It sat there like an open flap. Push down, pout out. Release, pull in. Belinda was wondering what she could put in the open flap. She couldn’t fit a finger, but she could fit the tips of her finger nail. She had been cutting carrots for her stew when the doorbell rang. She had jumped, startled – the knife had jumped forward slicing lightly into her skin. She had barely felt it. Belinda had been too distracted by her curiosity over the ringing doorbell.
Putting down the knife and pulled on her clothing. Her pants were up, she shirt was laying over them as neatly as possible as she nervously opened the door. Silently she cursed herself for not checking the peephole beforehand. There a large man stood before her. Tall and muscular. Short hair, longer beard. Eyes that looked sunken in. He studied her as if he wanted to recognize her. At first he said nothing. After a moment of silence, as Belinda was about to ask him what he wanted, “your arm,” he said, “it’s bleeding.”
Belinda looked at this man. He was wearing a plaid button up shirt untucked, with a solid grey thermal underneath. Jeans that just met the floor, the fronts tucked into his work boots. One sleeve was caught on his watch, the other was pulled over his wrist, the ends tucked into his fist. His blue hat matched the blue lines of his shirt and the deep coloring of his eyes – or at least they matched in the low light from her front porch. The wind and rained moved behind him. He wasn’t soaking – either he had been standing there long enough to beat the rain or to have dried out. Belinda took a step back, pushing the door a little further in front of herself.
“What do you want,” Belinda said more startled than she meant to?
“Your arm is bleeding. Are you okay?”
Belinda looked down. Her arm was bleeding, but that wasn’t why the man was here. Pulling her into herself, keeping the other on the inside of the door, Belinda responded, “Yes, but that’s not why you’re here. So who are you, and why are you here?” Exhaling deeply, Belinda hoped her tone had conveyed strength and not fear.
“I don’t know you,” the man said slowly as if processing this fact for himself. “But I think I used to know someone who lived here a lifetime ago,” he said as he studied the door frame and the rest of her porch.
“You might have,” Belinda said with reservation, “we bought the house 3 years ago.”
“We? I hope I’m not disturbing you and your family,” the man said shyly.
“You being here is a little disturbing,” Belinda said frankly, “and I’m in the middle of making dinner… but are you okay?”
The man looked at Belinda’s face, he had a feeling she didn’t have a family, but he did believe she was making dinner. He hadn’t come here for her, that much he knew. “I’m okay,” the man replied. “I got lost and ended up over here. Things started looking familiar and then I saw your house. May I ask who you bought it from?”
Belinda felt the hair on her neck rise. She swore after this she would make more of an effort to be social. She was in her late forties, she wasn’t dead. There was still time to find love. Real love, not the facade she had had with Jeremy. “You should go,” Belinda started and she began taking a step back.
“Wait,” the man said. Holding up his arms and backing up himself, “I’m sorry. You’re right. I’ll be on my way, but please, can I ask you one more question?”
Belinda wanted to say no, she wanted to slam the door, bolt it and return to making her stew. But she couldn’t. There was something pleading in the man’s dark blue eyes. “Alright,” she said, “but quickly please.”
The man dropped his arms and his head. Taking a deep breath in he looked almost past Belinda into the hallway of her house. “Can you please tell me who lived here before you?”
Belinda waited, it seemed as if the man had more he wanted to add.
“A few years ago I was in a hunting accident. Head trauma, lots of blood lost. I remember my childhood, my high school football career, my college years,” the man continued. Looking closer at his face, Belinda could see marks and scars that supported his story. The man looked to be about her age. “But then, there’s a hole of sorts. A whole chunk of time gone. Pieces of it I recall, occasionally something will spark, but for the most part,” the man waved his hand off into the distance.
Belinda cleared her throat, “the bank,” she said in a whisper. “I bought the house from the bank.”
The man looked up at her nodding. She had lied about being alone, she bought the house herself. He hated that he scared her. He hadn’t meant to – he just wanted to know – his thoughts were interrupted by her voice, “There had been a couple who lived here. They had been away. There was a tragedy or something. The bank foreclosed on their house.” Belinda looked into the man’s sunken eyes. For a moment they widened. The receded just as quickly.
“Thank you,” the man said.
“You’re welcome,” Belinda said as she tightened her grip on the door, “but it’s late. I need to finish dinner. Everybody needs to eat,” she said flatly.
“Of course,” the man said nodding, “thank you again. I might drive by again in the daylight. I won’t bother you or your family. Just think it might help to see the place in the daylight is all.”
Belinda hesitated, she knew he didn’t believe her family line. But she also believed that he wasn’t a threat – not to her at least.
“That’s fine,” Belinda said slowly, “just don’t make it a habit, and no more night visits, please.”
“Of course,” the man said as she turned slowly and made his way toward the street. Belinda hadn’t notice the truck there before. It had been parked on the street. Smack on the property line between her property and her neighbor’s. It was really like something had sparked when he had seen it causing him to stop immediately. Belinda closed the door, bolted it, and headed toward the bathroom.
She hadn’t noticed she was bleeding until the man at the door had said something about it to her. The exchange had been strange, there had been something surreal about it. From the second the doorbell rang through this very moment. As if time had slowed down. Belinda looked at her cut just sitting there like an open flap. The blood had dried, but as Belinda cleaned it up, fresh blood surfaced. Push down, pout out. Release, blood pooled up and rolled down her arm. Belinda had never seen a cut like this. She was still caught in the weirdness of her visitor. Slowly she stuck the tip of her fingernail into the opening. It stung, causing a rush of pain and alertness.
Belinda reached for the vanity counter as the pieces started connecting themselves. A few years ago the man had a hunting accident. Three years ago she had bought this house. The year had sat for two years prior – the bank was at a loss. The couple had gone away for the weekend. There had been an accident. The wife had died. The husband had been left for dead, he was comatose by the time the responders had found him. There were rumors though. Rumors that when police had gone to the house there was evidence that suggested foul play. Not enough to convict the husband, or the wife for that matter, but the talk of the neighbors had been that he killed her. That at the very least she had not left the house willingly or without harm for their “getaway.” No one had been surprised when she hadn’t returned.
Shivers ran down Belinda’s spine. She no longer felt the urge to finish her stew, though she wouldn’t mind having a knife nearby. She shook her head lightly as she finished sticking a bandaid on her arm, and made her way into the kitchen. There was something in the man’s eyes that touched her. Maybe it was guilt or sadness or something, but Belinda knew that the next time he rang her doorbell, she would still answer. Even if she wasn’t entirely sure she should.