Man in the Living Room (working title)

She slowly lifted her head to see she had fallen backwards – the upper half of her body had hit the bed, but her abdomen and legs draped onto the floor. With every ounce of strength Diana could muster clawed her further on to her bed, and under her covers.

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She wasn’t sure what was going on, she knew she had just been sleeping before she was woken up. It was a noise from the other room. She was usually a sound sleeper which meant it had to have been a loud noise to render her awake. Instead of continuing to lay in her bed startled, Diana called her boyfriend while she rolled out of bed and headed toward the bathroom.

“I’m telling you, it sounded like someone was there” she tried explaining to him.

“There’s no one in your house. You would’ve seen them on your way to the bathroom.

“Yea… I guess,” not if they were hiding on the other side of the couch, she finished her thought to herself. “Oh no”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t feel well. It’s almost 4, go back to bed. I’ll talk to you later”

“You sure?”

“Yup. Love you”

“Sweet dreams” Arnold said as they hung up the phone.

Diana was sure that Arnold thought she was going to throw up. The night before she had had several of her friends come over for appetizers and the season finale of a popular show they all enjoyed. One of Diana’s friend’s had stayed after everyone else had gone and the two girls finished their own bottle of wine. But this wasn’t a drinking issue. In all the time she and Arnold had been dating, he had never seen Diana drink a bottle of wine before. She was sure he assumed she couldn’t. There had been many nights when Anne had come over and she and Diana had killed a bottle each without thought. No, Diana’s problem was not the wine. Even as she was sitting on the toilet she felt the blood rushing away from her face. She could see her arms becoming increasing paler by the moment. Diana braced herself and headed toward her bedroom, with every step she continued to lose her senses, almost like a battery being drained the last drop. When she opened her eyes, Diana was surprised to be looking up at her ceiling. She tried to roll over but realized quickly that her legs hadn’t been responsive. She slowly lifted her head to see she had fallen backwards – the upper half of her body had hit the bed, but her abdomen and legs draped onto the floor. With every ounce of strength Diana could muster clawed her further on to her bed, and under her covers. She was chilled to the bone, for someone whose home is never warmer than 68 degrees in the winter is was startling to be this cold. Soon Diana began to sweat from every pore on her body including her thighs, her toes, and her arms. It was only when she began to shake all over that she called her boyfriend back.

“What’s up” he responded half consciously. Diana quickly recapped the short version of what had happened to her, and when Arnold’s response was drenched in sleep, Diana said she was feeling okay, “I just need some sleep. Love you”

“Sweet dreams” Arnold managed to drool out before hanging up the phone.

Diana laid there until she felt herself drift back to sleep. When she awoke the next morning she was groggy, and overslept. She wasn’t sure she felt like going to work, but she didn’t want Anne, like Arnold, to think she couldn’t handle her wine. After a slow start, she began to forget about last night and focus solely on getting ready for a long day at work. She was almost feeling positive and somewhat delusional to think she’d get to work on time when she realized her front door was unlocked. Suddenly the fear of last night was rekindled. Diana remember why she had originally woken up –it wasn’t that she had felt sick, realistically, had she never gotten up she would’ve slept through the fainting and the cold sweats. She had been woken by a sound, one that she would’ve sworn came from the living room. In her haste to make it out the door it was plausible that she unlocked it and forgot after grabbing everything. Diana tried to remember anything from the night before, but it was all a black hole, except for her fainting. That she remembered, along with every uneasy, rickety sound that made her roll over throughout the night. Diana looked at the clock on the wall; she was already cutting it close, and couldn’t stand here all day trying to remember whether or not she locked the door. Instead, she decided that she would check with Anne when she got to work, and not worry about it until then. There was certainly no need to tell her mother or Arnold at this point. Even though she had been running behind schedule, Diana was able to pack her lunch from the lineup of a week’s worth of sandwiches, cheese sticks, apple slices, yogurts, and water bottles just waiting to be had in the fridge and threw them into her washable lunch bag.

After stopping to pick up her morning coffee and a hearty bacon egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel, Diana made it to work two minutes late. Not bad for someone who left their bed 30 minutes ago, Diana thought to herself. She settled in and headed to the main building to check the mail. When she got there Anne was just walking in to her office space looking like she could’ve used an extra hour too. After some small talk about the questionable revel from the finale, she told Anne about the fainting, the noise that woke her, and the unlocked door.

“Well, I don’t think you could have locked the door. You really had to pee and your hands were full,” she added. “Unless you locked it after you went to the bathroom?” Diana vaguely remembered strategically holding her wine glass and cell phone in her right hand, and what could have been a waffle in her left. At this point it was hard for her to decipher what she believed had happened and what truly occurred.

“Mmm, I’m going with no. We were on the phone from the time you left until you got in your car.” Upon further reflection Diana added, “there’s no way my attention span would have lasted that long to think to go back and check the door.”

“I’m sure it’s okay. Just remember to lock your door from now on” Anne said.

“I make no promises, but I’ll try,” and with that she left Anne’s office and headed for the parking lot.

On her walk across the lot Diana readjusted the mail pouch to check her cell phone. Apparently her mother had sent her a text not too long before. Her mother always knew when something happened to Diana, even before she told her mother. Instead of texting her back, Diana called and briefly explained her fainting episode, and mentioned nothing of the unlocked door. Knowing that her mother had been feeling concern for her daughter, and wanting some type of consolation for her mini-trauma, Diana invited her mother over for some Chinese takeout, and a re-watching of their favorite show’s finale. She had just reached her office door as she hung up with her mother. It was only 11 am. Diana still had another six and a half hours to go; her mother wouldn’t be out of work until seven. At least she would have something comforting to fill her home with later instead of any looming fear. The rest of her day went by with little complication, and little appetite. At 12 she grabbed her apple slices from the work fridge, and took them to her desk. By 1:30 she was finishing up the final touches of a project she had been busting her butt to complete while nibbling away at the last apple slice.

Diana had a few other things on her to-do list, but nothing that needed immediate attention. As it was, she had until Friday to complete the project she had just finished double checking, not to mention it was only Wednesday, and the corporate director for whom the project was for was in meetings for the next two days. She checked her cell phone, “1:38” the bright white numbers said. Her next mail run was scheduled to be at 2 o’clock. Diana had been thinking about calling Arnold and telling him about her door. The problem with Diana’s job was that even when she threw herself in to projects, there was nothing so challenging that she couldn’t plan her grocery list or worry about what might have really caused the noise in her living room while working. She checked her phone again, “1:42,”as she was returning it to her desk a new message appeared on the screen. She quickly opened it, “Running out. Can you talk?” She typed back, “Yes. Call me from the car. I’ll take my lunch.”

Diana opened the door to her office and headed toward her supervisor’s desk, “Is it okay if I take my 10 minute break now?”

“Yes. That’s okay,” Maria said.

As Diana headed back to her desk to log off her computer Arnold called. Diana answered without speaking and headed outside to talk to her boyfriend.

“Hey! Sorry about that. I just wanted to get outside first”

“That’s okay. How are you?” Arnold asked

“I’m alright, I guess. How’re you?”

“I’m good. Headed out. How’d you sleep last night?”

“I feel back asleep, but woke up feeling exhausted this morning. It’s probably because I fainted though,” Diana responded. “Sorry I woke you up twice. How’d you sleep?”

“I slept okay. Tell me what happened last night again.”

“I woke up scared because I heard a noise. Then I called you on my way to the bathroom. Then after I peed I started to feel like I was going to faint. I hung up with you, walked back to my room, fainted, and then crawled back in to bed and started shaking and sweating. I decided to call you once I felt freezing. I figured I had to be dying to be cold” she chuckled as she finished her long explanation.

“Hmm. Are you sure you fainted? It sounds like you just fell asleep.”

“I know I fainted. I’ve fainted several times before and each time it felt the same way!”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you Goosey. It just seems strange that’s all. Anyway how were you this morning?” Arnold asked with concern.

“Fine. Until I realized the door was unlocked all night.” Diana said before she could stop herself.

“Oh, come on,” Arnold groaned, “you have to be more careful!”

“Trust me. You have no idea how scared I was this morning after realizing the door was unlocked when I remembered the noise that originally woke me up last night.” Before Arnold could reply, Diana checked the time. “Listen, I have to run back in. I already ate at my desk. If you’re going to be out for a while I’ll take my lunch when I get back from checking the mail. Then you can tell me all about your day!”

“Sounds good. Love you!” Arnold said.

“Love you too babe”

“Talk to you soon. Love you. Bye” Arnold said as the two ended their phone call.

True to her word, Diana checked the mail and took her lunch a little after 2:30. Since she wasn’t hungry and had picked at her apples not too long ago, she headed outside to catch up with Arnold. She was careful not to bring up her fainting or the door again. It frustrated her that he didn’t seem to a) believe that she had fainted and b) couldn’t cop on to fake concern for her. If Arnold had thought he fainted she would have been the first person to believe him no proof needed, and would have been beyond concerned. Then again, having your significant other faint is probably easier when you’re partner is a healthy 25 year-old instead of a not so healthy 35 year-old. Heart disease was known to run in Arnold’s family, and for several years now Arnold himself had been on blood pressure medications.

Once her lunch was over the rest of her day ran pretty smoothly, and before she knew it the clock read 5:35. Maria was supposed to leave at 5, but never left before 6:15 except on Fridays when the whole company shut down at 4 pm. Like most days she was still plugging away when Judith returned from her meetings.

“Diana?” Judith’s voice sang like a question. “What time are you supposed to leave tonight?”

“5:30, why? Did you need something?” Diana responded as she got up and headed toward Judith’s desk.

“I’m not sure. How’s that project I gave you coming?” “It’s good. I finished double checking it today and left it in your mailbox.”

“Ohh! That’s exciting,” Judith said as she silently clapped her hands. “Would you be able to compare these to those before you leave tonight?”

“Of course,” Diana said with a smile. Usually Diana liked to try to leave on time, but the overtime was nice and it meant that she could avoid going home to her empty condo for a little bit longer. If she planned accordingly, she could work until 6:35, run to the chiropractor, and be arriving at her home the same time as her mother. Diana reached for her phone and texted her mother and Arnold similar messages, both explained that she would be working a little later than planned, might stop for an adjustment, but that she would be home around 7. Arnold texted her back a combination of kissy faces and hearts, and her mother texted back, “See you then!”

Diana had impeccable timing skills, not that that ever surprised her any more. She had just closed and locked the door when her mother called to say she was two minutes away. Diana said she would be right down. As she ended the call, she smiled. Diana felt relieved knowing that her mother was around the corner. She quickly ran to her bedroom to throw on some jeans before her mother arrived. Heels she could handle, but she was over her work pants for the day. Thankfully she had left some water in her favorite glass on her nightstand from the night before. She quickly finished the small amount of semi-cool water and headed toward her changing area. Diana had just folded her pants and threw them on top of her shoe rack when she reached over to close her closet door. In her haste, Diana to be ready for her mother she hadn’t realized she had left it opened. She rolled her eyes at herself as she shut the light to her room, grabbed her keys and favorite designer bag. With the way things had been going lately she was starting to feel that if she didn’t slow down she was bound to leave the house without pants on one of these days. Just as Diana reached the bottom of the stairs to the parking lot her mother pulled up in her boat-like car. “Ooo honey, I love that top!” It was then that Diana realized she hadn’t gone in to her closet that morning. She had been short on time, so instead of grabbing a work shirt she grabbed a camisole from her drawer and a fancy sweater she had left on the back of the bathroom door Saturday night. Before she could explain her thoughts to her mother, Diana looked up at her condo windows, as the blood began rushing from her skin and her eyes began fluttering shut she could have sworn she saw her blinds move.

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