She was sitting alone in her kitchen, sipping on a warm cup of tea. The smell of peppermint drifting up, filling her lungs as she took a few deep breaths. She was exhausted – the day had been too long, and it was only half done. Her to-do list was endless and the thought of moving made her want to vomit.
As she sat there, she let her mind wander, and then settle. A calm stillness. Everything was quiet when she heard the bedroom door slam. Her heart fluttered. No one else was home, it was just her and the dog, who was curled up at her feet.
Her familiar friend, panic, set in.
The fear pulsated in her head, rushing down her body, then back up, causing bile to churn in her gut. She bit her tongue, a habit she had developed as a child, and it reminded her of the therapist who tried to teach her CBT, a few simple gimmicks to deal with her anxiety. It didn’t work then, and it would not work now.
She tried anyway. Deep breath in, slowly, pause, exhale out, slowly. Nothing. Of course.
She was sure no one was home. And her phone was charging in the bedroom. The dog was not barking but that didn’t mean anything. He was pretty mellow now, at 10 years old. He barely woke up, and when he did it was to shift his weight closer to her.
She placed her cup down, and slowly walked toward the hallway – it was like a funhouse, the floor shifting up and down, as her heart raced inside of her. The lighting was so dim and she could hardly see that someone was at the end of the hallway, staring at her. But she could. She could see teeny eyes staring back at her – like a creepy rodent peaking out from the sewer.
Relax. It’s nothing. Nothing is really there. She repeated the words in her head until she believed them. Sort of.
She crept to the end of the hallway and placed her hand on the door, letting her hand slip down to the knob. Her breathing was faster now, the blood pounding in her veins as she turned her hand, closing her eyes before pushing the door open.
There was light bleeding in through the window. The open window. The curtain blowing with a light breeze. She scanned the room. Some papers had fallen over, a picture had been knocked down. There was a strange smell – burnt wax, and cigarettes. She didn’t smoke.
She walked further into the room, peaking into the large closet, her breathing heavy and shallow. She turned her head, continuing to glance around the room.
There was nothing there.
She glanced at her phone, no messages, as always. Nowadays that was the norm. She walked to the window, and closed it. Her hand on the glass, remembering she had opened it to let some fresh air in. She shut her eyes tight. Her body relaxed. She was an idiot. So stupid. She let her panic take over again.
As she reopened her eyes, she saw her best friend standing there.
“Fucks sake,” she said. “You scared the shit outta me.”
“What’re you doing here?”
“I miss you.”
“I miss you too.” She said, her eyes growing wet. “Just don’t do that again, okay?”
They walked down the hallway together. It’d be nice to have tea with her again. Her best friend had died only two weeks ago, but it felt like eons had gone by.