(Author's Note: This is a short story I wrote for an assignment in my Creative Writing class. I don't think there was a prompt other than write a story. Both this and the poem in my collection are similarly inspired.)
Diiiing-dong. A shudder ran down Sarah's spine the moment the doorbell invaded the quiet. Like a siren screech in the night, the sound reverberated rudely throughout the room as if it had the right to interrupt the peace. She didn't want to get up, not yet. She had only just sat down at the dinner table with her reheated spaghetti. It had been a long day, and she felt the protest of labor deep within her muscles. To get up, after finally settling down, would be traitorous. After all, she'd made a promise to herself to relax tonight.
Sarah leaned forward in her chair, just enough to see through the doorway of the spacious dining room and into the entryway. The thick wooden door did not betray any sign of a visitor, but she could see a shadow outside through the frosted window panes on either side of the door. Maybe they'll go away, she thought, sitting completely immobile as if the lack of movement would hide her from the visitor. Maybe if I sit still enough, they'll leave and then they'll – shit. They see me. The mysterious shadow had braved up and was peeping through the frosted windows beside the door. Sarah imagined that, even though the window was too fuzzy to truly see through, the person on the other side had found a way to peer right at Sarah.
"I'm coming," she shouted, scooting her styrofoam bowl out of the way as she got up from the table. Her body protested every movement as she shuffled towards the door. Her shift at the Greasy Dog had not been kind to her and walking the short distance was like a chore every step of the way.
Diiiiiiiiiiing-Dong! Before the impatient bell could shriek its last syllable, Sarah swung the door open quickly, annoyed by the sound. "What can I— Oh, Silence, I wasn't expecting you," Sarah murmured, a little surprised by the visitor. The woman stood in the doorway, her hands demurely crossed in front of her like a proper lady from a long past era of decency. She was in her mid-twenties, but her skeletal frame aged her beyond that. Hair the color of tar framed her pale face as it fell straight to her shoulders. Sarah had forgotten how disconcerting the woman could be and found that she was truly at a loss for words. For a few seconds, they locked gazes and the cold seemed to seep from Silence's shocking blue eyes.
"Uh," Sarah finally managed, looking away from her visitor's stare. "Would you like to come in? I was about to have dinner, and you're more than welcome to join me." Like an ethereal essence, Silence seemed to glide into the entryway without even a sideways glance at her host. Sarah couldn't help but notice the strange yet familiar attire that the other woman wore. It was a simple black dress that hung upon her bony shoulders, draping over her like an ill-fitting tapestry while white, ruffled lace created the hem and neckline. Of course, Silence always chose strange and outdated clothes, things one would find from the Victorian era, or even during the Civil War. The way she bustled through the house was unlike anything Sarah had ever seen.
"Is spaghetti alright with you?" Silence said nothing. She took a seat at the end of the table, facing into the kitchen where Sarah stood awkwardly. "Are you even hungry?" It was useless. Every time Silence comes, it is the same exchange. Her blue eyes follow, predatorily memorizing every single movement, but saying nothing. The waitress wished she had not opened the door, but at the same time, she felt comfortable with Silence, because unlike the others who frequently came to call, this one wouldn't disturb her. In fact, Silence only stays for a little while. Her visits are never long at all.
Heading into the kitchen, Sarah decided to be as hospitable as possible. I'll offer her some food, and I'll eat mine, and then we'll be on our merry way, she thought, pulling the last bowl from the plastic wrapping. Hopefully, I won't have to see her again for a little while after this. After she finished with the grueling process of reheating the food, she carried the bowl back into the dining area. All she had to do was get through the meal, and hopefully everything would be over.
When she came to the dining table, however, there was no sign of Silence. Instead, sitting on top of the table, with her legs crossed in an Indian fashion, was a small child. Her short, choppy blond hair hung loosely in her face, and her smile showed a gap where her front teeth should be. When their eyes met, laughter erupted from the girl's mouth.
"What on earth? Where did Silence go?"
Like chimes, her laughter sounded musical, and Sarah couldn't help but smile. "Silence had to leave, so I figured I would stop by," the girl chuckled. Her accent was thick with mirth as she played with the strap of her tomboyish overalls.
"And how did you get in?"
"Oh, I came in the way everyone here does." The child snickered, a smile dancing across her face. "Don't you know who I am, Sarah? Don't you recognize me?"
Sarah sat the bowl of reheated food on the table, becoming rather agitated with this newcomer in her house. "No, I'm afraid I don't. Now, if you please, if Silence has left, I would appreciate it if you would to."
"I don't want to," she said, her arms crossed in mock defiance, but the smile still planted upon her lips. "I plan on staying for a little while at least. By the way, since you don't remember me, my name is Giggle."
"Giggle? With a name like that, you and Silence must be related."
"Oh yes," the child grinned. "We live beside each other, in fact. We don't talk often, but when we do, she tells some of the best jokes."
Sarah couldn't help but chuckle. "I find that hard to believe. But if you don't mind, I would really like to enjoy my dinner. If you would follow me to the door, I'd be happy to show you out."
Sarah came to the door, tired of the games. First Silence came, uninvited and unexpected, and now this new girl? She was tired of the guests. She was tired of the people coming in and out, never with warning, and never knowing the extent of their stay. Sometimes people would show up at the Greasy Dog and follow her as if they were attached in some way. The owner was getting fed up with it, and Sarah just couldn't take it anymore. Silence was the more tolerable one. She obviously never spoke and her melancholic quiet was comforting. When Anger came, however, the owner would make Sarah leave because no one could handle Anger. Every now and then, he would come to her house and Sarah was forced to entertain him, or else a plate would be broken or an object would be thrown. Tear was the worst, because no matter how much Sarah tried, she could not comfort the young man. He would show up completely unannounced and had a tendency to stay for days at a time. Of course, Sarah felt terrible turning him away, but it was time for her to learn to turn some of them away- starting with Giggle.
"Look, I know you want to stay, but I need you to leave," the young woman said sternly, holding the door open for the little girl. However, instead of complying, Giggle just erupted into a cacophony of laughter. She laughed so hard that she had to bend over, air becoming more of a luxury than a basic commodity with every gasp.
"I- I'm not going anywhere, silly goose," the girl managed to say between her fits of giggling. "I'm happy right here."
"And how long do you plan on staying?" Sarah asked, her brows furrowed in frustration.
"Until someone else takes over. Silence wasn't in the greatest of moods, so she let me take her place until she got herself sorted out."
"And what if I said I don't want anyone here? What if I said I wanted my alone time? My me time?" Suddenly she felt cold. A draft from the open door perhaps? With a last look at the girl before her, she closed the door. As it clicked, she knew two things: One was that Giggle was here to stay, or at least until someone else wanted a turn. Secondly, Sarah had no say. These people came in and out, in and out, like German invaders with no one to stop them. Anger, Silence, Tears, Giggle, and the countless others were always there, always circulating. At work, at home, and even while she slept, they were there. They were always there.
"Now come on Sarah, I want some food. Fix me some cereal." As Giggle grabbed her hand, Sarah frowned. As they walked past the mirror in the entryway, Sarah was reminded, once again, of how tired she really was. Her eyes were droopy, and her hair a mess. The weariness was written all over her face and she walked ahead, her hand outstretched as if led by someone. In the kitchen, before grabbing the cereal, she grabbed a small orange pill bottle hidden in the silverware drawer. She couldn't forget those, or else Hopeless would make an appearance, and there was no fighting Hopeless.