Before I can choose any of these not-so-stellar options I hear Marnie’s voice. Our walls are paper thin (I’m truly beginning to regret moving into this piece of shit apartment) so most of our time is spent filling the place with sound: television, music, anything to keep from hearing what the other person is doing every minute of the day.
I’ve never wanted to eavesdrop before but I can hear her muttering – to herself, right? It’s got to be to herself – and I find myself pressing an ear to the shared wall between our rooms.
“Warm,” she’s saying in a low, strange voice, “warm and nice, warm and dark. Thank you. Thank you for the warm dark place.”
This is all it takes for me to consider calling a psychiatric hotline yet she goes on.
“More will come,” Marnie says. “More and more. Need more dark. No light. All dark. Get rid of light. And STOP LISTENING TO ME!”
The last part comes as a shriek right next to my ear; I almost scream myself and jerk away from the wall. My hands are trembling, my heart is in my throat. She startled me good – how did she know I was listening?
I glance towards my door to see if she’ll burst in but all I see is a lone cockroach braving the bright afternoon to stare at me from the floor, its antennae moving in a slow, sure rhythm: up, down, up, down.
I pick up the can of expired ant-killer and shake it but the rattle-clatter sends the roach skittering back under the door and into the hallway. I check my phone desperately for a text from Landlord Jack. No dice.
Enough is enough. I can only deal with one problem at a time and the roaches can be handled easier so I call Jack and wait impatiently as the phone rings, my legs tucked up tight under me. I have the strange itchy sensation like when you’ve just caught a bug crawling on you even though I don’t think there are any more roaches in my room (right now).
It rings and rings and rings and Landlord Jack never picks up.