Safety in numbers. That’s what I thought too. With my girlfriend in the room I felt safer. The walls seemed further away and the noises were less threatening.
The truth is that I heard the noises whether or not she was around. They always started on the corridor with a creaking step of the stairs or a groaning floor board. Noises that every house seems to emit but that sometimes take a different tone.
I felt less watched when she was in the same bed with me. I felt strong when my arm was around her like a protective shield. I thought nothing could happen if we were just together.
Safety in numbers, that’s the best phrase for it. You can safely ignore that most fights with deadly outcomes occur between groups. You can safely see that it is often groups of friends that drive one of their member to dangerous activities or suicide. You can safely ignore that your purse is most likely to be stolen not when you are alone but rather when you are in a group and your attention is focused on your friends.
The breathing made me feel safe. The sound of the air entering and leaving her body was like a soothing and calming balm that made me sink calmly into the darkness.
One breath. One breath can easily cover others.
It were the small things that made me nervous. The times when I woke up in the morning and found my feet free of blanket. The times when I woke up and the jewellery on the bedside table seemed to be in a different position. The times when a creaking floorboard woke me up.
She always slept soundly. She always said she didn’t hear a thing. She said my paranoia was “cute.”
The feeling of safety made me careless. With her around my paranoia decreased. Every night of listening to her breath made me feel calmer and allowed me to sleep easier.
My paranoia faded away. I stopped listening to the creaks. I stopped worrying about every wind. II stopped checking under the bed.
Last Saturday I heard something. I told myself that it was just in my head, that there was no breathing sound and that there were no faint footsteps on the stairs.
Even when I sank into a dream I repeated the mantra that I was safe. The fears are just in your head. The noises are just in your head. The cold sensation is just in your head.
The slamming door woke me up.
She was still next to me. Her eyes were closed.
“Don’t be so loud,” she said.
She rolled over to the other side and pulled my arm over her body like a protective shield.
I didn’t say a word. My body was frozen in place.
The creaking sounds were slow and long. One step of the stairs after the other groaned under a heavy weight.
The front door clicked shut.
All I felt was a sticky and cold liquid on my neck.