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by Brent Benton 2 months ago in Short Story
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Chapter 1- The Arrival

Her arrival would be welcomed but not at all expected. He had gone through the rigmarole of preparing for her. He made his bed. He drank more water. He got his diet right. Most of all he made peace with the fact that one day she would arrive. She was what he always wanted after all. However, when she arrived he was still unprepared.

The closer she drew the more anxious he would become. Television and music were merely the background noise to his anxiety. Books no longer grabbed his interest, and if it did it didnt hold it long enough to distract him from thinking about the day she would arrive on his doorstep and he would be there, disheveled, and barely hanging onto life, ready to fall into her arms and release every burden. But the longer he waited the more anxious he became. His anxiety was not a result of wondering if she was the right one, or if it would feel right or even if their meeting was simply meant to be. His anxiety was due to a constant obsession on whether she would arrive at all.

You see she was a finicky thing. Her arrival required very specific conditions. Everything had to be perfect. She needed to feel welcome in order to do her job because once she was finally here, she would be in charge. She would control his life. Everything he did and said and even thought about would go through her. If he was even slightly unprepared, she might just flitter by never to be seen again.

Too many times he imagined that she would arrive and be absolutely appalled by the surroundings. He imagined her eyes darting around, landing on the slightest imperfections of either his face or his apartment, all the while her lips pursed, and eyebrows curled upwards with disdain. He recently hung up a painting on a bare wall directly facing the front door. It was the most immaculate piece he had ever owned or seen in-fact. It was large and demanding. When you walked through the door you had no choice but to look at it. He often caught the takeout delivery man peering at it while handing over his food. The vibrant colours leaped out from the soft and subtle beiges and greys that adorned the rest of the apartment. Orange and red paint of varying intensities slashed across the canvas creating streaks which were reminiscent of a murder scene. No particular method or direction about it. Just straight carnage and he loved it. As much as he kept the rest of his living space sleek and curated, this one piece reminded him of life’s never-ending uncertainty. One could be as controlling as possible of what happens to and around them, but life will still take the direction it chooses. But would she like it? Would she have the same appreciation for this piece as him? Would she see it as the statement piece he saw it as or would she just think it a gruesome, grotesque interruption to the idyllic flow of aesthetic he had created throughout the apartment? Many times, he wanted to rip it off the wall and toss it straight through the front door, right into the building hallway, without a care in the world. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t bring himself to even lay a finger on it. He had resigned himself about the painting in the same way he had about her arrival. Alternating between the obsession about the day she came knocking and whether or not she would like the painting. So, he continued to prep and polish everything else hoping she would merely see the painting as a quirk of sorts. As long as everything else was perfect.

It was a Friday evening when the doorbell rang. He was making the bed, mind half on fleeting images of a perfect life and half on the task at hand. The sound of the doorbell jolted him back into reality. He was not in the mood for visitors right now. He had so much to do and so little time. He had gotten home from work just an hour ago and the apartment was still a mess from the mornings rush to get out the door. He knew everything needed to be in its place on the off chance she would arrive today. As he walked towards the bedroom door, he tossed a throw pillow onto the bed and frowned. The pillow landed askew and did not look at all perfect. He told himself he would come back to fix it after he got rid of whoever was at the door. As he drew close to the front door a thought hit him. Quite a bit of time had passed since the doorbell rang. Not hours but still long enough for whoever rang to think to ring again perhaps, to grab his attention. He stopped in his tracks and his throat began to tighten. He knew that when she arrived, she would not insist on entering. If she was not greeted in a timeous manner with open arms, then she would simply move on. Beads of sweat began to form on his brow and he suddenly realized his asthma pump was still in the car. He had forgotten it there when he arrived home from work. If it was really her that rang the doorbell then would she still be there and even if she was, he was nowhere near prepared for her. Images of the cluttered kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, a dusty hallway, an untidy closet, a mirror full of water marks and an askew throw cushion on his bed, all flashed in his mind’s eye. He shook the images aside and grabbed a hold of the doorknob. He couldn’t keep her waiting. It would be rude. Better she sees the real him and decide to leave than he misses his opportunity with her all together. He twisted the doorknob. The cool bronze against his now sweaty palms alerted him to the realization of the gravity of what might lie in the other side of the door. He pulled the door open slowly, the hinges creaking as they swung back. What stood before him baffled him. He couldn’t hide the shock. A guttural gasp escaped his mouth, and he immediately smacked his hand against his lips in a vain attempt to conceal it.

What he saw couldn’t be possible.

He instinctually stepped back as the figure in the doorway stepped foot forward into the apartment. The shock had rendered him incapable of defending himself. The figure continued forward steadily pushing him further into the apartment. The front door flung closed, and he now found himself flush against the painting in the foyer. “Sit” the figured said. His eyes widened at the sound of the figures voice. What he was hearing could not be possible. He slid down against the painting until his bum hit the floor and his knees were on his chest in an almost fetal position. The figure followed suite and sat down too with its legs crossed. It leaned forward with an elbow on each knee and hands clasped together the way a surgeon would while in an operating room but not actively operating, so as to not accidentally touch an unsterilized surface.

“You seem shocked, that’s not good.” the figure groaned, seemingly irritated by what it was witnessing

He dared speak. He feared if he even opened his mouth he might scream, which would be helpful as it might summon some help, but he had a gnawing feeling that he wasn’t supposed to. Dare he take his attention off of the figure, he might lose the upper hand in an attack. He didn’t have an upper hand at the moment, but he was thought about thinking about one, he just needed to get over the shock of what he was looking at.

The figure turned its attention away from him toward the painting above his head.

“The paintings good, thought I wouldn’t like it much but it’s actually quite amazing now that I’m seeing it live you know?” it said, a tone of empathy peaking through.

The figure lowered his gaze landing on him once more. The figure shifted uneasily in its spot on the floor. His reaction to the figure’s arrival was not what the figure expected. The figure expected to be wholly welcomed and ushered into this home without doubt, but something felt off. The figure let out a sigh as it came to a realization that perhaps just maybe what sat before it was not all that ready for it. The figure knew if it left now that it might never return. There was a reason the figure arrived at this specific time on this specific day and that the conditions were just right.

The figure began to slowly rise from its spot on the soft plush carpet upon which they both sat. He watched the figure rise and was baffled by its elegance. What he saw was impossible. He needed answers. He inhaled deeply as he mustered up the strength to speak.

“What are you?” he asked. His voice quivering on every other syllable. The figure didn’t respond, instead the figure just stared at him intensely, studying each and every line on his face. The way there were no crow lines near the corners of his eyes. The way his dark brown beard had slight ginger and blonde hairs sprinkled throughout. The slight deviation in the direction his left eyebrow grew, probably from that time he shaved his eyebrows off with his mom’s epilator when he was 11.

“Tell me.” he whispered.

“You know what I am.” the figure replied.

“I absolutely do not, just tell me please!” he begged. His voice morphing into a frightened and desperate bellow.

The figure sensed the fear in his voice and instantly knew it was time to leave. If he was ready for the figure’s arrival, then he wouldn’t be afraid. The figure was baffled. It thought he was ready. Why wasn’t he?

The figure turned to towards the door. It needed to leave because this wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go.

“Don’t go!” he shouted, “If you’re not going to tell me what you are then tell me what you want from me.”

“I don’t want anything from you. You invited me here and I came.” the figure replied, the calm inflection in its voice slightly alleviating the tension in the air.

“I didn’t do anything of the sort.” he snapped back. The figure drew back its head in shock. He was feisty, bit out of character though but then yet again he was in shock. The tension between the two now palpable once again.

“You really don’t know what’s happening here?” the figure asked. He shook his head earnestly from side to side in response.

The figure lifted both its index fingers to its temples and massaged them. Time seemed to slow down. It was as though he could hear the blood running through his veins as he waited for the figure to say something.

The figure lowered its hands. It stuck one hand in its leather jacket pocket and the other hand grasped the front doorknob firmly. It paused for a moment before it turned to him.

With its head cocked to one side, gaze fixed firmly on him, “I am you.” It spoke.

Short Story

About the author

Brent Benton

Delusional Pisces writing about whatever he is currently obsessing or fantasizing about.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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