The book sat on my desk for almost 2 weeks, taunting me. A near constant reminder of what had happened, a corner of my apartment dedicated solely to shame and loss. Something inside me wouldn’t allow me to just get rid of it. He told me it had sentimental value, as though I should be concerned about what he values. I had convinced myself that if I tossed it, it would just be one more thing tying him to me, one more reason for him to keep contacting me. I wanted to sever every artery that joined us.
My best friend lives across the hall from me, and when I told her what happened she offered to deliver the book back to him. I detected a hint of menace in her voice, which pleased me so I agreed. She and I tried and failed to coordinate the drop off, which was harder than it should have been considering our proximity. He texted me every day to make sure I hadn’t forgotten, and every time my phone made that infernal beeping noise my heart sank to my feet. Was it him? Why wouldn’t he fucking disappear? Couldn’t he just implode into nothing like the house at the end of Poltergeist?(spoiler alert)
I decided one morning, full of optimism and Ativan, that I would deliver the book myself. My plan, if you could call it that, was to take the bus to his neighbourhood and drop it off after he had already left for work. I didn’t bother to find out when that would be, I convinced myself he would need to be at the office by 9, so 8 should suffice as my target time.
I scurried past his house accidentally at first and had to double back around. I finally caved and sent a message asking when he normally left for work. My heart was racing, even under layers of different medications that were designed to do the exact opposite. He said 8:45. It was 8:05. I got the response when I was almost there, and stopped cold with fear. I don’t know why it was okay when I wasn’t sure if he was home, but now that I knew he was there it was suddenly impossible. I hid in the shade like a creep and pondered. I had this vision of him filling a coffee pot and seeing me trying to silently glide down the path in his yard. Of reaching out to place the bag on his door as requested, and him opening it and me being completely frozen. He would say words and I wouldn’t hear them. That was as far as the nightmare went, I couldn’t fathom anything beyond that point.
I had to think fast. Do I just turn around and go home? Sit in a coffee shop and waste time anxiously shaking in my chair? I checked the time again — 8:07. Shit. This wasn’t going to work, I was too terrified. Everything was too fresh. I could practically still hear him growling obscenities in my ear. I got headaches because I could still feel his hands getting tangled in my hair. The musty smell of his dirty apartment seemed like it wouldn’t wash off of my skin. I was sweating profusely and my breathing was erratic. I bolted for the nearest bus stop and went straight to work with my tail between my legs. When I arrived my coworkers told me I looked like I had seen a ghost. I felt like I had narrowly escaped a monster.
The book made its way later that day via Purolator.