It started at the very beginning of our third week in our brand new apartment. And I mean brand new. We are the first ones to live here, my new husband and I.
It was his fourth day of his second to last semester at the university. On this day in particular, he only had one class, but it was a three hour class, so I was home by myself. It’s not something I’m used to, the whole being alone thing. I come from a family of eight. That’s right; second of six kids. From the moment I was born to like, last year or something, I didn’t know the meaning of alone. And really, I still don’t. He’s gone for maybe eight hours at a time. Gosh, it sounds pathetic that I snap my head at any slight creak the walls make. And since it’s been so windy, the walls creak a lot. Talk about whiplash.
Anyways, it was a Thursday, and the door got a knock. Brad ordered a bunch of text books, so the mail guy would be coming around a lot. Nothing unusual, but I wasn’t wearing pants, so I ran to the back room to slide into my sweats. I opened the door, and no one was there. No books or anything. Just a big rain puddle and a few helpless pebbles.
Wrong apartment, I guess. Back to the computer. I’ve been working on my brother’s graduation announcement. Cold hands and cold feet from sitting at my cute hutch desk against the exterior wall. It’s seriously freezing. My boogers turned to ice cubes last night. Not really. That’s a total fib. It’s like seventy degrees in here. Balmy.
Another knock on the door, but it was Brad. The wind and rain froze him to the bone. I poked my head into the breezeway (more like wind tunnel) and peeked around at the emptiness. Where did that earlier knock come from?
I locked the door after he stumbled in, dragging his fixie bike. Cocoa? Grilled cheese? I offered. He said yes to some strawberries and carrots.
He settled in and told me about his day. We both fell back into our routines, silently, and half an hour or so later, I heard a scratching at the door. More specifically, a scratching at the lock. A scratching with a key at the lock in the door that belonged to an apartment that both residents were currently occupying. Still silent, I looked at him, and he looked at me. We both looked at the door. It’s just maintenance, right? Coming to fix the oven?
Go check it, I pleaded. I’ve seen too many serial killer TV shows about newlywed students living in nice apartment complexes with absolutely no criminal record or negative stuff of any sort who get off-ed just for existing. They probably want out Target gift cards and unopened serving dishes. Take the money. Take the tv. No, no, no, not the Mac. But, the announcement. I’ve spent so many hours. Just leave the hard drive. Okay, you want that too. Fine. Just not Brad.
After too long, Brad crept to the door and twisted the lock. All within seconds, the lock clicked, the scratching stopped. With one hand on the door, he shot his other hand above the door frame where we store his prized ninja sword atop two nails. I’ll chop their heads off, he always since when we talk about imagined intruders and such. Now is his chance to finally prove his ninjaness. He pulled open the door, keeping the sword hidden.
A burley construction worker type stood in the moonlight. His hand still outstretched, he mumbled something about …must have the wrong apartment.
Wrong number, my butt. If the key doesn’t fit the first time, it probably won’t go in smoothly a second time. Seriously. We tried. You know how many times we tried our keys in the “storage” closet? (Fire hazard? Whatever.) At least twelve. Three times with four sets of keys. Too many. Oh, and add a couple dozen more to count the paper clips and bobby pins.
Did our pierced and tattooed construction friend want to help us count too? I’m sure he’s skilled at breaking into things and watching from the building over for husbands to leave for their nine-to-fivers with their unsuspecting wives at home to do the laundry and get fat.
He probably doesn’t know now, but by next week, he should know Brad’s schedule and mine like he knows his stubby, chipped fingernails. Today was just a test run. How well does this couple guard their lives? Is their front door even locked? What about the back? And the windows? She opens the blinds, but he likes them closed. Who cares? She never does her yoga when he’s home, anyways. Show us what you’ve got, lady. Show us what we’ll soon have.
We went to bed that night unconcerned and stayed unconcerned until the next morning when my sweetheart left for school. He walked out the front door, closed it, and turned around to lock the door. But the key wouldn’t go in the door.
Our friendly construction worker had changed the lock.
The better to catch you with, deary.