Existential Ponders – Beverly M. Collins

Candle

Beverly M. Collins

            “This old guy left a lot of stuff behind.” Jason said to his co-worker Carl just as Carl let out a loud triple sneeze due to the dust.

“The owner claims the old man returned home from a trip, then vanished and left all his things, even his wallet. No-one has been able to locate his family.” Jason added, as the two of them placed down a large box and heard some small medal items fall near the sidewalk.

“Sounds like some nails fell, just leave ‘em.” Carl said and they walked back to the 1950s style 4-unit building that was in bad need of landscaping.

This day was not unlike most late-December-Jersey City days. A frigid breeze cupped Sandra’s face as she walked the two blocks to her apartment building from the Grove Street Path station after work.

            Aware of her surroundings but lost in thought, she caught a glimpse of silver stuck in a raised crack in the sidewalk. She hoped to add to her collection of old coins and quickly picked it up and continued home.

            Suddenly, Sandra heard footsteps uncomfortably close behind her. When she glanced back, she saw no-one. Though it was dark out, there were people walking across the street and not far ahead of her. She felt nervous but tried to shrug it off by telling herself the sound was probably a strange echo. She quickened her pace and heard the steps quicken as well.

            When Sandra arrived home, her hands shook slightly as she pushed the key into the security gate and sprinted her petite, fit, 26-year-old frame up to the 3rd floor and into her apartment. Once she was home, she paused-took a deep breath in quiet relief to be inside.

Her cat began to cry loudly as she walked into her bathroom. “Momma is going to feed you in a minute.” She called out to her 5-year-old cat named Ruby. Out of habit, she closed the bathroom door behind her and in spite of the brisk weather, opened the bathroom window halfway.

While she washed her hands, she rubbed the coin under the stream of warm water which cleared it of dirt until she could see the round disk had a candle printed in the center and beautiful cuts with an unusual design around its edges.

            She turned off the faucet and was attempting to read the small writing on the back of the coin when she suddenly heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps in her living room, the wood creaked as the steps slowly moved closer to the bathroom door. Did she forget to lock the apartment door?

            “No, no, no!” she answered herself in a whisper as her heartbeat sped up so fast, she could hardly feed her lungs enough air to satisfy it. For a moment, she looked in all directions; ran her wet hands through her hair-frantic for anything she could use as a weapon, she grabbed a large heavy bottle of bubble bath in her right-hand while she still gripped the old coin in her left.

Sandra was waiting for the door to open when she noticed the doorknob slowly changed shape like metal/wax it twisted, made a high-pitched grinding noise and gave off a smell like a cigar as it formed into a knob sized head and face. She was first frozen to her spot then dropped the bottle from her hand and it burst onto the floor.

            She scrambled back, let out small gasp of air as her bladder emptied into her jeans. Sandra was terror stricken; tears streamed her face then the knob/head tried to talk. It belched out words from what sounded like a strangled throat. “My…My” it pushed the words out (through pinched lips) in a whisper that grew louder. “Mine…Mine” Its pointy medal eyes looked at the coin in Sandra’s hand. Its strange face had no chin nor a forehead.

            In one quick thrust, Sandra tossed the large coin out of the open window. The face on the doorknob vanished as if it were pulled violently from the knob by her throw. Sandra suddenly recalled a memory of her 4-year-old self in a basement when the light bulb burned out and she searched alone in pitch blackness for the staircase while she heard strange noises that came from every direction.

On this winter night, in her apartment, she shook, cried and screamed to the top of her lungs until her neighbors who knew her, broke down the door and found her crouched on the bathroom floor; her blue jeans soaked in spilled bubble bath and urine.

            A tall slender young man walked through the courtyard of Sandra’s building, noticed the large shiny coin at the very edge of the walkway near the grass. He quickly picked it up and dropped it in his jacket pocket. The young man bobbed his head to music on his earplugs, as he continued toward the bus stop, he did not hear the loud commotion from the apartment above or the quick steps that suddenly joined him on the walkway…

The End


Artist:

Beverly M. Collins

Beverly’s poems have appeared in many publications including The Nightmares Anthology, Journal of Modern Poetry, The Hidden and the Divine Female Voices in Ireland, Poetry Speaks! Year of Great Poems and Poets, The Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, The Galway Review, Spectrum, Altadena Poetry Review, The Wild Word, The Scarlet Leaf Review to name a few.

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