disappearance (chills for clarity)
You knock on the door to your new neighbour's apartment; it's only ever been you and the old man down the hall on this floor, so you're a little esctatic to be able to talk to someone new at last.
You hope they're interesting enough, and that you'll both get along swimmingly.
The nameplate of 'Vasquez' brings you back to the initial moment, of you standing in front of their door with a plate full of cookies and a smile on your face.
You're a tad nervous, but you know it'll go smoothly. You're just excited to meet your new neighbours, is all.
Knocking three times on the door, you teeter on the balls of your feet, clutching the plate tightly.
"H— hello?" The door creaks open a tad, and an eye glazed over in fear meets your gaze. You don't know what to make of it, but you assume they're just a little wary.
Especially after everything that's been happening; all those murders would make anybody fearful of a potential stranger.
"Hi," you wave at the person, presenting them with a soft smile. "I'm your new neighbour, and I baked some cookies for you!"
The person doesn't open the door an inch, instead staring at you with a frightened eye. Someone calls something from inside, possibly the person's name, and they jump, hastily unlocking the door and opening it entirely.
The apartment is clean, precise; nothing is out of the ordinary from what you can see, and the person you were talking to is actually a young boy, no older than sixteen.
He hunches over when you thank him, and motions for you to come inside. You do so with small steps, gently taking off your shoes as you survey your surroundings.
"Pl... please follow me," the boy mumbles, tripping over his own words, and you gratefully beam at him when you meet his eyes.
The boy leads you towards their sofa, and you sit down as the teenager darts behind you into the kitchenette. Must be preparing a drink or something. You set the plate of cookies on the coffee table, crossing your legs.
"Hello," a man clears his throat from beside you, he must have just been in the bathroom, since you didn't spot him before. He sits down next to you, outstretching his hand. "It's nice to meet you, my name is Nathaniel."
You nod to his words, shaking his hand and stating your own name. The man only thinly grins, eyes crinkling. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he says, "sorry about my son, though. He has anxiety."
"Ahh," you let out a sympathetic noise, not a stranger to the woes of anxiety. "It must be hard on him, especially with what's been happening recently."
Nathaniel bobs his head, brows furrowing. "It really is the worst, even though it might seem bad, I am glad that he's not seen as a target." The man glances at you, taking in your features. "Only young women have been disappearing lately, haven't they?"
You let out a short-lived laugh, fumbling with the hem of your jumper. "I think I'll be okay. I work from home, you see, and I do most of my shopping online."
He seems to be taking note of what you're saying, lips pursing. "Still," he counters. His son rounds the table and places a glass down beside the cookies. Champagne? It's been a while since you've had some.
"D—" the boy begins, stuttering slightly. "Dinner's being made, you should stay."
You glance from the younger one to the older. "Oh, no," you shake your head, "I can't possibly intrude on your alone time. It wouldn't be polite of me to do so."
The man tries to placate you, a hand still in the air. "It's alright, we don't mind. We can chat over some dinner, yes? I'm sure we would appreciate the extra company."
You don't know what to say, and the man stands up, patting your knee as he strolls into the kitchen area, checking up on whatever was steaming in the oven.
The teenager doesn't sit down, instead fiddling with his thumbs as he stares at anywhere but you. "Hey," you start, patting the space next to you, "no need to be so nervous. It's okay. Deep breaths, alright?"
The boy jerks his head in a forward motion, copying what you said as he sits down next to you. "Okay," he acquiesces, and you note this time that there's no stutter in his voice.
You and the boy chat a little more, sipping on your champagne as the food is cooked behind you. You learn that his name is Leon, and that he needs a tutor for English lessons. You've always been good at that particular subject, so you offer him your services.
He agrees, albeit a tad reluctantly. He must not speak to people often.
The timer for the food dings — at least, that's what you think it is — and then the older is calling for his son to help him set the table. You offer to provide another set of hands for them, but the man turns you down.
You're a guest, after all.
You busy yourself with looking around the apartment, inspecting anything that you deem interesting; it's all fairly normal, with the ordinary father-son pictures here and there, little trinkets atop shelves and books scattered.
It's lively, that much you know. They must have a good relationship, and it's so sweet to see such a kind father dote on his only son.
Your parents were never quite as nice to you as you wanted to believe they were. You're doing better, now, and that's all that matters.
"Dinner's served!" They've moved over the dinner table in the corner, and you trot over there, leaving your empty glass and the cookies on the table. They'll serve as dessert.
Delectable cooked meat is decorated with a garnishing of herbs and potatoes, with a few side dishes as well, such as salad and pasta.
You're not the best when it comes to cooking, but you have a knack for curry and spices, so you don't eat this kind of stuff often.
"Wow, this all looks so delicious!" You gush, and the man chuckles, thanking you for your generosity. You all sit down, you next to the boy, and both males wait for you to eat first.
You do so, and you're amazed at how well the meat is cooked; the man is such a talented cook! You simply can't get enough.
Dinner goes by quietly, with the occasional chatter present; you answer any of their questions with as much honesty as you can, and in return, they allow you to interrogate them as well.
You ask them about their occupations, why they moved here, what was their old town like. Just the generic questions that gift you ordinary answers; the father got a new job here so they had to move, and he works as an accountant. Their old town was decent but hushed.
You make a noise of acknowledgement every time the man speaks, and you've soon finished your portion of the meal in no time at all. You're surprised you were able to eat that much.
Drinking some wine, you allow the cool liquid to slide down your throat, relishing in the taste. Nathaniel gets up to go to the toilet, and disappears from sight.
"Thank you for the meal, it was wonderful. I should," you check the clock in the corner, it's nearly nine pm, "go now."
"Eat some cookies with us," the boy jumps up, snatching the cookies from the other table, and he darts back over to you. "Dessert."
You shake your head fondly and reach out to grab a cookie, munching on it as the boy does the same. You're good at baking, and the chocolate chip cookies are delightful to eat. You're certain you can't have much, however, since you feel so full.
You didn't know what you expected today, but you're glad you got to eat and talk with two wonderful people that are your neighbours.
"Thank you," you repeat, finished with your cookie. "I had a lovely time, we should do this again—"
Something blunt and heavy slams against the back of your head, knocking you out instantly.
The last thing you see is the delirious gleam present on the man's face, a steel bat lodged in his hands.
"Just a mere hour?"
"Why," he begins, a frown etched upon his face, gazing out of the hospital window with a glower, "I wish it was less."
a budding rose
in a garden
her hair is smooth,
but her hoodie
a perfect hue.
and her red hoodie
will always be his present.
The cell is dark, the sole candle melting slowly. They fumble with the pencil, and insert it into the padlock again.
You can support the author by unlocking it.
"You don't believe me..."
A hint of a frown.
"No, I don't."
"They don't care, nobody does, if you're a criminal."
A nun, a widow, and a prostitute; all condemned of crimes that they didn't commit.
“You can’t do anything right.”
You’re right. I understood that from a young age; ever since those words came from my mother, they were all I became accustomed to.
I can’t do anything, I know that.
She would say this everyday, building up a mantra in my head. No matter how much I wished it would leave, that it would go away, it would come back at the worst of times.
Reminding me of my failures, of why I’m a horrible child.
“I wish you were like your brother.”
They cut deep, despite my mother thinking they were only baseless and harmless. She just says whatever is on her mind.
She doesn’t care if they impact me or not. She thinks a smack will suffice in subduing me.
“You’re such a loser.”
They think that just because they aren’t touching me, that their words won’t affect me. They do; I can feel each and every one of their phrases crawling under my skin, slithering its way into my mind.
Words have a power to them, one that most people seem to use without knowing.
Eating is a subjective matter; you either do or you don’t. You either eat for fun, or you eat to survive.
Food is something I am not uncommon with, but do not particularly care for.
My family jeers at me whenever I don’t accept their offerings of burgers, chips and pizza. Of when I don’t eat lentils with them. When I won’t bother with profiteroles as a dessert.
It’s too much. I can’t eat.
I can’t have it.
My family always says stuff to me— hurtful comments, like ‘you don’t eat enough,’ ‘you’re so bony!’ or ‘you’re going to die one day.’
I know it’s all true, but no matter how much I try, I can just never eat.
Like I said, I can’t.
In the early, morning hours of 1am, I creep down the stairs and open the fridge. It’s all harmless. I won’t take much.
Maybe some milk and some frosted flakes. Maybe one of those yogurts.
Again, I’m not going to take much.
It’s during those times — when I’m away from prying eyes and grabby hands — do I feel most comfortable.
In my skin.
The yogurt is tantalising but I know I can’t eat much.
I’m too full.
Everyday, everywhere, something is being romanticised. It revolves around mental illness, to disorders, to personality tropes.
All things that are unhealthy, and should not be seen with rose-tinted shades.
“I really like this character, he’s so hot and he’s a psychopath, too!”
It’s weird, when pondering on the logistics of why people romanticise such outlandish stuff. What are they seeking, that makes them swim to the depths of the sea, rather than bobbing near the shore?
“She would kill for me! True love!”
Media has made it all apparent about the consumption of romanticised ideas and thoughts; in movies, shows, comics, cartoons.
There’s always somewhere an element of something that shouldn’t be.
Why do people feel the need to input it in their daily lives, to broadcast it to viewers who eagerly accept it as it is?
“Depressed people are so cute, always so edgy and sulky.”
Such adjectives shouldn’t be used to comment about things that are the opposite of what they are.
Illnesses aren’t sweet or cute, they can be vile in certain situations and can be ghastly in others. They’re the opposite of: ‘I feel a little sad so I’m depressed’ and more of: ‘I hate myself, I can not do anything right.’
These sensitive topics and subjects are being bared by people who view it on the surface level and plaster an ‘aww’ label on it.
They stuff it all in a box, consider it as something quirky or beautiful, and then ship it off to others who feel the same way.
Why? Why do that? There is no need for sugar-coated words when just the cold truth will do.
Romanticisation, in itself, is something that is arguably harmful.
It forces baseless conjectures on people and considers it a fact. Anxiety? Adorable.
It’s not; just like with any other illness or disorder, it’s terrible and can be severe in some cases.
Shattering those spectacles is the best idea, along with any misguided preconceptions.
The truth is now.