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Bitter Sweet

The Cookie Monster is Born

By Jennifer DavidPublished 4 months ago 17 min read
3
Bitter Sweet
Photo by Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash

Wednesday

An explosion of shattered glass ripped me from sleep. Instinctually, I rolled off my bed to the floor, as fast as possible and stayed as low as I could.

The window across from me was the one that broke. But I couldn’t yet see what broke it. Too afraid to get up, I listened to see if I heard anything else alarming.

Nothing.

Before I moved, I grabbed my phone off the nightstand. But I didn’t turn it, or any lights, on as I searched my room to conceal my movements. I wasn't if I was being watched from outside. And my eyes were already adjusted to the darkness. So, I could see large objects that could be out of place.

Near the glass scattered across the wood floors, there was a spray paint can with a letter on it. Uncertain if I should touch it, I left the note and looked out the window. I gasped. On the brick building across from my apartment, someone painted a heart in red ink. It seems like a harmless gesture but there was nothing endearing about vandalism and breaking into someone’s home in the middle of the night.

Quickly, I dialed 911. I left my room and ran from my apartment. In the hall I hobbled, as fast I could to my neighbor Neil’s apartment and wildly knocked on his door. I didn’t even notice the cuts in my feet.

“Help!” I yelled! “Let me–”

“911 what’s your emergency?” I faintly heard in the background. They repeated, “911 what’s your–”

“My name is Leah and someone broke into my apartment!”

While I was speaking with 911 my neighbor Mrs. Gannon called to me, from her apartment below.

“Leah? Is everything ok?” she asked.

“Mrs. Gannon, can I come inside? Someone threw a spray can through my window after vandalizing the wall across the street.”

“Ma’am focus. Is anyone inside your apartment?” the operator asked as they pulled me back to the call.

“I don’t think so,” I replied; “but I’m not sure.”

“Alright. Officers are on their way to you, be calm and stay somewhere safe.”

I walked down to Mrs Gannon’s apartment. She pointed towards my feet and up the stairs at the trail of blood behind me and said, “Leah you’re hurt!” She said, "come in.We’ll get you cleaned up.”

I followed Mrs. Gannon into her apartment and shut the door . She was methodical as she moved around. She called over her shoulder, “wait right there. I’ll get something for your feet” She disappeared. She must have been equally as concerned for her floors as she was for my cuts.

Moments later she came back with an old towel, a rag, first aid kit, and socks. She sat them down on a bench by the door. And said "this should work." “I’ll wait with you until the police come. Use this to clean yourself up," she finished.

I understood her. She was helping, but not fully welcoming, me into her home. We were neighbors but mostly strangers. Honestly, I was just grateful she came to my rescue. With that, I allowed myself a small smile and sighed. Then she disappeared into the kitchen. I tended to my feet with the tweezers from the med kit. Luckily, there weren’t too many pieces of glass. By the time I pulled a few out Mrs. Gannon was back with a small garbage can that she placed down by my feet. Then, quietly she went and sat. She didn’t say a word, just waited. Eventually, after I removed the glass, I closed my eyes and relaxed.

A breath later, footsteps were outside the door. I opened my eyes. Mrs. Gannon was already on her feet peeking through the peep hole. She glanced back at me and opened the door.

“We’re here, officer,” she said; before she turned to me and nodded. She walked back through her living room and sat on the couch with the remote and gave us some privacy.

I spoke to the police. They went to my apartment and came back with the opened note in their hands.

“Is this a joke?” the officer glared at me. He handed me the note. My palms were so sweaty the ink could have smeared. It read:

“Meet me. You know when. You know where.”

That was it, written on wax paper, with no signature. I had no idea what it meant. “This isn't a joke;” I explained, “I have no idea about any of this–” I trailed off as I wiped a stray tear and sniffled. I knew this smell. Shocked, I looked at the officer and said “this smells like my favorite cookies.”

“Yeah, and?” The officer, now bored, looked at his partner. I hadn’t noticed him.

“You can only get them between 12 and 3 on Fridays. It’s a pop up shop that sells out almost immediately that I go to religiously. I arrive when they open. It's not too far from here.”

“Are you referring to Cindy’s Chocolate Chips Ma’am?” His partner asked. I nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard of it. My girlfriend goes there,” he smirked.

I rolled my eyes and said “the wax paper must be from there.”

Both officers exchanged glances and said, “ do you know anyone who'd want to harm you who knows you frequent there?”

“I don’t,” I said sternly.

“Well, do you have anywhere to stay tonight?” He said, “you shouldn't stay here until you can get that window fixed.”

“Yes,” I replied.

Saturday

“Are you sure you want to go home so soon? Your window is fixed and we checked your apartment; but, what happened on Wednesday was scary, Lee” my best friend Ashley said.

“I’m sure Ash. I can’t move into your apartment full time,” I joked as we walked.

“Yes you can!” She exclaimed.

“I don’t think Brennon would be too excited about that.”

“He doesn’t mind Leah. Do you Bren?” She glared at him.

Brennon quickly looked at me, and Ashley, and said ‘if Leah wants to go back and it's safe, it’s probably best if she does to get over what happened.” If Ashley’s head could’ve burst off her neck it would’ve just then.

“Brennon, I can't believe you. You’re an insensitive ass!”

Brennon quickly added “Leah I didn’t mean you aren't welcome. It seemed like you were ready to go home and our apartment is sma–”

I cut him off before he could get into more trouble with my best friend and said, “no, I’m ready. And your apartment, It's cozy. But with me on the couch, and all of us sharing a bathroom, it’s cramped. I’m scared but–”

“See?!?! She's scared” Ashley interjected.

“But I'm ready to figure this out,” I finished. “Thank you for everything” I said, as I winked at Brennon and smiled at Ashley.

I love Ashley. She has a huge heart and wears it like an S on her chest. She's bubbly and boisterous. Whereas, I tend to be quiet and keep to myself. She's my perfect counterpart.

After the tension broke, we fell into easy conversation on our walk. Once we rounded the corner of my block Ash and Bren insisted on walking me in before they got their cab home.

At my door, we stopped and stared at my welcome mat. Sitting on it was a pink box from Cindy’s. There was no message, just the box. Ashley gasped and Brennon stepped in front of both of us to pick it up.

He looked inside and quickly dropped it. “Leah, do they usually have icing on their cookies?” he asked.

“No, why?”

“Call the cops.”

To my surprise Brennon was insisted that I shouldn’t stay. It was like seeing the cookie was what made him realize the guy was unhinged, not breaking my window in the middle of the night. It was ridiculous

When the police arrived, we showed them the box. They asked if we saw anything else out of place. Too shocked by what we saw, we hadn’t even checked. The police did, though, and found nothing out of the ordinary, except outside my window. Written in black paint, across the street, was a message:

“You didn’t”

That’s all it said.

After that, with the police unsure of what to do with such little information, I stayed with Ashley again.

The next Friday

Police spotted a man in a hoodie walking to my apartment with a box from Cindy’s. They stopped him, and investigated. It was Niel, my neighbor. Niel explained he was trying the cookies for the first time. But even with his answers, they were still suspicious and contacted me. Surprisingly, they seemed concerned by my lack of suspicion of Niel. He isn’t a bother to anyone. He’s just a recluse. I rarely see or speak to him. In a weird way, I almost wish I'd been there to see him make his rare appearance. He seems cool. Anyway, my instincts were telling me that Niel wasn't the culprit.

Monday

Nothing happened over the weekend but by Monday morning I heard news of a fire at Cindy's. It was a minor fire. The department was easily able to put it out without significant damage to the shop. However, they wouldn't open for the foreseeable future according to social media.

That afternoon, the police contacted me about the situation. They said officers went to my apartment after the incident to investigate any relation to my case. But there was nothing. They said that they had left my building but would come back and walk through with me.

I made plans with them to meet later; however, within the hour I received a call from Mrs. Gannon.

“Hello?” I said questioningly.

“Leah,” Mrs Gannon said; “Your door is open and smoke is coming out? Are you home?"

I almost dropped my phone and said “no, I’m not but I’ll call 911 and be there. Make sure you can get out of the building if you have to.” I dialed 911 and hurried home, after I texted Brennon and Ashley.

The fire department, police, and EMS were already at my building by the time I arrived. Luckily there wasn't a fire, just a ton of smoke. My door was propped open with a huge fan from the fire department and the windows were open wide. It smelled like burnt cookies.

I turned to the kitchen and saw a crowd of police and fire fighters standing around the island talking about yet another note between left for me. Behind them, on the stove, was a sheet of burnt cookies. We spoke and they told me what the note read: “I’d never let you go without them,” signed with a heart.

After that, I saw red. My hands trembled. I felt like my head was a hot air balloon. Tremors itched down my spine. And a craze, I’d never experienced, washed over me. I have been too calm recently. Danger was kissing me on the cheek daily and I feigned a whimsical flush rather than accepting what type of person I was dealing with. I was being violated. And the police were working on the case, yes. But were they doing their best? Did they care? Was I properly protecting myself? My mind flooded with these questions. But the answers, however, were not pointing in anyone’s favor.

I exploded, then. I threw the cookies against the wall and yelled a tear stain screech of frustration. I unleashed all my warranted feelings at everyone. No one made a sound. Their eyes were wide and hands were raised quickly in surrender. In a moment though, the shock dissipated and they moved. One cleaned the mess on the floor, another observed, some walked outside, and the closest to me failed to console me. I shrieked and marched to my room and slammed the door.

Later, light knocks sounded on my bedroom door followed by someone saying “we’re going to come back in the morning.” The voice continued, “an officer will be parked outside your window. If you can, have someone come stay with you. Good night ma’am.”

I didn’t call anyone. I needed to be alone. Someone clearly wanted my attention, but who? Why would they do this to me? Did I deserve this? I dozed off.

I woke up, what seemed to be a few hours after, with a hand on my neck. My bedroom door was ajar. And I was about to scream but the hand tightened as its owner shushed me.

“Hi,” he said.

I looked at him and couldn’t find the words to speak, even if I could breathe. He’s one of the officers who was working my case. Officer KC James, he’s the one who heard of Cindy’s from his girlfriend. He also picked up the cookies after I threw the pan.

“You’re…”

“I was your boyfriend,” he interrupted.

“What are you talking about?” I cried.

He made a tsk noise, “ We’ve been seeing each other for awhile now, Leah. Months ago I saw you while I was on patrol. You were walking in the direction of what I now know is Cindy’s, one Friday afternoon. You were beautiful. You had headphones in and smiled so sweetly at whatever you were listening to. Your smile was alluring. It called to me. It was for me. You just didn’t know it yet.

The very next day, I made sure to be on the same street at the same time, hoping to see you. You weren’t there.

My next day off, I waited the whole day in my car. No luck. For the next week, I waited for you at noon, every day. It took until the next Friday before I saw you again. When I saw you, I couldn’t lose you again. So I followed you. And you brought us to Cindy’s. I almost got on line to talk to you. But instead, I waited. I still don’t understand why you’d wait in such a line for those ridiculous cookies. Because I knew you were much sweeter. That day I followed you home. And for the next few days I learned all I could about you.

Last week, I finally decided to go up to you at Cindy's. You were so sweet, and kind. We arrived at the same time, which was not by mistake. I let you go first. But you insisted I go ahead of you. So I did. ‘Chivalry’s not dead,’you said. I could’ve melted right then. You were intoxicating. You had me salivating. You were the most curious cookie I’d never tasted. I had to get my bite.

Eventually, I bought my cookie and paid for yours too,'the person behind me' was what I told the baker. She nodded and winked before she gave me my cookie. Slowly, I walked down the street. And I wasn’t too far before I heard your hurried footsteps behind me. You ran up and thanked me. But before I could get your name, which I already knew, you ran away. I smirked knowing I’d see you again.

That night after the fuss about the window being broken, I went into your apartment. I didn’t mean to break the window. It was supposed to be romantic. The can was only supposed to hit the window and roll back onto the fire escape-- one of my favorite places to watch you sleep. I wanted you to smile down at me after recognizing me from Cindy’s once you smelled my note. When the window shattered, I quickly ran out of sight and waited for dispatch. Then I made my way upstairs with my partner. You were safe so there was no rush.

I let my partner take the lead. He knocked on the door and spoke to your neighbor while I watched and listened out of sight. We came back moments later with your note. You know the rest of that part.”

By now he was sweating as he spoke, lost in his obsession, “that night however, I was fuming. I couldn’t get over the fact that you were not going to be home. It was my own fault but I couldn’t handle it. Rather than following you that night, I knew where you were going; I went back to your apartment when my shift was over.

I was devastated. In showing you that I love you. I hurt you. And I only ever wanted to see your sugary smile. I was lost and needed your comfort.

On entering your apartment building, I took my time. I slid my hands up the railing where I knew yours had been. You never walked up or down the stairs without putting your safety first. It’s cute.

I cleaned my shoes on Neil’s welcome mat. I hated him. He lived way too close to you. But I couldn’t do anything about him, not yet anyways. Though I did think to frame him but you couldn’t be convinced he was suspicious, almost like you liked him. Did you like him, Leah?” He asked but didn’t wait for a response. “In your apartment, I made myself at home. I became familiar with your kitchen, and had a glass of milk. I even lingered to bask in the smells of what you ate recently. Whatever it was was still in the air. Then I made my way into the living room. I wrapped myself in the fluffy throw, on your couch. I yawned, exhausted. Before I fell asleep and missed the chance to sleep in your bed, I decided went to your room . In your room, I took off my clothes. I placed them all over hoping you’d smell me when you returned. I smiled and padded across the floor, pulled back your covers, and laid down to rest. I laid awake that night, dreaming of you. Your pillows smelled of vanilla. They were off white like flour. Your sheets were chocolate brown. It all made me feel so warm and loved.

In the morning, I left everything the way I'd found it and went to work.

You needed time to recuperate from the break in. So I monitored Ashley’s the next day. By Friday I figured you'd be ready to indulge in something delightful, but was displeased when you never showed up to our date. That’s when I left the present on your doorstep. I meant it to be cheeky, a little flirty. But again, you left. You had no sense of humor, Leah. I was infuriated and stayed away too. But, later, I found myself back at your home and waited. You never came. You needed to get over this and get home. To get your attention, this morning, I started a fire at Cindy’s. I’d never burn it down. It meant too much to us. To reassure you, I snuck into your apartment and left the cookies. I wanted you to know they would always be there for us. Our sweet tooth would always be sated.

But again you never came. Smoke filled your apartment. And I waited on the fire escape, dejected. You were spoiled, Leah. I marched back into your apartment and opened the door. Someone would make the necessary calls, I knew. When they did, I went outside and entered with the other authorities.

While we waited for you, I considered our options. But when you got home, I didn’t expect you to walk in and throw our love against the wall and scream bloody murder. You were disgusting, not my precious cookie. I was done. We left your apartment and I offered to be on watch. I had to deal with you. When everyone was gone I came back to you sleeping, my once beloved sweet now burned. You, the girl who once made me giddy, who I once thought was the one, turned out to be nothing special. You were one in a dozen, not the one in a baker’s dozen. I’m looking for my thirteenth. Not you.” He was exasperated, in a trance. His voice raised. He whispered. He shook. He laughed. He cried. All the while, he never removed his hold on Leah’s neck, or realized she was no longer breathing. When he did, he smelled her. He licked the side of her lifeless face from chin to forehead and placed a final kiss at her hairline. “Bitter,” he walked away and shut the door.

CONTENT WARNINGfiction
3

About the Creator

Jennifer David

I hope my thoughts challenge yours

Connect with me on instagram!

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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  • Stephanie David4 months ago

    This is unsettling, disturbing, scary, breath taking writing!!! It would make an amazing movie. I never would have suspected the twists. Very entertaining. I want to get my daughters security dogs now!!!

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