I envy the people that do not seem to care what others think of them in any circumstance. The kind of people that have confidence radiating out of them and inspire others, such as myself. I do believe that this would be an easier concept for me if I didn’t hear the thoughts of everyone around me.
Yes, I was cursed with the unfortunate power of hearing other people’s thoughts. Some may find this astonishing and unique and wonderful and all of those things. However, do not be fooled. Remember when you were in class last week panicking over forgotten homework? I heard you screaming at yourself. Or maybe the time your husband was being too loud watching that football game? I heard you wishing you would’ve run away with the man you met in the bahamas. Sometimes it’s amusing but mostly I just don’t think it is my place to hear these things and I feel incredibly guilty. Not to mention, anytime a stranger, or even my friends, judge me, I hear it. Any mean thought, critique, or objection about me, is clear as day. Since I realized I had this power, I started isolating myself. I hated going out in sweats but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in something nice. I had to make sure I smelled nice but not too strong and I had to blend in as much as possible. After a few weeks of going on like that, I was exhausted and decided that it would be best for me to stay home. I quit my job and found another that allowed me to work from home. Eventually, I built a life for myself revolving around only hearing the thoughts of myself.
Last weekend, I was relaxing in my living room eating ice cream straight from the tub when my security alarm beeped at me from across the room. I rolled my eyes and got up to check. My long pajama pants dragged the floor and strands of hair fell out of my messy ponytail. Once I got to the alarm, the screen read “INTRUDER,” but there was no loud screeching that was supposed to occur in the case of a break in. My heart sunk to the floor. I did not want to call the police. I walked to my front door and latched the dead bolt. I slowly walked to my kitchen and grabbed a knife before taking my phone out of my pocket. Shakily, I dialed 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“I think someone is in my house. My security system notified me that someone had
come inside but it made no sound, like the speaker was turned off.”
“Okay ma’am. We will send an officer to your location. Don’t try to investigate. An officer
will be there as soon as possible. Please stay on the line with me until then.”
I stayed on the phone until I saw the blue and white lights flashing outside my window. I was no longer afraid of the intruder that may or may not be there, I was more afraid of having to interact with someone for the first time in months. The officer walked up to my front door and shined a light through the window. I slowly unlatched the locks and opened the door.
“Evening Ma’am,” the officer said to me, “I can search the premises real quick and then I’ll check your alarm. Sound good?”
“Yes sir. Thank you”
“No problem.” She sounds fragile.
“Excuse me?” I said politely.
“I said no problem.” The officer said with a smile. And then I realized what was happening. I hadn’t been around people in so long, I forgot what the thoughts of strangers sounded like. I could feel the heat in my cheeks and knew my face was turning red. I started scratching at my arms like I do when I’m nervous. I backed out of the doorway and allowed the officer inside.
“You have a beautiful home.” What a mess.
My heart sunk and I started casually picking up the blankets and slippers scattered around the floor.
“Thank you.” I muttered. Once the officer made it to the next room in his search I frantically started cleaning. I grabbed the tub of ice cream and fumbled with the lid to get it closed before rushing into the kitchen to put it away. My fluffy socks slid along the tile floors and before I could manage to grab a hold of something for stability, I crashed to the floor. The half melted ice cream poured out around me as I felt blood dripping down my face.
“Ma’am! What’s going on?” The officer yells from the room beside me and rushes into the kitchen. His slick black shoes shuffled in the mess of the ice cream. He knelt down beside me and asked, “What happened?” I’m the worst rookie of the year.
“My name is Ivory,” I said to him, “Please stop calling me ma’am. I’m okay. I promise. I’m just clumsy. Is the house secure?”
“Yes, ma’am.. Ivory. Yea. No one is here. I’m so sorry.” There’s a beautiful girl sitting next to me with a cut on her head and all I can say is ‘No one is here’? Ugh, how stupid!
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Rogers.” I said as my eyes scanned his uniform and found his name tag. It was nice to hear a compliment. I breathed a sigh of relief. Officer Rogers stood up with melted ice cream dripping from his knees. He didn’t seem to care. I kept hearing him mumble sounds of frustration but he never let it show on his face. He grabbed some paper towels from the counter and ran them under water from the sink above me. He knelt back down to my level and held the towel to the cut on my head.
“Thank you for being so considerate, but really, I’m okay.”
“It’s Alex. My name, I mean. No one calls me Rogers except for the arrogant assholes that I work for.” I shouldn’t have said that. I’m too comfortable here.
I laughed nervously and said, “You should probably leave. I need to get this mess cleaned up and I’m sure you have better things to do than sit in melted ice cream.”
“I wish I did have somewhere to be.. I tend to be pretty free. Fortunately, this town doesn’t have many criminals, but that makes my job boring.” Help her up, stupid.
Alex grabbed my hand and pulled me up off the sticky floor. I smiled, “Thank you, I really do appreciate your help. I hope your job gets more exciting. And by that I mean you go on a high speed chase, not chase a killer.” He laughed and shook his head, “I’ll get going. I’ll put my number on the notepad over here,” he pointed to the table, “and If anything at all happens again with the alarm or you have any minor issues, just give me a call.” Don’t be weird. Just smile and nod.
I grinned and stared down at my fluffy socks before looking back up at him. I felt my rosy cheeks start to heat up and I immediately remembered why I hadn’t physically talked to any other human being in months. My anxiety prompted knots to form in my stomach. “You should leave,” I motioned toward the ice cream covered floor, “I really have a mess to clean.”
“Right.” he said with a smile. I walked him outside and he waved goodbye as he pulled out of my driveway in his shiny black police car. My anxiety finally started to diminish and I walked inside my house to collapse on the couch. I screamed into a throw pillow thinking about how awkward I must have been. I collected myself and cleaned the melted ice cream that was starting to dry to my kitchen floor.
After hours of scrubbing, it was 2am. My pajamas and my arms were sticky to the touch. I hopped in the shower, forcing myself to use cold water so I wouldn’t fall asleep. Just before turning the water off, the sound of glass shattering echoed outside of the bathroom. “Great.” I said to myself. I got dressed and headed to the kitchen, expecting to see a broken mug.
Cold air met me at the entrance to my kitchen. Gusts of wind were now blowing through the freshly shattered window in front of me. I started to shiver and goosebumps spread over my skin. I glanced over at the note lying on the counter that contained the number of the officer. My wet hair felt like it was going to freeze off my scalp. I crept over to the counter and grabbed the note. I clutched it in my hand and ran into my room, locking the door behind me. My shaky hands managed to grab my phone from my bed and dial the number from the note. Before I could press the call button, I heard a voice. I know she’s here. The panic set in and I didn’t know if I should cry or jump out the window. I couldn’t move. It was like I stared at Medusa herself. I was barely breathing, staying as quiet as possible.
Come out, come out, wherever you are. The thoughts were getting louder and a single tear rolled down my cheek. I managed to silence my phone and hit the call button. I slowly moved the phone to my ear. Alex’s calming voice spoke through the phone, “Hello?” I still couldn’t bring myself to whisper. “Ivory?” he said when he realized no one was responding. My heart stopped when he said my name and I was able to mutter, “Yes..Please help.”
“I’m coming, Ivory. It’s going to be-.” Before he could respond, a dial tone rang through my ear. Shit. No. Not now. I looked down at my phone and it read “Call Failed. Inadequate Cellular Service.” My breathing was picking up and I no longer had a plan to escape. I was a sitting duck.
“Ivory.. I’ve been watching you.. I know you’re home..” The intruder sang. I saw the shadow of two feet under the bottom of my bedroom door. The doorknob shook and the man realized it was locked. He started huffing in frustration. You can’t hide from me. It got quiet again until metal started clicking around inside of the lock. I slid further into the corner of my room as adrenaline pumped through my body.
Red, white, and blue lights circled through my room and sirens roared. What! No! The intruder gave the lock one last try before I heard the sound of his heavy footsteps running toward the back of the house.
I heard a door swing open and Alex’s voice say, “Taylor County Police! Don’t make this harder on yourself. Come out with your hands up!” There were more police pulling into my drive, I was still too scared to scream or move. My door burst open and a bright flashlight was shone into my face. “Ivory?” Alex yelled. I looked up with a tear soaked face and he knelt down to my level. He took me in his arms and said, “You’re okay. You’re safe. You’re okay.” I stopped crying and took several deep breaths before whispering, “Thank you.”
Once I was stable, Alex helped me up from the floor for the second time that day and we walked outside to check with the other officers. “Ma’am, do you know of anyone that would be trying to hurt you?” an officer asked. “No sir, not that I can think of.” I replied. “Well you may want to see this. We found it on your back door.” The officer handed me a note that read, “I’ll be back soon.” I looked up at Alex with fear in my eyes and from a distance I heard laughing. “Do you hear that?” I asked. “Hear what?” Alex responded. The laughing ceased. “Nevermind..”
The police finished searching the premises and made sure everything was clear and I was safe before leaving. Alex stayed behind for several hours, waiting outside, to keep watch. Just before sunrise, he left and I thanked him for all that he had done.
I hadn’t slept all night and assumed that it would be easier and safer to sleep now that it wasn’t dark. I crawled into bed and shut my curtains, avoiding the sunrise. Out of exhaustion I didn’t get back up to shut and lock my bedroom door.
After laying down for several minutes, I heard my back door creak open. My eyes shot open. I’m back, Ivory.