September 26, 2020

Two writers, one line: “The door knocked three times, and then there was silence”

posted on: Thursday April 24, 2014

by Melanie Souchet ’14
Senior Portfolio Staff

The door knocked three times, and then there was silence. He didn’t bother getting up to answer. And why should he? He knew how this was going to go. It was the same thing every time. People called once or twice, then they stopped. Maybe they stopped by once afterward, in person, but never more than that.

Okay, if he was honest (and he’d been brutally honest with himself lately), he’d admit that things were slightly different this time around. Someone had been knocking on his door every day. Sometimes twice. They always ended up leaving, but they were back the next day, at about the same time, knocking again.

It was his brother, he suspected. His brother was the only one who called consistently. At first on a weekly basis, then daily. Then the daily in-person knocking started. Even with this suspicion, he didn’t bother getting up to answer the door. He stayed in his bed, wrapped up in the blankets, too tired to get up. It wasn’t just a physical exhaustion. Hell, physically speaking, he probably should have been fine. He’d gotten enough rest to put him through a few days without having to recharge, at least. It was an emotional exhaustion, a sense of emptiness that ran so deep that it turned into a physical exhaustion. There was no point in getting up to answer the door, or do much else that wasn’t necessary for keeping himself alive. He was physically incapable of doing so.

That was probably a bad sign, but he was past the point of caring.

He wasn’t sure if this was better or worse than things had been before, when he did care. Back when he cared, at least he could say he was feeling something. Even if what he was feeling was horrible, nothing but an unending spiral of hating himself, other people, and literally everything in existence, it was something. How did that one song go? Something about pain being better than nothing? He didn’t know. He’d always hated songs like that, anyway. They never struck him as being sincere. They whined and complained about being numb, but they never seemed to know what it was really like. Or at least, if they did, they were terrible at describing it.

In fairness to those musicians, it was a bit hard to describe nothing. He’d tried, a few times, when he’d explained to other members of his family why he wasn’t returning any calls. “See, it’s not like I’m ignoring you, it’s just that, emotionally speaking, I am in a state where anything beyond vague apathy is impossible for me to feel? So I literally have no enthusiasm for anything? It’s nothing personal. It’s an across-the-board thing, don’t worry.”

Yeah, that had gone over well.

But they’d all given up on him, rightfully so. What good was he anymore? All he did was lie in bed, wander around his apartment like a ghost, barely show up to classes on a good day, and sleep. Mostly sleep. He wasn’t surprised everyone had given up on him.

“Well,” said the part of his mind that hadn’t gone entirely numb. “Not everyone. He’s still knocking, isn’t he?”

He couldn’t argue with that. As much as the apathy tried to swallow up any dissenting argument, anything that said he had a reason to get up or people who still cared about him, he couldn’t argue with this simple, logical fact. Even if there was no emotion to go with it. Even if the fact that someone was still stopping by to make him feel better made him feel no measure of relief or gratitude, he could not argue with the fact that someone was still stopping by and still calling. Someone still cared.

Maybe there was something to that.

The next day, someone knocked on the door three times.

He listened to the silence that followed. He stared at the door from his place on the couch. He’d anticipated this and made himself move to a place closer to the door. Maybe that would make things easier. He was wrong about that—even the few steps from the sofa to the door looked like an insurmountable distance.

But he made himself get up anyway. He stepped forward, slowly, until he was at the door. He stopped. He answered.

He realized how he must have looked—skinnier than usual, dead tired, hair a mess, barely holding on to wakefulness. He saw the shock on his brother’s face, and couldn’t even bring himself to feel shame.

But there was a slight hint of something in his voice as he spoke for the first time in what felt like forever: relief. “Hey, bro.”

His brother smiled. “Hey.”

The numbness didn’t magically vanish and he didn’t suddenly feel better. But the relief was still there as he stood aside to let his brother in.
It was a start.


by Paul Francisco ’15
Portfolio Staff

The door knocked three times, and then there was silence.

Oh come on. Not again. I am way too busy to deal with this girl’s problems again. “Yeah! Come on in.” Sometimes I really wish I hadn’t become the guy best friend.

“HI MARK!” Carly yelled, opening the door and jumping onto my bed, tossing the books I had open into the air. This girl is cray-cray.

“Hey Carly! What’s up?” I said as I continued to work on my thesis. Probably her roommate brought back a boy and is being extra loud tonight.

“Oh you know the usual. My awful roommate is being her extra happy self. Oooooh. Whatcha reading?” She said, picking up my copy of The Great Gatsby. She looked at the book and saw how marked up it was.

“Working on my thesis on F. Scott Fitzgerald. That is the copy of Gatsby I have had since high school,” I said, checking out Carly. She is looking FIIIIINE tonight. This girl may be annoying, but she sure is pretty. Maybe tonight is my chance to get out of the friend zone. Carly was not an unattractive girl. She was almost as tall as I was, plus one. She had that really cute, nerdy girl kind of look going for her, plus two. When she had her glasses on SWOON CITY, plus five. She is an 11. This is the night I am going to attempt to make a move. Time to play it cool.

“Cool. Cool. Let’s do something fun and spontaneous. I am bored. You don’t want to be doing work. Let’s go out and light stuff on fire.” This girl is literally crazy…crazy hot. Carly jumped up from my bed and stood right above me messing up my hair. “Come on. Let’s go and play!”

“Carly, I need to do some serious work on my thesis. It is due in like two weeks! I can’t just drop what I am doing and go light stuff on fire with you.” I wasn’t lying. I needed to finish this thesis. I have four pages left to write. Bang this out tonight and I AM FREE. No more stressing out. No more highlighting passages about colors. Freedom.

“Oh come on Mark! Live a little bit. Come with me. Let loose. Let the fun and spontaneous guy out to play!” Carly said, closing my laptop. Then she did something completely fun and spontaneous. She kissed me. We have known each other for three years and this is the first time that she has shown any feelings for me.

“Wait. What?” I said, still shocked from what just happened. What is she doing? Does she have feelings for me? Did I give a signal? Are my hauntingly beautiful eyes just so loveable?

“What do you mean? I kissed you. That is something college kids do every once in a while. Some people do more than just kiss. Hence why I am currently in your room.” Carly said, holding my face in her hands. “Did you not want me to kiss you? AM I A BAD KISSER?!” She started to do her little extremely sarcastic act on me. I didn’t hate it. Her hands are really soft. She is definitely a Bath and Body Works girl.

“That isn’t what I am saying, Carly. I am just surprised. I thought we were just friends. We haven’t really talked about the possibility of an us.” Am I overthinking this? Oh goodness. I really hope I didn’t just screw this up. She looked at me with a look of confusion. Then a devious smile slowly began to form. She walked out the door.

“Oh fiddlesticks.” Should I chase after her? That is gooey and romantic right? Definitely should run after her. I stood up abruptly and ran toward the door. I opened it and there she was.

“Fifteen seconds. Someone once told me that if a boy runs after you, you shouldn’t let him go,” she said, looking at her phone. She took a picture of me. “I am going to keep this picture and show it to you in the future. This is the first look at the start of us.”

“Come on. Let’s go do something fun and spontaneous.”

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