The Woman Next Door (short story)

By P. Wish —

The sharp sound of lightning permeated through the glass window. The wind swooshed violently, blowing away leaves and trees. The damp soil smelled sinister in the stormy weather. Edward looked out of the window. His eyes fell on a tiny female figure that stood outside the door. The wind slapped her face. She wore a red rain coat. She hurriedly entered the code and opened the door to the apartment. Her form disappeared. Edward turned to the gurgling hot water kettle. Steam rose from the mouth of the white, plastic kettle and fogged up the window pane. Edward walked towards the kettle. He turned the switch off. He poured the boiling water into a cup of instant noodles and closed the lid.

apartment

Footsteps traveled up the stairs. Edward’s eyes darted to the door. He heard footsteps near the hallway. He approached the door handle and turned it open. He stepped out of the apartment. He saw a shadow disappear into apartment no. 403. His eyes trailed to the carpet that lined the corridor. There were no water droplets on the carpet. He wondered if the woman had taken off her raincoat before entering her apartment. He closed the door and went back to his instant noodles. He was sure that he had seen the back of her red raincoat disappear into apartment no. 403.

The next evening, Edward got home early from work. He stood in the elevator, shuffling his heavy bag uncomfortably. He pressed ‘4’ and waited for the elevator to close. Before it closed completely, he saw somebody emerge. The door opened. Her dark blue eyes looked into his intensely. He moved to one end of the elevator. She stepped in. He recognised her from the previous day. She was the woman who lived in 403. She carried a large brown bag. Her heels clicked as she walked into the elevator. The door closed. His eyes turned to her. She wore a black suit and a string of pearls. Her dark hair was tied up. Had she returned from a funeral?

The elevator door opened. The woman stepped out. She walked rapidly on the carpeted floor. She stopped before apartment number 404. Edward followed her. His eyes remained fixed on the apartment number she stood before. She produced a key from the large bag. He wanted to warn her that she was standing before the wrong apartment. Before he could, she inserted the key into the keyhole. The door opened. Edward was too surprised to react. She walked into the apartment and closed her door. He stared at her blankly.

He walked over to his door. ‘406’ was inscribed on it in a golden metal. He inserted the key and opened the door. He stepped into his apartment. The familiar mess greeted him. He thought about what happened. He took a deep breath and dismissed it. He must’ve seen the wrong number last night. He ate takeaway and fell asleep.

The next evening, Edward returned late from work. He carried his bag and stepped into the elevator. He got out on the fourth floor. He turned to his apartment. Before he could plug the key in, he heard footsteps. He stopped. The woman from 404 emerged from the staircase. She was breathless. She had taken the stairs. He took a step forward. She rushed to the apartment next to his. She ignored his presence. A shiny silver key lay in her hand. She inserted the key into the keyhole. The door opened. She walked in and shut the wooden door behind her. The number inscribed on the door imprinted itself in Edward’s mind. This time, it was ‘405’. He was intrigued. He wanted to knock on the door and ask her why she kept moving apartments everyday.

Edward walked into his apartment. He thought about his mysterious neighbour for a few minutes. He didn’t hear any sound from her apartment all night. He wondered if she had gone to sleep early. He turned off the TV and slept at midnight.

The next evening, Edward came home early from work. According to his calculation, the woman next door was supposed to visit his apartment that day. He opened the door to his apartment hurriedly. What greeted him was not the predictable messy room, overflowing laundry and white kettle but something unexpected. The woman from next door stood before him. How had she managed to get into the house? There was nothing but a dark vacuum in the apartment. She floated on air.

“Wh…What is this?” he asked unable to contain his surprise. Everything was gone. Chairs flew in the vacuum. Emptiness enveloped them.

“Welcome home,” she said in a low voice. “It’ll all be fine when you wake up tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” he looked into her eyes. “Who are you? Why do you visit a new apartment each day?”

“Well, I am not from here. By coming into this world, I messed up time. That’s why, I have to move houses everyday. It’ll go on till I readjust.”

“Readjust?”

“Good night,” she said. Her soft voice was the last thing he remembered.

The next morning, Edward stepped out of his apartment. The dull beige carpet and deserted corridor greeted him. He locked the door.

“Good morning,” a tiny voice said. He turned to the right to see his neighbour locking her door. He knew he had seen those blue eyes somewhere but couldn’t remember where.

“I moved in last week,” she said with a smile.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Edward,” he said. They shook hands.

“Are you going to work?” she asked.

“You too?” he asked. “Where do you work?”

“It’s a mile away from here,” she said.

“Let’s car pool.”

They walked down the staircase busy complaining about the stormy weather.


P. Wish is a self published author and blogger. She graduated with an honours degree in law form The University of Manchester. For more information, visit, www.pwish.net

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Michael DeCesaris
Acknowledgements: This short story was written by autho more...

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