A new pack of playing cards made an adequate birthday present. Dennis had just had his 9th birthday party and was ready for the kids from his class to go home. He did enjoy their company but he knew that the few that had shown were just in it for the cake and ice cream. His mother owned a popular cake shop and the kids were quite aware of the excellent sweets. Dennis sighed when his classmates sang happy birthday to him. He didn't dare to look around at the group of people so he locked his gaze onto the flickering candle that sat, slightly crooked, on top of the cake his mother made. His mother took pictures, his classmates looked bored but hopeful for cake, and his aunt, uncle, and cousins clapped and cheered loudly for his special day. Through the uncomfortable hype of the moment, Dennis disconnected from his wailing guests, and for a short while, it was just him and the candle flame.
One morning, I got out of bed and noticed that there was a slight itch on the back of my head. I ran my fingers through my hair and felt a tiny bump resting on my scalp. "What is that?" It stung when I touched it. Maybe it was a bug bite? I went on with my day, ignoring the small blemish on the back of my head. No one would see it anyway.
My best friend Jordan and I went on a camping trip. It wasn't at one of those campgrounds with facilities and a pool; we were on our own in the woods. Just the two of us. After parking the car at the entrance of the dispersed campground, we grabbed our heavy backpacks with all of our supplies and headed down the trail. At first, things seemed typical. It was a nice day, the sun was out but it wasn't too hot, and the trees gently swayed about. This wasn't our first time camping on our own. We knew what to expect.
No Face Knocking
Once I was walking my dog at night down the street and a stranger was following us. Heidi would look back and growl at the person. All I wanted to do was to keep on moving and get home but this person never diverged. It was like they were glued to my back. Heidi would growl and then whimper; her tail drooped. The stranger's footsteps began to match mine. Why would they do that? They knew that I knew they were behind me. My dog made it obvious. I realized I didn't want to lead this person to where I lived. I lived alone. This was bad. I got a quick glance at the person behind me but I couldn't see their face. I swung my eyes forward and began to pace faster. I looked back again and stared. I couldn't make out any features as I attempted to squint them into existence. And even though I was looking at the person while I walked, they kept on walking the same.
Something about the apartment made me feel uneasy but there was nowhere else to go. I was lucky enough to find this cheap, run-down one-bedroom. I had been kicked out of a friend's house for staying longer than anticipated. That was my bad. Everything was fine I guess. My friend had helped me find this place; fifth-floor apartment with no elevator, one bedroom, bathroom, and a combined living room and kitchen. The water would run cold most of the time and the paint on the walls were faded and chipping. The wooden floors were old and warped. It was a perfect space to find roaches but I think I got them all after moving in the week prior. Just perfect.