There’s a moment where the silence in the apartment seems electric, almost crackling, and I get this wild impulse to jump up and lock my bedroom door – which is exactly what I do, just as the knob begins to rattle beneath my hand.
“Jesssssssica,” Marnie says, the ‘s’ in my name coming out in a slow hiss, “Let me in, Jesssssssica, I want to talk to you.”
“I’m getting ready to take a nap,” I blurt without thinking. “Do we have to talk right now? Because I’m getting ready to take a nap, so, you know, I’m about to take a nap.”
A slow tap-tap-tap of fingernails on the door.
“Jesssssssica, can’t we jusssst talk for a minute?”
I look down to see one, two, three cockroaches creeping under the door. In a manic moment of disgust I stomp down on each of them – one, two, three – and I swear I hear Marnie hiss again. The roaches leave cake-batter smashes on the hardwood.
“No, I’m pretty tired.” I’m already reaching for the pile of dirty tee shirts in my hamper; I grab a handful and shove them under the door, blocking the entrance for any more curious cockroaches. “Just gonna lay down, get some shut-eye, you know?” ‘Shut-eye’? Am I a folksy old grandma? Clearly I’m not good at improvising but the tap-tap-tap only comes one more time before I hear her footsteps trailing away, towards the living room, and when Marnie is out of earshot I let out my breath in a relieved whoosh.
I dial Jack’s number again. Still nothing. I shove more tee shirts under the door and hope that will stop the disgusting little fucks.
Marnie is clearly unhinged. I don’t know what caused it – if I had to guess, her unemployment, and how that meant crawling back to her parents for more money, which she swore she’d never do – but something has happened, she is not in her right mind and she has been pushed over the edge. I would call her family but I don’t have their number, and right now I’m honestly too scared to leave my room unless I know she’s gone.
I check my phone again, uselessly. Nothing.