The sound annoys. Irritates me. I can’t stand it. I shout for it to stop. I beg the air, I scream, and it does not stop. Clanking, crushing. Cracking. So much noise. It makes me want to take my skin and yank it down over my ears. Fill my drums with liquid until they pop.
I can’t stand it—I just can’t. The cabinet slamming covers the sound well enough. Back and forth under my forceful hands. Back and forth. Enough force to break something. The last push hurts too much, so I slam my hand on the side of the wood, letting the wet handprint slide down on the mahogany.
“Will you please shut up?”
Something moves out of the corner of my eye. I’m sure this time. I wasn’t last time. The hat, the jacket, the scarf, the shadow form. I am sure he’s there. I am certain, in my heart, he is around to watch my exploits.
I think he likes the sound. I don’t. Drilling into me. As I descend the step stool, I bite down on my hand, my flesh. That same flesh turns white and indented beneath molars.
Twisting fast awards the edge of his presence before yet again he skirts out of frame. I spin in a quick circle, making him have nowhere to go. But I can’t see him. He is around. He does not go. But I still cannot see him. My temples hurt. Nothing but pressure and I clutch them as so many pictures fly around in my head—pushing my kitchen out of my visual input. Pushing it all away. Shaking. Muscles breaking into spasms and pain.
The drawer flies open and there is nothing in there. No silverware. No knives. Even the big one used for something. I slam the drawer shut, and the old noise irritates me again.
“Stop it! Stop it!”
Like its listening, the sound slows. Fades to a dull thing in the back of my head, my attention. And outside, past the thin curtain, is the setting October sun. The dipping sphere. It’s too quick. Only an hour later and the darkness makes the kitchen nothing but shadows and harsh edges.
I’m not sure when I last moved—no idea. I blink and all is blurry. The counter is solid, and my hand rests there. And right out the side of the door, is him standing. Peeking his head out from the corner with this calm expression.
I look behind me and nothing is there. He only has an interest in me. Only a curiosity in me. So, I look back at him.
Something in the back of my throat tickles. My stomach tightens. I close my eyes for an elongated blink, and he is still there, he is still staring—peering, quizzical.
“What is it?”
The face is a stretched smile and bloodshot eyes. A perfectly circular head with flesh in the right places but the wrong orientation. He places a gloved hand on the side of the door and pushes himself out of sight. Gone again.
If he’s even real. I don’t know. My face is wrong. I think I bit my lip. I can’t quite tell. My eyes adjust to the dark. It covers me like a warm cloth, but it goes cold as my insides shiver. I shake my head and peer outside, and no cars come by the house, and the moon no longer exists.
My hand goes for the cabinets and I pull all of them open, one at a time. Expecting something to happen. Something to be behind one of these doors. A broom falls to the ground, and it lays there like something limp. I drag it away. To the cupboard.
No. No. No. My hand goes to my hair and parts it. Raises it up into bunches beneath my fingers. I want to tug it all out, but I do not. That would hurt. I don’t want to hurt. Never. Not anymore.
He grabs my hand when I place them on a doorknob and shakes his head back and forth.
I push him away, and he drops right into my sight, at eye level. Twisted mouth. Creeping hands. A coat not hiding a body, but more layers. He grabs my collar and tries to haul me up into the air.
“No, no, let me see.”
I hang in the air until he lets me back down to the ground. No ceremony, he just drops me and shakes his head like he’s disappointed. I shove him away and he collapses. He’s fabric. But guts and gore coat my hand. Arm. Too much. It’s covering me around my sleeves, up to my elbows.
On my shirt. On my shirt. Dirty. All this blood. None of it is mine. It tastes wrong as it dribbles down my hair. The room opens, and the cabinet is a door, and the cracking noise is so loud. So irritating. I can’t stand it. But I step down to the bare material. The harsh and brutal concrete of my garage, never given a cover or carpet. And there it sits.
I’m even colder. The warm water swishes inside the circle. The perfect circle. I lean down and peer at the perfect circle. The soap and water mix well with the red, and the body fits when it’s bent like this. Flowing with the shirts and pants. Tumbling around, taken in half, and made to fit.
Her hair, wet, falls when I stop the machine. The excess liquid, not drained, spills around my feet as I crawl inside. Hugging my mother, one more time.
The man leans down to look at me as I try to get all the warmth from the remaining water still sticking to her once white dress. I am small inside the washer, and he closes the door. And I let out a smiling breath as the water fills and we spin until I am dark inside like I always knew I was.