About a life with OCD, expressing its overwhelming power and 'what it can be': Murder.
I have a plan
My cell phone sits in front of me on the bare windowsill.
“Lock me in at 11, as usual,” Sonja writes.
Same message as yesterday at this time. And the day before. And before…
She keeps reminding me every night. As if I didn’t know.
I hesitate. I don’t like the usual anymore.
“I can’t keep locking you in,” I reply.
Thirty seconds later.
“Yes, you can. You’ve done it for so long,” she replies.
“Exactly, and I’ve told you that I’m fed up with it. You’re using me, but I’ve got to move on. With Roger,” I reply.
Thirty seconds later.
Forty seconds later.
Still no message.
Instead, several rapid knocks echo on my door. I sigh, rolling my eyes.
The door of my room flies open. The rickety handle bangs against the wall, drilling the hole in it deeper.
“I didn’t say come in!” I say.
Sonja plants herself in front of me, her legs slightly parted. Her hair disheveled. She doesn’t care about her looks. If I talked about aging, and that we could soon get our first grey hairs, she wouldn’t be interested.
Now she’s frowning at me. Her face scarlet.
“You know what? You’ve got no choice but lock me in,” she blurts out.
“Of course I have a choice!”
She isn’t the tiniest bit taller than me. Physically not stronger either. Still, her 5’5’’, and the way she’s posing right now would normally intimidate me. Normally.
She’s holding the screen of her phone at me. “No, you don’t. See this picture I have of you and that person from the other day when you took your au-pair children to the park?”
“Yes, and?” I say.
“You two are very close in it, right?”
“You’re hugging. Embracing. Roger surely will not like this, will he?”
“What are you telling me, Sonja? Are you trying to blackmail me? So that I stay here, keep locking you in every night and not move in with him?”
Sonja grins. I hate it.
“I only gave that hug to try to give comfort. It’s okay to do that when someone is upset,” I say.
“Yeah, but Roger doesn’t know that. He’d only see this image, nothing else. It would take me only a couple of clicks to send it to him.” She narrows her eyes. The death stare.
“You tricked me, Sonja?”
She shrugs her shoulders. She turns around, walks out of my room and slams the door. I twitch.
What. A. Damn. Bitch!
Okay, this is it. It’s got to happen. Tonight. And this time, I have to succeed. Come on, this time it’s got to happen. SHE. HAS. TO. GO. If I don’t succeed today, I probably never will. And I just mustn’t let her intimidate me over and over again.
Sonja lives in the room next to mine. Now and again, I hear her. It’s all started a long time ago, her and me. Over twenty-seven years ago. Two girls who got along extremely well. It’s been a lifetime. That’s why it’s so difficult; that’s why she thinks she can do with me whatever she wants.
We’ve all heard about these kinds of relationships when two people have been together for ages. When seemingly all appears fine. But we also all know that we get deceived sometimes, right? That, deep down, one would have liked to leave but couldn’t.
So please understand why I have spent all that time sharing my life with her. Yes, it’s been a nightmare. But now this is going to change.
Our rooms share a wall and are positioned at a ninety degree angle to each other. When I open my door and look out, Sonja’s door is to my right in the corner of the third floor.
To my left is another room with its door facing the same way as mine. A man lives in there. I call him Mr. Stumble-Late. He often only comes home long after midnight. Drunk. And so he wakes me up. I have no idea who he really is, and all we have for each other are nods when we accidently meet in the corridors.
I don’t live in my room. Not really. Rather, I exist here. Ever since we moved here, I haven’t been bothered anymore trying to make my place look cozy. I’ve done it too many times, I’m tired of it.
The only personal thing I have put up is a picture of Roger. It’s leaning against the little radio on my bedside table. Well, the bedside table – it isn’t mine but part of this furnished room. The radio belongs to me, too, but I don’t regard it as something personal. This is an empty room. I don’t like it. You wouldn’t either. It looks sterile and the smell of the new plastic floor doesn’t want to fade. If I talked to myself, I mean out loud, there would be an echo.
I always thought I knew Sonja. Inside out. But I seem to have been wrong. It’s one of the worst things to me when you think you know somebody well but discover that you don’t. Again, we’ve all heard about it, right? When Hubby suddenly comes home and breaks the news he’s going to leave for another woman. Or when you’ve done everything for your Queen but surprise, surprise, she says she has fallen in love with her new boss. How can all these things be? How did you not see them coming?
I didn’t see it coming. Not really, really. I’d never have believed Sonja is capable of blackmailing me. But she just did it. Bitch. But don’t you dare!
She’s going to destroy everything if I leave her. She claims she can’t be without me and that I must stay. But I’m exhausted. She has depleted all my energy. Life’s passing me by.
God, you know, don’t you? Please, God, if you exist, you know that I have reached the end of my rope. You know that I am done, and you do understand, don’t you?
It’s been most of a lifetime, her and me. So this time I have no other choice.
It’s not quite eight o’clock. The sunlight is soft and very orange. It makes the outside world seem so much cozier than my room.
Today is July 22, 2014. I’m standing here by my window. The slats of the blinds are open. I can easily look through the gaps. Some of those golden sunrays reach my bare arms. I like that.
I can see into the yard behind this building and over to the neighboring one, which belongs to a small company. I regularly observe people in business clothes standing outside there during office hours when they smoke. I don’t like smoking but I like those people. I know them all and have close relationships with each of them. They are my friends. My only friends, to be honest. And that person out there right now, the guy who I am talking to, that’s WHWM-Dad. Sometimes he’s with WHWM-Brother, but, honestly, I love it most when it’s just him and me. “WHWM” stands for “Wish He Was My.”
WHWM-Dad is such a good listener. He does late shifts almost every evening, which is one of the reasons why I have chosen him. He’s always there for me. I mean, most evenings.
I have talked to WHWM-Dad a lot. I’ve told him all about my plan, as well as that I have tried twice before but failed. He knows everything, although he most likely doesn’t even know I exist. He’s never really looked up here to my window.
Now, I only need to tell him I’ve just decided that tonight I will implement my plan.
If I am not deceived by his appearance, WHWM-Dad must be warm and loving. He looks like a very strong but friendly bear. He would protect his Princess-Daughter with his big paws. When he comes out through the door with his colleagues, he charmingly holds it open for everybody and smiles. His small belly seems perfect for a nice WHWM-Daddy-daughter-hug.
I know, he’s most likely not a former high school teacher since he’ll spend most of his time at work standing at a conveyor belt piecing things together. But I don’t care. I’d even treasure it that he wouldn’t come up with logical, all so annoying and heartless principles and make me lose argument after argument. I wouldn’t shed tears over WHWM-Dad.
The slats of my blinds are dusty. They need cleaning. Softly, I move my finger over one at chest height. Sonja wouldn’t stick her finger into this kind of dirt. Not without protecting it. She would use a piece of toilet paper or some other kind of tissue. Maybe even put some gloves on. Brushing dust off with a naked finger would be impossible. But it’s not the dust that is the problem. No, the dust is not the dirty thing. It’s the slats of the blinds themselves. “Made in Germany” is written on one of them. That’s why they are dirty. She still hasn’t come to terms with her own roots.
I’ve dusted about a third of the slats. I used my fingers. The dust has fallen on the floor. I sneezed a couple of times – as I said, the blinds needed cleaning.
It’s past 8:00 PM now. WHWM-Dad has gone back inside. Sigh.
It is still far too early in the evening for Sonja to start getting ready for bed. She doesn’t like doing it at all and therefore keeps putting it off. When she eventually starts, it’ll last a very long time until she’s finished. She currently takes two and a half hours, but there have been times when she took four.
Well, I’ll carry on for a while, standing here by my window, moving my fingers over some more of the dusty slats. I’ll see whether WHWM-Dad has another cigarette or goes home. Please let the hours pass quickly until Sonja goes to bed. I hope by 3:00 AM she will be asleep.
I turn back to the text messages on my cell phone.
“Okay, will lock you in at 11 then, as usual,” I lie, turn the cell to vibrate and put it back on the windowsill.
ONE OF US HAS TO GO is an adult Own Voices story of domestic suspense about a woman’s struggles with her tyrannical father, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a toxic friendship, and the dangerous lengths she’ll go to break her own chains.