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After an hour of explaining, and apologizing…True, since they began seeing each other long distance, they had traveled back and forth so often she sometimes got the dates mixed up. Had it been a couple weeks? Or months? She couldn’t remember…She waved her hands trying to explain. The police finally left, shaking their heads and grumbling, completely exasperated. The knife lay on the floor where she’d dropped it in surprise.

Once they’d left, Alice began again to feel afraid without knowing why. Almost, she became more frightened than before, yet could not explain it. She felt a strange distance between herself and John as if a cold wind blew. And she wrapped her arms around herself defensively. She could barely look him in the eye. But John just laughed.

“Is this your way of getting rid of me?” he scolded with a smirk.

“I could have sworn you left yesterday.” She answered. “That was terrifying.”

John reached out his hands as if to comfort her, but she didn’t want them. He caught her hesitating and glared, then rushed forward gripping her upper arms. His fingernails, needing to be trimmed were rough, and she squirmed but he only squeezed tighter. She wanted to escape; an unfamiliar feeling in his hands. Almost paralyzed, and unable to speak. All she could do was look up to his eyes. There were reflections of her face in the black corneas, making his eyes feel like shallow puddles of muddy water. Still he was squeezing, squeezing. And the fingers only dug in deeper.

Alice could feel him begin to lean towards her now, with a smile yet not a smile, a sneer on his mouth growing. It was like he was coming in to kiss her. And then his lips were pressed up against hers. His mouth was unaccountably dry, flaky, and he did not open his lips, just planted them against her face and pressed, waiting. Her heart complained against her ribcage. She wanted desperately to move. As if startled awake, Alice flinched and tried to pull away, but the kiss continued for a few seconds longer, like a game. Then he finally drew away and let go her arms.

Turning, he walked back into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. Shivering, she got back under the covers and held them to her chest. On the outside her apartment didn’t appear to have been disturbed. The light on her nightstand still glowed, as she was not yet ready to turn it off. No boot prints on the carpet. No broken furniture showing a scuffle, no rips or tears, only small hole looking into the bathroom, and the still abandoned knife on the floor reflected the disturbance.

Alice scanned the room again, searching for something. Her eyes caught on the corner. There was nothing there.

“There’s nothing there,” she whispered.

John’s luggage always sat next to the door. Sometimes shoes, a pair of socks, pants hanging with one leg draped over the side. Sometimes a single sock was forgotten, but always his bag laid unzipped, sides hanging open, ready to pack and go. She remembered yesterday morning. Or was it last weekend? Sitting slouched down in her pillows, looking out from the same spot as she did now. John packing his scattered belongings from across the apartment floor while she watched him. As he bent over to pick up a spare sock he’d caught her looking and winked.

Alice stood up and began to search, looking under the table, by the couch, beneath the bed. John’s luggage was not inside her apartment, but a lone sock bunched by the foot of her bed. Alice slid deep inside the covers again, clutching the single sock to her chest. The bathroom door opened and he walked around the bed, flicked off her bedside lamp, then got under the covers with her.

In the darkness she started to cry.

On the outside, it looked like John. But it was not the same, she twisted John’s unmatched sock in her hand and tears began to gather under her chin. He was holding her, pressing against her. She arched her back trying to avoid him, remembering all the broken pieces of the mirror shinning in the trash bin, thinking how he could have reached in and grabbed one, could have it in his hand, pressing against her back. From between her hands the sock began to feel damp. Carefully, her fingers trembling, Alice drew the knife from out of the sock and flipped over, drawing the knife across his face.

“What’s inside?” she whispered.

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