The wind howled in the night while smacking up against the house, which made me get out of bed and shuffle over to the window.
I stared directly across the street at my neighbor’s bedroom window and shook my head when the outline of a teenage girl popped out at me. I would be lying if I said this hadn’t happened before, which begged the question if my neighbor was keeping her prisoner in his house.
Rob repositioned himself in my bed. “Come back to bed.”
The girl continued standing right where she was while tears rolled down her cheeks.
“In a minute,” I said.
“What could possibly be so important that you want to stay up? I mean we already wasted the opportunity of your parents being away for the night.”
The hairs on my back pricked up at the arrival of a man who was now standing by the girl in the window from across the street. His eyes widened as he stared at me a few seconds longer than he should have before he jerked the girl by her ponytail.
“There’s a girl standing by the window. You have to see it.”
“So what? It’s not our problem your neighbor has insomnia.”
I turned around to face him. “Just get out of bed and look.”
He sighed. “Fine. If it really means that much to you...”
Rob got out of bed, scurrying to the window.
“There’s no one there, Claire.”
I whipped my body around again only to discover that Rob was right because the curtains had been closed in the bedroom window across the street.
“I’m telling you there was a girl. You have to believe me.”
“It doesn’t matter now, does it?”
Rays of sunlight poked through my bedroom the following morning, signaling that taking out the trash could no longer be ignored.
I darted out of bed, leaving Rob to himself since he would have had a fit if I woke him up before noon on a Saturday.
It wasn’t long before I trekked outside, as I didn’t even bother to scoff or roll my eyes at the realization that it was yet another day of sepia drenched across the sky.
Something touched my back after I dumped the trash in the garbage can, causing me to scream.
I blinked and then opened my eyes again, realizing it was the man from the previous evening.
“You know, it would behoove you to mind your own business young lady,” said the man.
I put my hands on my hips. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“I think you can figure that out yourself.”
“Are you threatening me?” I asked.
“No. I wouldn’t say that.”
“I’m not the one that grabbed someone in an abusive manner last night.”
Something splashed onto the ground, causing my attention to shift towards the man’s trash. I cringed at the discovery of trickling blood from a towel that snuck out several inches from the garbage can while the scent of bleach wafted through the air.
“There’s blood oozing out of your garbage can.”
“So, what’s your point?”
“Did you have an accident or something?”
The man remained silent while refusing to look away from me.
I inhaled a breath, forcing air into my lungs. “Tell me something. Who was that girl standing by the window last night?”
He smiled at me, showcasing his crooked teeth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The man was gone before I could even open my mouth again and his front door slammed behind him, echoing in the background.
I bit down on one of my nails while the mattered simmered in my mind for another few moments.
He could have prepared a cut of meat that was bloody and made a mess, which forced him to use bleach to clean it up. No. That couldn’t be it. People didn’t use bleach to clean up a mess from a piece of meat since the motives had to be more nefarious than that. After all, it was the only logical answer.
I went back inside several minutes later and turned on the TV in the kitchen as I let the eggs crackle in the frying pan for a bit.
“Today marks the three year anniversary of Kim Lively’s disappearance, and the case remains unsolved to this day. She would now be 18,” said the news anchor.
I stared at the photograph the news had propped up on the screen as I blinked several times, realizing she had an uncanny resemblance to the girl in the window.
The increased volume of the sizzling of the eggs in the frying pan forced my attention back to the stove, making me press the off button on the remote.
The TV turned black in a flash before I scooped the eggs onto a plate.
But I knew the truth, and that was enough for now even if I had been the only one to see the girl. Although for what it was worth, I never saw the girl again because it was as if she vanished into oblivion.
Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on the
online magazine Thought Catalog. He has also had several stories
published on online literary magazines, which include "Surface
Tension" on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, "A Little Accident" and "The
House That Never Was" on Quail Bell Magazine, "The Wronger Murder",
"Game Over", and "Poof and I'm Gone" on Short-story.me. Furthermore,
Pidgeonholes Magazine will publish one of his stories in December.