Fiction · Short Story


A few nights ago I entered my apartment building listening to some music on my iPod. It wasn’t loud to the point where I was about to blow the wee speakers out (which happens way too often), but Mozart’s “Symphony #25” was all that was audible. Now, I consider myself to be a safe person. Growing up in a Pennsylvanian farm town I never really had to worry about potential urban dangers, but I think that the contrast of where I got my beginnings to where I am living now, a neighborhood in Boston, has set me up to be a bit more aware of these potentialities than if I’d lived here since birth. That’s not to say that I grew a set of eyes in the back of my head or I’m starting to have neck pains from looking behind me every few paces while walking down the sidewalk, but my comfort level is not lowered to the point where I act like I’m walking down a dirt farm road back home.

Mozart’s blaring. I arrive at my building, enter, check my mailbox (nothing as usual), and climb the staircase to the second level where my room is. A violin screeches a tad bit stronger than what I am familiar with in this composition as I turn the key, but it doesn’t faze me. I’m tired from riding the T after a longer than usual class session and just want to put down my bag, my guard, and my body. That’s exactly what I do once I get in my apartment. Turning on the light even seemed useless at this point. My alarm is already set for the morning, so I lie down on my bed (ear-buds still in, violins strings still resonating melodies from centuries past) and I’m out.

Next thing I hear is definitely not the percussion from an orchestra, but a rapping on the wooden door of my room. The noise registers in my mind. I open my eyes and at the simultaneously my skin’s pores in most areas of my body (particularly my pits and face) gush with moisture. I’ve lived here for almost a month and nobody has ever knocked on that door. The noise continues, along with, “Boston Police, if you’re home we’d like a word.” I rip the buds out of my ears (the music had stopped) and go to open the eerily peephole-less door.

Although my imagination had begun to protest otherwise, there really was a cop on the other side of the door. More than that, there was a scene out in the hallway. Police tape partitioned off the end of the hall that leads to a back exit and the door for the largest sized apartment on the second floor. A few uniformed men were gesturing toward the staircase and in low voices seemed to be replaying a scenario. The cop outside my door verbally verifies my identification and proceeds to ask if I saw or heard anything out of the usual that evening. I tell him I got in around 10:30 and that nothing appeared or sounded out of place. I add that I’d gone to sleep directly.

He nodded. “A young woman who lives down the hall in 205 went missing this evening. Some of your neighbors say they heard a short series of screams and the rear door slam last night around the same time you say you got to the building. You didn’t hear anything like that?”

“No, sir.” I explain the headphones, the classical music, tell him it was unlikely I’d have heard much of anything that night when I entered the building.

He seems disappointed with me. He puts a few notes down regarding my statement and has me sign that he’d spoken with me.

When I close my door I see that it’s after 3:00 AM. I’m not sure if this country mouse will be able get back to sleep.

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