13. Flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop, walking toward my door.
“One night, I was in bed, getting ready to go to sleep. I was around 17, living in my parents’ basement. I heard someone open the basement door and start walking down the steps. It sounded like they were wearing flip-flops, which was odd, because it was fairly cold outside at the time. They came down the steps, flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop, and then stopped. I thought it might be my brother, but he was out with friends, and never wore flip flops. I called out anyway, ‘Jake? Is that you?’ No answer. Flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop, walking toward my door. ‘Dad? Mom?’ No answer. The knob on my door started to move. No dice. It’s locked. There was an audible, disappointed sigh. Then, flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop, away from my door and back up the steps. I was straight-up scared. I grabbed a baseball bat and went out to the living room dividing the bedrooms. Nothing. No one in the bathroom, no one in my brother’s room, no one on the steps. We had two phone lines at the house, so I called my parents’ line. ‘Dad, did you see headlights come up the driveway, or hear anyone come in the house?’ He hadn’t. ‘Did you or mom just come downstairs wearing flip-flops?’ ‘What? No. Go back to bed, son.’ So I did. Eventually. I thought someone had snuck into our house. It was the most genuinely terrified I’d ever been.
Not until the next day did I realize that, one year ago to the day, my cousin had taken his own life. I was one of the last people to talk to him, and we’d made plans to get together to catch up.
He wore flip-flops almost every single day.”