“Hello? It’s me… Hello? Can you hear me?”
With a gasp, I woke, swinging my arms to defend myself against whoever it was who had broken into my apartment and whispered in my ear. No one…
I grabbed the old frying pan tucked between the nightstand and my bed. I don’t have a bat, never played ball. I guess a frying pan is sort of stereotypically a woman’s weapon, but hey, I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one. I crept around my studio apartment, checking the bathroom, the closet, the kitchenette…nothing. I checked the door, still locked, just like I’d left it. Checked every window. Locked, undisturbed. Huh. Must have been a dream. But I could have sworn that was a real person, a real voice, right next to me. With a sigh, I sat down on the couch clutching the frying pan to my chest. After a deep breath or two, my heart rate slowed down enough to go back to bed.
“Hello? Don’t you think we should talk? Can you hear me?”
Okay, that was no dream! Hello? Yeah, I can hear you, who are you, and why the heck are you in my apartment?? Where are you?! You wanna talk, let’s talk!
…nothing. I checked under the couch, behind the clothes hanging in the closet, behind the shower curtain, in the coat closet…nothing. Door, windows, still locked. It was a woman’s voice, I could tell this time. Maybe it makes me chauvinistic, but that was comforting. I think I could handle a woman burglar. Why the heck would a burglar, even if they were a woman, want to chat? Must have been a dream. Must have.
“Hello? Look, I’m sorry for breaking your heart, but honestly it seems like you’re over it. Well, I’m not. Can you hear me?”
I had the frying pan under my pillow this time and swung it out and in every direction fast enough that I should have at least startled whoever was there. No one. This isn’t funny! Mike, it’s you, isn’t it? You planted a speaker, or something, when you were here the other night. I know it’s you! Joke’s up, you’re real good, but I figured it out, so knock it off so I can get some sleep, you freak! And I spent the next hour searching for the speaker. I even sliced open my favorite pillow. You’re buying me a new pillow, Mike! And it’s going to be months before you’re invited back here, pal! I let out a long, irritated, exhausted sigh. Who does that? So rude. So wrong.
“Hello? I know there’s a lot between us…maybe too much…just answer! Can you hear me? I’m sorry!”
Ahhhh!!!! Stop it! STOP! Yes, I can hear you! What do you want? I don’t know you, you didn’t break my heart, there’s nothing between us, everything’s fine, you’re forgiven, sure, whatever, now shut up! Please! Where are you? Look, I won’t call the cops, I swear, just come out, you can leave, I can sleep, it’s great for both of us, really. Hello? HELLO??
“Hello? Why don’t you answer?”
I tried the cold shoulder approach. Sometimes that makes women shut up in protest, you know–if you won’t talk to me, I won’t talk to you. Like they think they can wait you out, and that you care. Ha. Not this guy.
“Hello? I’ve tried a thousand times to talk to you, why are you ignoring me?”
What! Me, ignoring you?? Shoot…broke the silent streak…whatever. Look, lady, get out of my apartment!
“We’re running out of time…you’re running out of time…”
Yeah, you’re right, it’s three o’clock in the morning and I am quickly running out of time to sleep before I have to go to work. Geez, lady!
“Hello from the other side…”
Eh? Other side of what?
“…from the other side…”
An hour went by…nothing, no more weird, random comments. Whew. Snuggling tight my frying pan, I started to drift off, thinking of just how to get my revenge on Mike.
“HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE!”
With a yelp more fitting a puppy than a grown man, I jolted awake. There, laying next to me on the bed, was a woman. She wasn’t wholly solid, though. She looked like a hologram or a projection, faded and thin and transparent.
Who the–? What! Ahhhh!!!!
“It’s me, I know it’s been a while–” She looked me in the eye and her overly dramatic sad, remorseful expression turned immediately to confusion, like I wasn’t at all what–or who–she expected to see. “You aren’t–but, I thought–oh my goodness. This is so embarrassing.”
She fumbled a few times over a few attempts to say something else before, after dawning once again the extremely melancholy frown and big, tearful eyes, she vanished.