Lonely Nights in an Old House

If you live all by yourself downtown Whitehorse, the last thing you want is somebody knocking at your door in the middle of the night – somebody who is strange, somebody who calls your name and you don`t know what they want from you.

One night in early February I had just returned from a concert at the Dirty Northern Public House. I was in a good mood, putting on my pajamas, boiling water for tea. It was snowing outside and very windy that night. The house I was living in was old; I could feel the wind coming through the cracks in the windows. Since my roommate had left in December, I hadn’t been able to find a decent person to move into the basement bedroom.

The wood in the house always made noises, it crackled or the wind would sing when he blew around the old house. Sometimes there were noises I could not identify; like a rattling, scratching or murmuring. Every night I slept with earplugs, otherwise I would lain awake listening for the noises of the old house. The place was too big for just one person. But nobody wanted to move in. No roommate, no boyfriend; it had been a sad winter so far. But pouring my herbal tea I thought about the musician whom I had just met that night. He had long brown hair, was handsome, had flirted with me and asked for my number. So there was hope to turn this sad winter into something romantic.

I stood in the kitchen, a relict of the ’50s, which I liked a lot — a huge open kitchen which led into the living room. I loved cooking in there, and I got carried away dreaming about the musician and me –  me cooking him a wonderful meal in candlelight with music playing in the background.

Then I heard the knock at the old wooden door. I startled. Another knock. Instinctively I knew it wouldn`t be a friend this late. My heart pounding, I went to the door, asking with a shaky voice: Who is it?

No answer. Silence for a moment. Then I heard my name, the person said my name like he would sing it, with a strange thin voice. Another knock. I went back into the kitchen grabbing a knife from the counter and walked back into the living room.

I heard my name again and shivered. Who was this?

Thoughts were running through my head. I realized how easily one could break into this old house. Where could I flee? Backdoor? It led into the backyard and from there I had to run around the house. I grabbed my phone, ready to call the police. My hand was shaking. I heard my name again.

Another knock. Then, steps moving away through the snow.

I waited, unable to move, feeling racing heart, listening for returning steps. Silence. I looked through the window. But all I could see where the lamplights on the street, and snow – moved by wind. I still felt shaky. I tried to calm down and tell myself that it was just a drunk person who must have mistaken my home for his.

I drank my tea, which was lukewarm by now. I didn`t want to go to sleep. The wind was howling around the house again, and the old wood crackled. How could I sleep now, all by myself? So I stayed up, drinking tea, turning on the TV, looking out through the window every now and then. I pulled out my bear spray from my hiking rucksack. That will do it for now, I thought.

I fell asleep on the couch in the grey light of the morning with the bear spray beside me. I woke up because my phone was ringing.

There was this voice again. The voice from last night, saying my name and suddenly I was wide awake, full of fear. Who`s that? I asked shaky.

The voice said my name again and laughed. It was Brad.

Brad. The boyfriend of my friend Alice, whom I hadn`t seen in a year. His voice sounded different than I remembered.

“I came back from Edmonton yesterday,” he said.

“Did you knock at my door last night?”

“Yeah, why didn´t you answer?”

“I was scared to death, I was about to call the police.”

He said nothing and I felt my fear turning into anger. At least apologize, I thought, but he said:

“I wanted to see you, I broke up with Alice,” revealing the reason why he came to my house late at night.

I stared at the bottle of bear spray; it was red like a fire extinguisher. Brad`s voice faded and I looked out the window, longing for spring. I hoped that the musician from last night would call. But, somehow I had the feeling that I would spend the next four month of winter all by myself. Waking up alone. With a bottle of bear spray lying beside me.

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