Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA


Published in Strays.

A restless mind of late has called for sleeping aids, but despite the deep slumber a knock at the door woke me at three. It couldn’t have been my door, I thought. What if it had been? Who could have been knocking at my door? Is it really three? Maybe it was the old lady who calls on my neighbor for the occasional nightcap. That must have been it. It probably wasn’t my door. Then, another knock.

My body wasn’t ready to get out of bed and acted accordingly when slinking through the doorway of my bedroom out into the hallway. I gently measured my steps so as not to make a noise, and squinted as my face edged closer to the peephole. Sure enough, someone was there. As I thought about whether or not I should say anything the words, “What can I do to help you?” came out of my mouth.

“Sorry, wrong door.”

I didn’t say anything else and returned to bed. My heart wasn’t racing, but it wasn’t still either. It took a while to fall back asleep despite never being fully awake. The what-ifs crept in: What if they were testing to see if I was home to break in?; what if they were seeing if I were awake to steal the car?; what if they came back, what did they want? It’s the invisible, the unknown, what’s on the other side of the door that can’t be seen, that is always the most intimidating.