At sundown I made sure the window was locked, and then closed the blinds. After that, I covered all the mirrors in the house with cloths cut to fit them. It was an old routine, carried over from childhood, to keep away monsters.
I sat on the couch and watched television for a few hours. There was nothing interesting on, just the standard clichéd sitcoms and police dramas, and insipid reality shows. It didn’t matter what was on, though. I sat and stared at the screen, listened to the canned laughter, so I wouldn’t have to stare at the bare walls or listen to the silence of an otherwise empty apartment.
At eleven, I turned off the television and went to brush my teeth. As I brushed, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to eat dinner. “Fuck it,” I muttered to myself. Missing a few meals wouldn’t kill me.
On my way to bed I noticed the calendar. My eyes went straight to today’s date, the nineteenth. It would have been our tenth anniversary. I tore the calendar off the wall and tossed it in the trash, as I had everything else that reminded me of her.
The bed welcomed me with warm blankets and a cool pillow. But sleep did not welcome me. I lay there for hours, staring at the ceiling. No matter how hard I tried not to think, my brain simply would not shut off. I spent all night reviewing everything that had gone wrong, everything I could have done differently. Just like every other night. It was a new routine, to let the monsters out of my head.
Maybe if I’d been more attentive, spent less time worrying about work, I’d have caught the warning signs…
Finally, around three, I began to drift off to sleep. That’s when I heard the tapping, like fingers, on my window. Except nobody could tap on a seventh-story window. I felt like a child again, hiding under the blankets from the monster outside my window. I always reassured myself, when I was little, that as long as I didn’t see it the monster couldn’t hurt me.
I sat up in bed and looked at the window. A shadow seemed to hover outside, behind the blinds. I got out of bed and slowly walked across the room. I didn’t really expect to see anything when I raised the blinds; I was an adult, after all.
She was beautiful. Her pale skin and bright eyes were just as lovely as I remembered them, almost shining in the moonlight. I whispered her name, and she smiled.
I opened the window to let her in. She shook her head, and beckoned me to join her instead. I stepped out to join her in the darkness, free from monsters at last.