Tag Archives: couple

I Just Want to Live Alone

I want to say this right away: I’m in my office now. I think I’m safe.

I shouldn’t have waited. That was my mistake; that’s the one thing that really is my fault. I shouldn’t have waited; I should have run while I still could; while things were still normal and sane.

I used to like my roommate. He was the artsy type, cheerful, always up for a beer. I don’t know what changed along the way, or when exactly he changed.

I first noticed it when his girlfriend moved in. The first days he was cheerful, then, after their first big fight, Martin began to act servile, submissive even.

She called herself Amaya but I was never sure whether that was her real name. On the letters that arrived for her there were at least three, maybe four different variations of the spelling and some altogether different names. She was somewhere from Asia, that was really everything I knew, and that she liked chocolate.

Either way, around the time Amaya moved in everything changed. It could also have been the job and visa trouble Martin had, or maybe just the winter weather; he became a different person.

Since then I lived in solitude. I paid my share of the apartment, but being in the living room or kitchen or even just to stay for long in the bathroom made me feel uncomfortable, as if I wasn’t quite welcome. They weren’t even in the living room that much – they too just stayed in their room – it was more that the apartment itself, the rooms with the wooden floors, bare white walls and mélange of furniture began to feel threatening.

Around that time my social life died. I can’t really blame my roommates for that, but the constant sense of discomfort, the shallow sleep and the feeling that somehow I was sinking into a black hole; the social part of my self was slowly slipping away. Work and the internet filled the place where once friends had been.

Apart from gray and stiff colleagues the only people that stayed in my life were Martin and Amaya. I thought I could sit it out; wait for the last six months of our contract to finish and then quickly find a new place and become a new and healthy person again. I shouldn’t have waited.

It seemed cute at first – they fought at night and in the morning Martin brought Amaya breakfast to say sorry. That day I left with a smile when I went to work.

When I came home Amaya was again – or still – in their room. Martin cooked and brought her food. At night I heard them shouting.

A week went by before I saw Amaya again. She looked sick and exhausted. Our conversation consisted just of “You okay?” and “Yeah.”

The next days she seemed happier, although the color didn’t really return to her face. I saw both of them occasionally in the living room where they were watching movies on their laptops. That seemed to be their only entertainment, the only thing I saw them doing at all. There was no artsy soul left in Martin; for Amaya I wasn’t even sure if there had ever been one.

My main connection with them was their noise; the way they were seemingly unable to keep any movie or piece of music at a sane volume; not to speak of their constant shouting. Whenever I asked them to be more considerate Martin said “sorry,” turned it down and – after I turned around but before I had even left the room – turned it up again.

They fought a lot. And after every long and loud nightly fight Martin brought Amaya breakfast and dinner for a few days. I hated the sheepish expression he had while carrying the food to their bedroom.

I lost track of my roommates. I forgot when I last saw them; I forgot even when I heard them last or what they were fighting about – although, for the hearing part, the guess “last night” and “something about love” would probably have been the right guesses for most days.

At some point our trash rotation system broke down. I stopped cooking and soon stopped feeling responsible for trash that I was sure wasn’t mine – and they just didn’t care. The kitchen began to smell of old fish, then of rotting fish, then of rotting fish and meat; the smell broke through the closed door, made the living room unbearable and finally invaded our bedrooms. The bathroom with its strong vent and moist air was the only refuge.

They had many fights, Martin loudly and Amaya with a weak voice that at some point always broke into crying. Often he cried too. I didn’t dare to interrupt their fights; twice I brought the trash bags with their nearly liquid contents out myself; then I took the passive-aggressive way of “please bring the trash out” text messages instead.

At some point the fights got shorter, then stopped. When Martin proudly told me that they were engaged I offered a celebration beer – but he refused and went out alone. I sent my congratulations to Amaya by text. She replied late at night with a simple “thx.”

From then on I didn’t see Amaya at all. It might seem strange in retrospect, but at the time I didn’t notice it. I barely ever saw her anyway and our encounters were usually so brief and so meaningless that my mind didn’t bother to remember them.

They only watched movies from then on. Occasionally I thought I heard them speaking between the movie dialogue – but I’m not really sure of that. I gave up and stopped complaining about the noise; I was just happy that the fights had stopped. I slept badly with the movie soundtracks blasting through the wall, but at least, without the fights, I slept.

I really can’t tell whether it’s been two or three months since I last talked to either of them. It’s not that I didn’t try – I definitely did on the few occasions that I saw Martin coming out of the kitchen with two large plates of food in his hands, but he just ignored me, squeezed past me and disappeared in their room.

He began to do weird stuff, as if he was trying to make me get angry or even more uncomfortable. He move furniture to strange places, turned the washing machine or microwave off while I was using it; used my kitchen utensils and even my toothbrush and left thick crusts of smelly brown or red stuff on the brush. No matter how many times I asked him to stop – first politely, then angry, then loudly – he never even responded. Instead he just continued whatever he was doing – usually to cook pieces of fish or large slobs of meat; to burn them a dark black in what used to be my nonstick pan.

The smell began to grow worse. I stopped eating even bread at home; I stopped actually being at home for anything but sleeping. When I signed up for a gym I told my colleagues I wanted to get fit for the summer; the truth is that I just wanted a clean shower.

Every day the same routine: Sleep; buy a croissant on the way to work; shower in the gym; work; eat lunch – sometimes alone, sometimes with colleagues; work; work overtime; eat a sandwich for dinner; sit in the office to video chat with family or waste time online; finally go home and try not to gag while falling asleep.

I was happy when the notice period came. I sent Martin an email and he replied that he would send the email off – his first words to me in months. Three days later I asked how it went; he replied that out message was too late and that we had to pay another month but then “it will end.”

That night I heard Martin leave the house. There were no tears rolling down my cheeks, but inside I cried at the prospect of being in that apartment for another three months. I had a drink to help me fall asleep, then a second and a third and I’m not sure how many after that. I never felt so lonely in my life. Lonely and drunk enough to fantasize about the pretty girl Amaya I met for the first time months ago. Lonely enough to think it a good idea to say “hello” to her.

After all, it’s not like we had any fights or anything. Amaya was quiet, but somewhat nice, most of the time. We just had lost track of each other, right?

The smell should have been a warning. People who live in such smell can’t be good people. My drunk mind told itself that it was okay, that it was probably just Martin’s messiness, dirty plates and they forgot too often to bring the trash out. I laughed at myself when I realized that I too was living in that smell; that I too couldn’t be a good person.

The loud movie dialogue told me Amaya was home. I knocked on the door to their room. No response.

I knocked louder and, when still no response came, finally banged on the door. There was a sound; I took it to mean that I could come in.

The door handle was sticky; the door hard to move.

When I pushed the door open a suffocating smell hit my face; like the burnt and moldy slobs of meat in the kitchen combined with the week-old rotting fish and topped off with old diarrhea.

It was nauseating; sickening; I had to take a step back to keep my dinner in my body. Still I felt the urge to say hello, to at least have some social interaction for the day.

I finally got myself to push the door further open and step inside the room. The thick curtains were drawn; illuminated by just the light of her laptop screen I saw Amaya’s shape on the bed. She was at least three or four times bigger than I remembered her.

“Hey.” I said and stepped inside; my foot hit some sticky mass. I suppressed the urge to run just like the one to vomit. Some fusion of alcohol and loneliness drove me forward; drove me to say “hello” again.

The floor was covered in dirty plates; trash bags; piles of rotting food; and so was the bed on Martin’s side. On Amaya’s side the trash was piled on her body, right on the ripped blanket.

Only at the foot of the bed I realized that the ripped cloth on her stomach wasn’t cloth. Her skin had ballooned and ripped open all through the middle. The rotting food wasn’t on her; it was spilling out of her; through a thick layer of a crusted, brown and red mass.

I left the door open for the police.

While running to the office the image of her bloated body refused to leave my mind. She must have been dead for months. I had seen pictures of bloated corpses, but none like hers.

Then, just when I arrived at the office, my memories clicked into place.

Dead for months. Still he always carried two plates.


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

The Yin of Love, the Yang of Truth

They were a wonderful couple. He loved her and she loved him. They never argued.

Priya and Justin seemed like yin and yang – different to the extreme, but still one heart and one soul. There were weird quirks about them; like that they never had guests. But the strangest thing for Nadine and me was that they never fought. They lived next door to us for more than a year and my wife and we never heard any angry words or banging doors. Since they moved in Nadine and I even had arguments about whether or not we were a good couple – and Priya and Justin were our measure of a good couple; they were the ones we compared ourselves to. No fights; perfect harmony.

Priya was the talkative one; she kept Nadine bound to the fence for hours, talking without break. Nadine didn’t mind the distraction and seemed to enjoy the conversations; I avoided Priya. I liked her, she was nice and fun to spend time with, but her endless streams of words gave me headaches.

That’s why I understood Justin. I never felt like he could be blamed for locking himself in his room all day. She was a team leader in an ad agency and involved in several dance clubs; Justin, as far as we knew him, was involved nowhere. I don’t think I ever saw him have friends over or even go out.

The only thing Justin did was to sit in his tiny upstairs office. Sometimes, when the sun was at the right angle, I saw him hunched in front of his computer, likely coding on a new software project for a client he found online.

I remember the day that Priya and Justin came over with champagne and a cheese platter. Nadine and I had planned a romantic meal – instead we had a celebration and a far too long conversation about what it’s like to be a parent. Justin looked uncomfortable, as if the chairs were too hard for him; Priya sat back with grape juice in her champagne glass and laughed.

“I think Justin and I should leave you two alone,” I said. “Looks like you have a lot of X-chromosome talk to do.”

“Sure, sure.” Said Nadine.

“Oh, no.” Said Priya. “Don’t leave!”

Justin looked at his wife, then at me.

“I think –“ he started.

“Fine.” Priya said. “Let’s get going then.”

And with that they left; Priya with her platter and Justin behind her with empty hands.

On the way out Justin stopped and leaned over to me.

“Thanks.” He said.

The next weeks and months Priya was often at the fence; showing us her belly and discussing with Nadine about details that I never wanted to know about the female physique and the wonder of birth.

“I won’t eat before the birth.” Priya said to Nadine. “The doctor told me that’s a bad idea, but, you know, I don’t want to shit myself while giving birth.”

Nadine laughed, but her head didn’t move.

“Priya is a bit crazy,” Nadine said at night. “Isn’t she?”

“Definitely.” I said. “Sometimes I feel sorry for Justin.”

Nadine punched my arm.

“Hey, they love each other.”

“Sorry.” I said.

“Sometimes you’re an ass.” Nadine said.

Not another argument. I thought.

I stayed quiet.

Nadine rolled to the other side.

Priya was always there; Justin never. Once we even invited them for dinner – and only Priya came.

I saw Justin a few times – when he checked the mail, when he mowed the lawn. But mostly I saw him when the sun was just right, usually around 5pm, sitting behind the closed window in the small office.

These days he seemed to hunch more; as if some weight was on his back.

Scary to have a child. I thought. And then with her.

Once, behind the window, I saw him crying.

“Do you know how they met?” Nadine asked me.

“No.” I said.

She rolled onto my shoulder.

“Priya said they met in a bar and that Justin chatted her up.”

“He doesn’t seem like the bar type to me.” I said.

“Maybe he was different in college?” Nadine asked.

“Maybe.” I said.

The thought stuck with me.

Two days later I saw Justin getting the mail. His pale figure emerged in the doorway and I quickly went out too.

“Hey.” I said.

He flinched.

“Hey.” He said.

“You’re also getting the mail?” I asked.

“I thought I saw you getting yours earlier already?” He said.

“Oh.” I said. “Sometimes I forget that I did it already.”

“Okay.” He said and turned to go back inside.

“Listen,” I said. “If you want someone to talk, you know, someone that’s not your wife – you can come over anytime.”

“Thanks.” He said.

Justin took another step back towards the house.

“Just a second.” I said.

Justin stopped.

“I was just wondering,” I said.”Can I ask you a question?”

“What?” He asked.

“Nadine and I have a bet going,” I said. “How you two met.”

Justin turned towards the door.

“You know, was it in a bar or something like that?” I asked.

He pulled the door open.

“Sorry,” he said.” I’m in a hurry.”

“Was it a bar?” I asked.

He stepped inside.

“Was it?”

“Maybe.” He said.

The door shut.

I didn’t see him outside anymore since then. Priya began to collect the mail at night, when she came home.

Priya asked Nadine whether she could have the baby shower at our place.

“Our house is not that nice.” Priya said. “And I want to impress my friends.”

Nadine agreed – and I wasn’t asked.

I went upstairs when the high-pitched voices arrived in our living room. I heard the “Oh, so cute’s and Thank you, I love it’s and the It’s so big already’s and understood why Justin hadn’t come.

They named her Manpreet. We visited in the hospital with a pack of rompers and a small teddy. Priya and Nadine laughed and rubbed Manpreet’s belly. Justin pulled me aside.

“Can I have your number.” He whispered.

“I’m sure Priya has it.” I said.

“I need it.” He said.” Your mobile.”

I scribbled my mobile number on the back of a business card. Justin quickly stashed it in his pocket and walked back over to the laughing ladies.

Two days later a call woke me up at 2am.

Nadine rolled over to the other side.

“Please, I need a favor.” He said. “Come quick. And don’t tell Nadine.”

“What, where?” I asked.

“The hospital.” He said. “Please, quick.”

Nadine was asleep again, which made it easy not to tell her anything.

Twenty-five minutes later I drove onto the hospital parking lot. I wanted to drive close to the entrance and hurry to Priya’s room.

Instead a dark figure jumped in front of my car.

“Stop!” He screamed.

I stomped on the breaks.

“Are you crazy?” I asked Justin when he opened the door.

“Drive.” He said. “Please, fast!”

He held a bag in his hands and was struggling with his seatbelt. Only then I noticed the baby in his arms.

“The airport.” He said. “You have to go there fast.”

I stopped the car.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.

“Please, drive.” He said. “She took my credit card and I can’t pay a taxi. But my family sent me a ticket. Please, I beg you.”

I slowly let go of the clutch and the car began to roll forward.

“What the hell is happening?” I asked.

“She is crazy.” Justin said.

“And you steal the baby?”

“It’s the last chance.” He said.

“Last chance for what?”

I noticed a figure in a white dress running out of the hospital entrance.

“To get away and save Manpreet.” He said. “Please, drive. Drive!”

The figure was running towards us.

“She forced me.” He said. “She forced me to stay.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“At first she drugged me.” He said. “And then she locked me inside a basement for months.”

I recognized the running figure as Priya.

“Please, please drive.” Justin said. “I won’t have another chance.”

I hesitated. The car still rolled slowly.

“I just couldn’t leave anymore.” Justin said. “It was as if I wasn’t myself and Priya always made me stay inside.”

The baby in his arms moved.

Priya was screaming and still running closer.

“Please.” Justin said.

He pulled his shirt up. There were hundreds of small, black scars on the pale skin.

“She will kill Manpreet.” He said.

My foot sank on the throttle; the car gained speed just as Priya reached the window. She was screaming and her eyes were wide open. She threw her fist towards the window, but she missed; the car was past her.

We pulled out of the parking lot.

“You can’t get away.” Priya screamed behind us.

We drove silently for a few minutes; then I called Nadine to get out of the house. When I ended the call Justin was crying.

“It’s been two years,” he said. “Since she killed our first child.”

He looked at Manpreet.

“She did it to punish me for leaving the house. That’s why she made us switch states.”

“What the hell.” I said.

“After you drop me, call the police.” Justin said. “The body is lying on our couch.”


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

A Mouth Where a Face Should Be

When Siru, my Finnish flat mate, ran into my room my first thought was that she was pulling one of her pranks.

“Mouth.” She screamed. “Just a mouth.”

I didn’t get more than a “What?” out before she pulled me from my chair and towards the door.

I stumbled forwards, but Siru held me back when we got to her room.

“Look.” She whispered.

I glanced around the corner. The lights in her room were on, the curtains drawn back and her laptop was lying on her bed.

“At the window.” She whispered.

There was nothing but darkness; the streetlight on the other side of the road seemed broken.

“Nothing there.” I whispered back.

“You sure?” She asked.

“Yeah.”

I tried to get up. Siru held my arm for another moment; then she let go. I stepped inside her room, walked past the heap of laundry towards her window, and looked outside.

Empty cars, a few lit windows on the other side of the road, in the distance a couple strolling away. I saw nothing that I wouldn’t have expected.

“You don’t see them?” Siru asked.

“Uhh, who?”

“There were two people outside my window.” She said.

I pulled her to the window, and pointed at the couple in the distance.

“Those?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said.

“What about them?”

“They didn’t have faces.” Siru said. “They were standing outside my window and it felt as if they were staring at me – but there were just large mouths where their faces should have been.”

“Very funny.” I said.

I turned back towards the door.

“I wasn’t joking.” Siru said.

I stopped for just a moment, thought about her words, and wondered whether her denial was part of the prank.

“Okay.” I said. “Goodnight.”

Siru didn’t protest. But when I stepped out of the door she carefully closed her curtain and placed pillows against it.

I sat back at my desk to let the internet fry the rest of my brain with cat pictures and articles about outrageous world events.

Later I heard Siru move furniture; I figured she moved her bed away from the window.

Usually she would have played her prank longer. She would have come again, with scary drawings or other stories of more strange events. I was happy that she didn’t.

I went to bed about two hours later; Siru was long quiet.

I don’t know what woke me up. All I remember is that I felt uneasy and my t-shirt was drenched in sweat.

I sat up. For a moment I had the impression that there was movement in the window. I looked over – but there was nothing except the familiar darkness.

My throat felt dry and, after changing my shirt, I decided to get a glass of water. I walked out of my room, past the bathroom, past the open door to Siru’s room – and froze.

The curtains were moving.

She always had her door locked. And she never slept with the window open.

I walked inside and looked at her bed and looked at the heap of coiled blankets.

“Psst!”

I couldn’t make out where the sound came from. Did she climb out?

I walked to the window and looked outside. The street seemed as before, empty, only that now even the last windows were dark.

“Psst!”

The sound was louder than before. I leaned further outside.

“Siru?” I called out the window.

“Hide!” Whispered Siru’s voice from behind me.

I whirled around.

There were two people standing in the doorway. One with a feminine body and a long purple coat and one with a male body and a long black coat.

I screamed when I saw them.

Then I screamed louder when I saw their mouths: No nose; no eyes. There was only a mouth where a face should have been; Two large lips with equally large teeth.

The man was grinning. The woman was licking her lips with a thick tongue.

The man started walking towards me. I walked backwards; grabbed a plastic bottle from Siru’s desk.

The woman followed the man through the door. They both, slowly, walked towards me.

The man’s lips and teeth were opening wide; his whole head became just one gaping hole.

“Go away.” I screamed.

They walked closer.

“I’ll hit you.” I said.

The woman grinned; the man raised his arms; they both took another step.

“Fuck off.” I screamed when my legs hit against Siru’s bed.

The man leapt forward, his teeth wide ajar and moving towards my neck.

I fell backwards on the bed; within a moment he was over me. I kicked at him, but he grabbed my legs and pushed them forcefully down with his hands. His mouth moved towards me and the woman appeared to my right. I saw the glistening moisture reflect at the top of her mouth.

I rammed the plastic bottle in the man’s mouth; he bit straight through it. I screamed, my other hand punched towards his face, but he turned his open mouth straight towards my hand. My hand swung right towards his mouth; only in the last second I managed to pull it away, just when his teeth crunched shut.

I tried to punch his chest with the rest of the bottle. He moved slightly backwards. The woman appeared to my right on the bed; her mouth was wide open and she bent forward, her head closing rapidly in on mine.

A loud, screeching scream pierced the air.

They turned, but they were too slow.

The wardrobe flew open and something hit his head.

He jerked back; but he was too slow when Siru whipped a belt in his direction.

The belt hit straight between the man’s lips; he moaned. The woman jumped backwards.

“Run!” Screamed Siru.

The man fell to the side. I pushed myself off the bed. Siru tried to whip the belt another time but missed.

The woman screamed, jumped forward, her teeth even wider open than before; Siru threw a book at her.

The book startled the woman, but she didn’t fall. The man was scrambling to his feet. Siru ran; I followed her and pulled the door shut behind me.

I heard them pull Siru’s door open while we ran towards the front entrance.

Siru turned the key; I grabbed shoes and an umbrella.

A loud, throaty scream came from behind us; Siru pulled the front door open and ran out. I was right behind her.

I saw him turn around the corner with his large lips pulled back and the heavy teeth exposed. There was blood on his lips.

Then the door fell shut behind me.

We ran out of the front and to the right. I heard the front door open again.

While running I felt as if somebody was following us, but I couldn’t see or hear anything behind us; Siru ran several steps ahead of me without looking back.

We reached the train station, I had the shoes still in my hand.

The police didn’t believe us a word. They lectured us on alcohol abuse – but they offered to accompany us home.

Our apartment looked normal, empty, except for the broken door handle in Siru’s room and the broken vase on her floor. The belt she had used was gone.

That night all the meat from our freezer went missing.

And so did our neighbor’s cat.


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.