One Friday night after final exams in graduate school, I had a plan. I planned to write for several hours before bed (which I rarely did during the week because I have a habit of losing track of time when I write), get some decent sleep, wake up to run 5 miles at first light, and then write some more. Basically a whole weekend of eat-sleep-write-exercise with nowhere else to be. Mahaha! I was so stoked.
For background noise, I chose a random scary show on Netflix (I need noise to write; a silent room puts me to sleep) and, though I paid little attention to the show, it made me vaguely paranoid. As a result, even the most predictable sound from the darkened parking lot outside seemed sinister.
Some background: My apartment during university was on the ground floor and the small living area had a pair of sliding glass doors with raggedy hanging blinds that, when opened, gave me a front row seat to three pairs of doused headlights from cars in the parking lot (there were maybe 15ft between the glass doors and the edge of the lot). To make matters noisier, the rubber weather stripping of the front door and sliding glass doors were so old and warped that I could hear everything going on outside as if my doors were wide open. (Day and night I could hear people walking past, car doors opening and closing, other tenants stomping up and down the stairs, cars beeping as they lock/unlock, the crinkle of plastic grocery bags, parents arguing with their kids about homework or dinner, phone conversations in Spanish.) At night, bright lights would occasionally sweep across the windows and glare under the hanging blinds as a car drove into my section of the complex to troll for a parking space, illuminating my rooms for an irksome moment.
Back to the story. As I wrote in the living area that night, my newfound (and temporary) paranoia frequently inspired harmless sounds from outside to jolt me from my write-a-thon. When I heard something, I stopped and listened like a chicken (“Who’s there?!!!“), and then returned to writing.
I took a break to get a drink of water and noticed a stationary light shining under the blinds. It was an odd light. Headlights? Cup in hand, I paused to see if the light shut off or shifted to show that a vehicle was leaving. It remained. But, the longer I waited, I realized it didn’t quite look like headlights. I couldn’t put my finger on it. A flashlight maybe? Well that was creepier (Me: “Is somebody just standing out there?”).
I went to the edge of the hanging blinds, and peeked out.
Dude, it was the sun.