Five years passed. I was twenty-one and had a part-time job at a convenience store five days a week while going to the university. I was busy and tired everyday.
Five years ago, I made a bad choice and lost my best friend. My friend and I went to karaoke with food and drinks which were illegal, and were monitored. The owner of the karaoke gave us a choice: either pay the penalty or play tag and avoid paying if we were not caught. However, the rule was that if we were caught, we were to give everything away. And our decision was to risk ourselves and play the game. As a result, I got away without having to pay anything, but my friend was caught. After that incident, I never saw my friend. I tried to delete my memory of her like erasing the words on a piece of paper with an eraser, but it ended with a failure. Instead, I stopped going to karaoke and threw away everything that reminded me of her including photographs, and clothes that we bought together when we went to shopping. I didn’t exactly know why I wanted to erase everything about her, but I just was so desperate at that time.
I am not sure when I started to sense someone’s eye on me, but I knew that someone was watching me from somewhere all the time. I had not seen the stranger until one day when I was counting money at the cash desk at the convenience store late at night. I suddenly had a shiver and felt someone’s eyes from the corner of the store right between the area for comics and drinks. I slowly looked up and gasped.
There was a woman with long black hair hanging down her shoulder and covering her face, half of her thin body hidden behind the rack, staring at me. I wanted to call for help, but I could not let out my voice nor run away. Therefore, all I could do was to glare back at her.
I felt as if a long time passed. Finally I heard a customer come in, and I was able to tear my eyes away from her. I noticed that I was shivering hard, though my hands were sweating. When I looked back at the place where she had been standing, she was already gone.
After that, I started to see the same woman everyday when I left my house to go to school, when I was having lunch with my friends, when I was working at the store, and when I was walking home. I was watched all the time. She stared into my eyes with her dark, black eyes without a blink, and I felt like I was swallowed up into hell. I tried to shout at her, “Stop following me around!” but all that came out was a hoarse voice that didn’t seem to have any meaning. After a few weeks of being watched by her, I was mentally tired and became unable to go outside. I locked the entrance door and windows, closed all the curtains so that the woman would not see me, ignored the newspapers and deliveries, turned off my cell phone and sat leaning against the wall as far away as I could get from the door and windows, hugging my own body with a blanket tightly.
A week passed by, and I still could not go outside. During the week, many people came to my house and yelled what they had to say.
First, my partner at the convenience store came and yelled, “Are you alright in there? When can you come to work?”
And then, later that day, he came to my house again and shouted, “I’m really sorry, but the owner decided to fire you and put someone else in your position. So, it was a pressure working with you and good bye!” And he left.
Another day, my friends at the university came and, again, yelled, “Hey, are you okay? Are you sick or something? Should we come inside to cheer you up?” I did not answer. I kept ignoring them until one day they stopped showing up in front of my house.
The other day, my neighbor came worrying about me. She said, “Are you in some trouble? Maybe you should see a doctor. My friend studied psychiatry before and now a wonderful doctor, so I can introduce you to her if you want.” I did not reply. She gave up and never came back.
When I noticed, the outside of my house was silent. It was clear that everyone had given up getting me out of the house. I peeked out the window for the first time in a week and not even a bird was flying. It seemed as if the whole world had suddenly lost every living thing.
And then, I saw the woman standing still, stalking me from a distance. For some reason, I thought it was time to meet her. I stood up, I felt the blanket, wrapping myself, fell onto the ground, but I did not care. I walked up to the door, unsteadily, reached my shaking hand to the knob and turned it. I didn’t care about wearing shoes. I slowly opened the door, and closed it behind me.
TO BE CONTINUED…