Mr. Jones. The only thing they had left behind was a photograph that they had requested Mr. Jones to give her when she was old enough to understand. A photograph she would never admit hiding in her red overstuffed wallet, behind all the almost-expired coupons and reward cards she had shoved in there over time. She kind of liked the picture. Her mother was holding her warmly in her skinny arms while her father was standing behind her mother, hugging them both. Their youthful, full-of-life faces were covered in beaming smiles forming their eyes into half-moons, yet a hind o tiredness could be seen in them. No one could have guessed the reality behind the photograph if they didn’t know.

As she was lost inside her own mind, she felt something warm but wet running down her cheek, snatching her out of her thoughts and abruptly capturing her back to reality. Her sweaty hand moved to her face as if it was a bullet out of a gun, quickly wiping her now red and swollen face from the tears she had been shedding. No, she didn’t allow herself to cry, she was stronger than that.

She gradually sat on the bed, her blurred gaze automatically searching outside her rain-soaked window, trying to take a look at the nightmare dressed as a dark silhouette that had been keeping her up all week. It was still there, standing still as a bowling pin forgotten by everyone.

But then, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The shadow moved abruptly, abandoning the frame of its old tattered window, and only a second later, the gleaming yellow light vanished into the darkness. Amelia just starred without blinking, as her mind tried to grasp what had just happened. The unknown man had stopped watching her. He left.

She let her stiff body meet a wave of relaxation as she fell back onto the bed, a huge breath coming out of her lips. The corners of her mouth slowly forming a small smile. “Is he really gone? Is he really..?” she whispered to herself, unable to believe that the man had left so suddenly when he usually stayed until the first hint of light touched the pitch-black atmosphere of the eternal sky. Maybe he’ll come back, maybe this is just temporary her mind didn’t know what to believe, forcing her to take another look at the building across the street, making sure that this wasn’t just her imagination. There was nothing there, just darkness. She quickly chased the hassled thoughts out of her head as she leaned her head back, eyes closed, wanting to enjoy this moment as much as she could.

Her eyes glanced at the old-styled clock hanging on the white wall above her bed. It was half-past nine and she figured she could save a little time for herself to watch some silly program on the television, after all, it seemed like ages since she last did something like that.

As she reached for the remote on her plain brown bedside table, she heard footsteps down the hall coming closer and closer until they unexpectedly stopped. Amelia stopped moving, her eyes widened and all her senses focused on understanding what was going on outside. She heard nothing for a little while until there it was, a sudden, hurried knock. Her body tensed, heartbeat getting faster as she was incapable to think of who that might be, except one man. She heard a knock again, a stronger one, more confident this time, it made her body jump and her mouth let out a small cry. But she had to see who it was. She walked slowly and softly, almost ghostlike until she approached the door, placed her shaking hand gently on top of the wooden surface, and silently looked through the peephole. Her eyes widened as she held back a scream. She quickly backed away from the door, her body shaking as she protectively wrapped her arms around it. On the other side of the door stood what she feared the most, the familiar form of the unknown man. She rubbed her face in distress, not knowing what to do.

“I-i know you’re there!” the man shrieked. “L-look, I don’t want to h-hurt you, I j-just want to t-tell you something”

His voice sounded deep and rough, as the words came out of his mouth almost as if he was pleading. Amelia’s heart was beating so loudly in her chest, she thought the unknown man could hear it. But she wanted all of this to be over, she couldn’t stand it anymore, she had to do something.

“P-please, I have to show you something”, he said desperately.

Amelia didn’t answer, instead, she gathered all the strength she had in herself and walked slowly to the door again, her fingers were colorless white as she grabbed the doorknob, hesitantly opening the door. Her watery gaze met the man’s face first, his eyes looked sad with dark circles underneath them, some lazy wrinkles hugging them around the corners. His brown hair stuck to his forehead, as they were wet from the ongoing rain that night. Amelia felt like she knew the man, like she had seen him somewhere but couldn’t figure out where. His body was slouching and his rounded shoulders looked like they had been carrying a lot of weight throughout the years.

“I’m sorry” His trembling voice whispered as his hands slowly pulled a photograph out of the pocket of his wet, worn-out jacket. He gently gave it to her with shaking hands, his eyes dropped to the ground as if embarrassment filled his body. When she looked at the photograph, she thought time had stopped for her. Tears started streaming down her face like a waterfall, as she rapidly shook her head in denial. She was holding the picture she had memorized by heart, the picture that she had been carrying everywhere with her since she was a child. And only just now she realized why the man looked so familiar. Her hand slowly covered her dry mouth leaving the photograph to fall to the ground, as she looked up at him with a face so white, that looked like it was drained out of blood.

“D-dad?”

July 16, 2021 17:06

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3 comments

Eliza Entwistle
16:41 Jul 21, 2021

This is a well-written mystery that keeps you reading, and your twist at the end was interesting. I noticed some comma splices in your writing, for example the sentence "Her mind turned to the real reason she felt so alone, she remembered Ms. Jones." You could fix that with a conjunction: "Her mind turned to the real reason she felt so alone, and she remembered Ms. Jones" or punctuation: "Her mind turned to the real reason she felt so alone. She remembered Ms. Jones." There was also just the typo of writing Mr. Jones instead of Ms. Jones ...

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Marilena Pairi
17:30 Jul 21, 2021

Thank you very much! Your commend was really helpful! Thanks for pointing that out! It's my first story ever and I was very nervous. I will be more careful next time. Your story was beautiful as well, I really liked the ending!

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Eliza Entwistle
17:41 Jul 21, 2021

Aw thanks! And you're welcome

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