I have a weird neighbor.
I know what you're thinking—everyone has had a weird neighbor at some point in their life, right? Twenty-something-year-olds are especially susceptible to having weird neighbors because oftentimes we have shitty credit and shitty student loans to pay off, thus leaving us with a meager salary to live off. We therefore either have to move back in with our parents or we find a cheap apartment in some sketchy neighborhood and stock up on the pepper spray and buy aluminum bats.
Well, let's just say my weird neighbor was menacing enough to drive me away from what I once called home.
Let me backtrack a little for you. My name is Blossom Sophia Fabel, but please just call me Sophia. I am twenty-four years old and a grad student at Northwestern University, which I also attended during my undergraduate years. I am originally from Denver, Colorado and I work as a waitress at a popular restaurant and bar place in Chicago called McMillan's.
My previous home was in Bridgeport, a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago that is not considered to be the most ideal place to live in, but also not the worst.
I used to live in a three-story apartment building, of which I was the youngest tenant. The majority of my neighbors were folks who have lived in the building for years—Mrs. Webb, for example, has lived in apartment 1C for the past thirty years. That's longer than my lifespan thus far. No one has kids in the building, mainly because my other neighbors consisted of middle-aged couples whose kids have grown up and left the nest.
There's only one other person that is somewhat close to my age group, however. His name is Frank Greggs. He is in his mid-thirties (judging from his male-pattern baldness), he is obese (which means I would sometimes hear him wheezing in the hallway every time he was coming up the stairs—mind you, we both only live on the second floor), and he seemed to have developed a crush on me sometime during the four years of my having lived at 1119 S. Lowe Avenue.
No. He did not develop a crush on me—he developed an unhealthy fascination with me.
When I first moved in, he would stare at me a lot. Whenever we crossed paths, I would actually greet him with a cheery "hello" or "good morning/evening". But Frank would simply stare at me with those ice blue eyes, his gaze unwavering—he would literally stop whatever he was doing (usually it would be getting his mail out of the rectangular mailbox) just so that he could stare at me. Eventually I stopped trying to be friendly.
Then he began to watch me. He would crack his door open just the tiniest bit—he would do it slowly and quietly—and watch me either leave my apartment or go in. Once I caught on to the fact that he was doing this, I was extremely wary of going into my apartment. I got into the habit of never fully turning my back on his door (he lived in the unit directly across from me), just so that I could keep his door in my peripheral. I had heard and read enough stories about predators forcing their way into women's apartments once the door was open and the victim's back was turned.
Now, I was never one to simply stand around and not do something about a problem; I was going to do something about it. I spent an entire week thinking about my options—how would I confront Frank? I was sometimes so caught up in my own thoughts that I would mess up my customers' orders. My manager, Gael, wasn't too happy with me that entire week.
Eventually, I figured that I should just go up to his door, knock on it, and speak to him in a kind yet stern manner. I prepared my speech; I kept it short and to the point. I felt confident and I was determined to make this behavior stop once and for all. So on one sunny Saturday afternoon, I walked up to Frank's door and knocked. I waited for perhaps five minutes before trying again. I knew he was home; I had caught a glimpse of his car when I had come home from the grocery store just ten minutes before.
As much as I knocked and knocked, I got no answer.
Eventually I gave up; I did, however, leave a note underneath his door. I simply let him know that I had decided to pay him a quick visit because I needed to speak to him about something, and that it was quite urgent. I knew that he wouldn't do anything about it. He wouldn't reach out to me—no, I needed to hunt him down. I was just giving him a fair warning. Maybe, I thought optimistically, he will get the hint.
I truly loved my apartment. Although it was a far cry from the home I had grown up in, I truly loved my small, cozy space. I had built-in bookshelves, a beautiful view of the tree-lined street outside, and my neighbors (minus one certain man) were all wonderful. I had "inherited" the unit from one of my dad's oldest friends, and because he had a great relationship with the owner of the building, the rent did not go up. That in itself is a true miracle, especially for a big city like Chicago.
When I first moved in, I was twenty-years-old. My dad's friend had left a few things behind for me that were in fantastic shape like the coffee table, the sofa set, and the television stand. My parents graciously bought me a wonderful bedroom set and drove all the way from Denver to help me move whatever stuff I had from my college dorm room to my new home. My sister, Rosemarie, also came to help.
I have a lot of wonderful memories of the place. It was my first time feeling like a true adult—I was only twenty and yet I was living alone, working and going to school at the same time, and buying my own groceries! I had obtained the freedom I had craved for.
That irksome voice in the back of my head, however, would occasionally pop up now and again; it's too perfect, it would say. Nothing can be this perfect.
Lo and behold, that stupid little voice was right. Frank Greggs decided to make me as uncomfortable as possible. I had put up with him and his antics for far too long.
Approximately two weeks ago, I found a bouquet of roses at my door. This was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I immediately knew whom had done it. The building's main door is always locked, so you need to be buzzed in. Also keep in mind that I found those flower sitting at my door at about eight o'clock in the morning, when I was on my way to class—no outside stranger is going to waltz up to the apartment building in the early hours of the morning, be buzzed in by someone while not knowing who they are, and drop off the flowers. It didn't make sense.
I knew I needed to catch Frank in the act. I needed to put an end to this, and fast. I didn't want this attention, I didn't want to be monitored, and I most certainly did not want to be his neighbor anymore.
So I tried again and again to catch this man in the act. I finally did.
And when I did, I swung my door open, furrowed my eyebrows, and crossed my arms.
There he was, crouching down to leave yet another bouquet—this time daisies. He stumbled back a bit, alarmed at my actions.
"Frank," I sighed. "We need to talk."
A/N: Hello there, reader! If you've made it this far, please drop a review :) I would love some feedback on this story!
Also, I would just like to clarify that this chapter and the next one will be like a flashback of sorts. The third chapter is when we will be caught up to speed.
Thank you so much!