Moving to a new place was a big thing for me. 3 hours away from home, 3 hours away from the town I loved, the house I grew up in and the ex boyfriend who had been the thing to drive me away. In a way I was looking to escape.
New start, new life, new me, that was what I decided when I moved away.
It was going well within 6 months I was doing really well at my job, I’d even started dating this new guy, Paul, who was everything my ex hadn’t been man enough to be. He was polite and kind and loving but with just the right amount of “I’m a man”. Things were going so well that I didn’t even really realize when things started to go wrong. At the time I’d just assumed the things that were happening were small coincidences, just little problems that happen every now and again, it wasn’t until I looked back on it that I realized that it was all building up to something big. Something that has left me half the woman I once was.
It started off just small things, like I’d be certain that I’d left the book I’d been reading on my bedside table but when I found it it was next to the bath, the picture of me and my mum that I had always had on my fireplace had somehow fallen and smashed, food that I had left in the fridge would be gone when I went to look for it. As I lived alone I knew it couldn’t be anyone else. At first I thought I was just being careless, then as more and more things happened I started thinking that something wasn’t quite right, I was so certain that I had turned the tv off before I went to work and that I’d left my favorite necklace in my jewelery box. I called Paul up one day after work and asked him to come over and help me look around for signs of a break in. He kindly obliged even though he thought I was overreacting.
“Babe, I know you usually have it all together but sometimes people make mistakes, sometimes we just forget things.” he told me to try and placate me. I knew he was right but something just didn’t feel right about the situation.
He stayed with me for nearly a week but as we’d only been dating for a few months I didn’t really want him to get caught up in my potential “craziness” so when nothing happened for a week I told him I was ok and he could go home. He kindly told me if I needed anything to ring him at any time. I honestly hoped that I wouldn’t need to.
The night he left I stayed up watching TV. I was a little anxious but told myself that it was just an overreaction. I was so tired that I drifted off halfway through a film. I woke up at 4 in the morning with a blanket over me that hadn’t been there before. All the other odd things that had happened had been when I’d been out of the house, this freaked me out more than normal. I grabbed my phone of the side and rang Paul straight away. As it was ringing I realized maybe I’d got the blanket myself in my sleep, maybe that was the answer to everything. When Paul answered he sounded worried. I told him what had happened and what I thought it was and apologized for waking him up.
“It’s ok babe, I was awake anyway.”
Feeling slightly better I said goodnight and got myself into bed.
Two days later I was chilling after work just watching TV again. It was dark outside and I had all the curtains drawn. I couldn’t be certain but I thought I heard someone moving around outside. I tried to shrug it off, maybe it was a dog or a cat. It continued intermittently for half an hour, I had talked myself out of being scared until suddenly a loud bang on the window shook me to the core.
Phone in hand ready to ring Paul at a seconds notice I hurried to the front door to make sure it was locked. It was, I also made sure that all the windows were closed. I rang Paul, he was sweet about the situation and came straight over. The knock on the door startled me again but I realized that it was only him, he had gotten there quicker than I’d expected him to. He asked me for a torch and went around outside looking for anyone, he even shouted out a few times but there was nothing.
That night he stayed and held me while I slept.
In the morning I told him that maybe I’d overreacted again, it could have been a bird or something, anything. He was amazingly accepting of the whole situation, nearly every other guy I knew would have been long gone by then. When I came home from work that day I checked outside the window that had been banged, in the flower bed underneath I found my own watch.
That discovery really made me question everything that had been going on. What if this was all a figment of my imagination? I started to feel like I was going slightly crazy. I didn’t know what was really going on and that seemed as likely an explanation as anything else right then seeing as no one else had seen anything strange happen.
One night a few days later I was sat surfing the internet. It randomly cut out just as I was loading a Youtube clip. I waited, tried to reconnect, nothing. I went to look at the router downstairs, the plug was sat on the floor next to the socket. At that moment I knew that it wasn’t me, I had been surfing on the internet I couldn’t have done it. Then I realized, if it wasn’t me it must mean someone had been in the house. Maybe that they still were. I ran for my phone. I called Paul, he didn’t answer. After 3 calls I left him a message saying I was sorry but I’d be dropping by because weird things were happening again. I got in the car and left. I got to his house and found it odd because he wasn’t there. He hadn’t mentioned going out but then we didn’t tell each other everything so I just rang him again. This time he answered. He sounded short of breath and slightly panicked, essentially the way I was feeling. He told me he had gotten my message and was rushing back to meet me.
I asked him if I should call the police, he told me that I could but that they probably wouldn’t find anything that if there really was someone they would be long gone by now and why hadn’t they attacked me when they had the chance? It was strange logic to me but I was just happy to feel safe in his arms to I let it slide. He said he would come back with me the next day to check it out.
That night as he lay snoring softly next to me, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking way too much when an odd thought hit me. The other day when I’d asked him to come over Paul had gotten to me in half the time it usually took which must mean he’d been nearby, he had access to my house, my belongings, even to my keys and spare key, he’d been out somewhere undisclosed when someone had been in my house, he had discouraged me from ringing the police… what if I was lying next to the man who had been doing this all to me? I couldn’t stand that thought but the more I lay there the more it made sense. I crept out of bed and started silently looking through his cupboards and drawers to see if there was anything. There was nothing until I opened up his desk drawer. My necklace, my most prized piece of jewelery sat amongst the random wires and letter.
I reeled backwards. But, but why would he do this? What is he gaining from this? Power, I guessed, it’s all about power. He wasn’t so different from my ex after all. I wondered if I should confront him about it but realized if I was right what would he do if he knew I’d figured him out? I couldn’t stand the thought of being there any longer.
Not thinking straight I left. I drove the long way home, I needed to think but was thinking so much that I could hardly concentrate on the road. How I made it home in one piece I will never know.
The phone call in the morning was one I’d been expecting but still didn’t know how to answer. He asked me why I’d left. I told him that I couldn’t sleep and just needed to get out and think but once I’d left I couldn’t get back in. He didn’t seem convinced but let it slide. He asked if I wanted him to check out the house. I told him no, that I was ok. I didn’t tell him I’d arranged for the locks to be changed that day, or that I now had a deadbolt on the door.
For the next week I essentially cut myself off from society. I called in sick to work and stopped taking calls from Paul. He left me messages saying how worried he was about me. He came over but I ignored the knocks. I finally rang him and told him I’d gone home for a while to sort some things out. I couldn’t leave the house for fear that he might break in some how and do something else. I barely slept for the same reason. By now I couldn’t even call the police, I was sure they would think me crazy as I couldn’t prove anything.
I woke up one night after a fitful sleep. I heard banging on the door. I gripped the kitchen knife that I carried with me at all times, I pressed my back against the wall.
I was sure he was coming. I was certain that he was going to break in. It went quiet after a while. No more sounds that night, but save for a few seconds every now and again, I didn’t sleep that night. When the sun rose so did I. I got out of bed to make myself more coffee. I stopped dead on my way through the living room.
“Why don’t you want me in your life?!”
Letters 3 feet tall scrawled across the wall. I dropped to the floor sobbing. He had been inside the house. I checked the door, there were no signs of entry, I didn’t understand how he’d done it.
I called the police, I told them everything that had happened. I told them about Paul. I told them how scared I was. They took a statement, they looked around and saw no signs of forced entry either, in fact no way into the house at all save for a tiny bathroom window downstairs that I couldn’t remember if I’d locked or not.
They left me, told me they would talk to Paul. I locked the door after them.
That night I stayed awake again. Sat in bed with my back against the wall with my knife in hand; I didn’t even need coffee to keep me awake any more. More banging that night. I couldn’t’ bring myself to check what it was. The banging was louder as if it was closer, it went on for longer too. In the morning there was a new message. Just underneath the old one, the handwriting more untidy, as if it was rushed, as if someone was angry.
“Why won’t you just let me in?!”
My breath caught in my chest. I called the police again. Again they came, took more photos, another statement. They left an officer outside.
Prisoner in my own house but at least now I felt safer. I went about my day more normally than in weeks. When the night came I fell asleep for the first time in days after first triple checking the police car was outside.
I woke up in the morning, fresher than ever. I walked downstairs ready to offer the policeman a coffee when I stumbled across a sight I’ll never forget. This new message was written over the other two, in bigger letters. The paint was still dripping and this time was deep red.
“I got in”
I ran to the police car and faltered, he wasn’t in the car. I called the police and they came immediately, I was too scared to go back into the house and stood shaking on the lawn. Within minutes they had called for backup and soon my house was flooded with policemen. Two guys wheeled out a gurney that was covered in a sheet. I didn’t need to ask to know that it was the policeman.
I was taken to the station where they gave me tea and wrapped me in a blanket. When they tried to take a statement from me I found I couldn’t speak. I was screaming at them with my eyes that it was Paul, that they needed to stop him from doing it again, doing it to me, but they couldn’t understand me. The Dr decided I was in shock and prescribed me some pills. The police decided to keep me in one of the cells overnight due to the death happening on my property. They came in a while later to tell me they couldn’t find Paul, his car was missing and his house was empty. I was glad that I was in the station that night, I felt safer. I slept a fitful sleep broken with nightmares of being captured by an unseen figure, I knew it was Paul.
I woke in the morning to find a Dr in my room. He was explaining something to me, I couldn’t really take it in. There was something about “sleep” and “multiple” and “dangerous”. I suddenly realized I wasn’t in the cell I’d fallen asleep in. This one was brighter, whiter, and I couldn’t move.
Apparently writing all this is supposed to be cathartic, at least that’s what my psychiatrist tells me. I’ve just found it tedious.