I need to evict the man who lives in my extra room. He would stare at me as I passed the open door, seemingly puzzled by my existence. I refused to look in his direction but I could feel his soulless gaze tracking my quick shuffle as I made my way into my own bedroom. He was quiet and kept to himself. He didn’t bother me much. In fact, every time I saw him in the living room, he would slip out of view, avoiding the endless chatter I produced. I’m not one to accuse, but I’m sure he was a pervert of some kind. In fact, I was sure but I had little evidence. I kept the bathroom door open a crack to let the steam run out from my shower. I was sure he would stand there watching, his shadow flickering behind the translucent curtain. I’d fling the flimsy plastic back in an effort to catch him in the act. He was sly. He would even carefully close the door, leaving the crack I had left open. I could measure the space between the bathroom door and frame, but I was sure he had taken that into account.
He was crafty and slick, but I was sure it was all in an effort to avoid a confrontation of some sort. The clicks and hums of my apartment kept me occupied in a panic, so I isolated myself in the bedroom and he remained in the infinite space beyond. I started to enjoy my space; there was no fear of running into the enigmatic man. I no longer concerned myself about the world outside, the one on display in my tiny window. One day I even decided to draw the shades and the world disappeared entirely. No longer concerned, I spiraled into a comforting vortex, one that was inside of me all along, one I was sure was in each and every one of us. This was home. This was peace.
Soon my little bubble burst and the man whispered in the crack of my door, “Your rent is due.” I found the courage to get dressed and ventured outside. Day in, day out. Short snippets of a closed box drew my attention away from the task at hand; I wanted to go back home. Rent day came and I slipped the cheque underneath the superintendent’s door. The next day I worked just so that I could have my hours tallied at the end of the month, hours of my life that I would never recuperate, just to get a pay cheque that paid for an apartment I barely lived in because I worked. I could just lay in the little box for all eternity, I once told myself. If it weren’t this one, there would be others. But something drove me out. The clicks and hums got louder; when I told him to stop making such a racket, I got no answer and the noise increased. It was maddening. I was fearful. I tucked myself away in my blankets and prayed for it to stop. He would leave one day, I reassured myself, this was only temporary.
But I was a prisoner in my own home. Rarely did I go into the other parts of the house anymore. I would paced the length of the hallway and until finally I settled on the couch in the living room. One night, I decided to blast the TV in an effort to drown out the noise coming from nooks and crannies of the apartment. I sat and waited, for something… for him? A shadow moved from behind the couch; I was on high alert. I was transfixed by fear. If I moved, he would see me, I convinced myself.
I had high hopes that he would leave as things only got worse. His mere presence elicited fear, a sense of dread filled every room. The walls were closing around me unsuspectingly and the moment I turned to face them, they would retreat. I decided it was safer to spend my time in the small coffee shop down the street but the judgement in the barista’s eyes made me anxious. So I left and returned to my room. As I passed the extra room, I was quick and refused to look in the void that would certainly suck me in.
I was purposefully leave my bedroom door open as I patiently waited for his shadow in the corner of my eye. I went about my day, confided by the dusty white walls and second-hand furniture. I could feel a breath linger on my neck and fingers clasp around my bare shoulder as I emptied my soul onto a billboard that no one would care to read until it was too late. He was there, I knew he was there. Mustering the courage, I ventured outside and looked into the empty extra room where he waited for me.
“I waited for you,” his voice was harsh and below a murmur, my ears strained to pick up the words coming from his lipless mouth.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
His eyeless holes shut for a brief moment, then opened larger until they took up half his face, devoid of colour. “I’m always here. I’m not going anywhere.”
I swear to you: there’s a man living in my empty spare room. He has lived there for quite some time. But one day he will leave, I keep telling myself. I’m waiting to evict the man in my room. His eyeless stare and smile with no lips haunt my dreams.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he reminds me. And I know he’s right.
Image: found on Pinterest -artist unknown