By Naomi Franco- Student Writer
The chiming of the cuckoo clock signals the end of another work day. A woman who just finished wiping tables runs to the staff closet in search of her winter coat. Taking off her apron and her feathered hat, she begins to make her way to the front door.
“Okay, Frank I’m heading out! Are you sure you don’t need me to help you with anything else before I leave?” says the woman as she trunks once more before turning the door’s handle.
“Emelia, what have I told you about overworking yourself,” says the storeowner with a sense of playful strength “Just hurry on home before the storm gets worse. I would hate for you to get stuck on the roads with this kind of weather”. The rain had started off as a shameful drizzle early on in the morning. But as the day progressed it had proven to be the beginning of a dangerous downpour.
“Don’t worry I will” laughed Emelia, “and don’t get too antsy I’m sure the Mrs. is on her way over right now. You know she hates beginning away from her feathered masterpiece for too long,” she said as an attempt to console her friend before leaving.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” said the man as he was left alone in the bird cafe waiting for his wife’s return.
As the woman finally reached her apartment building, the storm had grown in strength. The sky now resembled a stormy gray that could have only been rivaled by the eyes of the woman’s lover. Powerful winds and pelting drops of water surrounded the area. The woman rushed inside in order to get away from the winds chasing after her every step. As she closed the complex door, the howling of the winds could still be heard crying out to her. After making her way up the stairs she finally reached her desired floors. While the low rent may be great, living on the top floor with a lack of an elevator was going to become a nuisance for the woman. Taking a moment to catch her breath at the top of the stairs, she noticed the opening of the door behind her. Out came her neighbor covered in an aroma of freshly made mole and masa.
“Emelia! Oh thank god I was about to go knock on your door.”
“Oh my, hi Mari,” she said startled, “sorry you just startled me. What’d you need?”
“I’m prepping some food and I was hoping to see if I could have my knife set back. I need it to cut the meat properly”
“Oh I’m sorry of course, I swore I told Johnny to drop it off before I left this morning. Just give me a second to drop off my things and I’ll be right back”
“No worries, and thank you just call me when you come back, I have my headphones in while cooking so I don’t hear the doorbell” laughed Mari as she went back inside her apartment. Emelia turned to continue down the hallway towards her door. After unlocking the door she grabbed onto the doorframe to shut the door. Not bothering to lock the door, knowing that she would be going back outside after finding the borrowed knife set.
“Johnny, I’m home!” she said, setting down her coat and bag on the sofa. An unwelcome silence followed after her initial greeting. The woman was used to always coming home last. Working the closing shift she had become accustomed to coming home to her waiting boyfriend. The silence confused her. “Hello?” she yelled once more. Looking around the room for a sign of her husband, she finally noticed a lone mug on the coffee table. Nearing the table she saw the last remnants of what used to be a black coffee. That was odd. Her partner always drank his coffee with an excessive amount of sweetener. He would always complain when visiting the cafe during her shifts, saying that the coffee brewed by the feathered-crazed owner was far too bitter.
Confusion grew in the woman as she made her way into the kitchen, deciding to focus on returning the knife set before worrying about the whereabouts of her husband. In the morning, she had placed the set on the counter. They had been washed and placed back into the container they had received them in. Looking at the counter the woman saw nothing but a barren top. Annoyance began to melt into the confusion. “Johnny! I swear, what did you do to the knife set?” she exclaimed as she began rummaging around the kitchen in hopes of finding the missing set. Wanting to avoid a bad first impression, she had made it clear to her partner the significance of bringing back the knife set. Coming to terms with the missing knife set she turned to look at the front door in desperation, hoping to come up with a believable lie for the lack of the knife set she was about to present to her new neighbor. Upon clearer inspection of the door, she finally noticed a stain on the inside lock. A deep red stain was beginning to make its way down onto the floor mat. Fear struck the woman like the crying winds raging against the windows.
Shakenly the woman began to make her way to her room. Slowly she stepped on the wooden planks, hoping to avoid making any more noise that may give away her presence. All previous thoughts left her mind as she began to sit with her fear. Her only desire had become survival. Finally reaching her room, the woman slowly opened the door and was met with the face of death. Scattered clothes, torn pillows, and blooded sheets littered the room. The most shocking of all was the limp body hanging off of her bed. The face and body of the victim were undetectable under all of the cuts and welts. The overwhelming stench of blood that reached the nostrils of the woman, prompted a rushed exit out of the room. Her path to the front door was blurred by the current of tears that were streaming down her face. The decrease in vision failed to warn the woman of the new body occupying her home. The stranger stood paralyzed watching the woman leave the bedroom. Realization caught up with the stranger and they understood what they must do.
In an instant, the stranger pounced on the woman, keeping her from reaching her escape. The woman roughly landed on the floor of her living room. A heavy body kept her from sitting up and soon the reality of the situation hit the woman like a train. A flash of lightning illuminated the dark room, revealing familiar gray eyes. Shock and betrayal were the last things the woman felt as the familiar eyes delivered a harsh blow to her head. Rendered numb, the woman’s head fell to the floor. Her hair mixed with the feathered coat laying underneath her body.