The One Who Left

The One Who Left

A Story by Sarah Hawkinson

A little obsession can be a strong emotion.


           When I saw you standing outside your door, I always wondered, what if we were friends? I’d think, what if I stopped each day during my usual walk? Would you invite me in for water? Would we talk? I was always told I had an old soul, and thought what my soul would then look like in fifty years. I believed I would get along with you better than my closest friend. You liked gardening, enjoyed literature, and of course, a good latte. My friends are not as deep as you.

            I left at my usual time, knowing you would be out as well. Because it was Tuesday, I assumed you would be gardening. I pictured bringing you water for a change because I knew you would be thirsty, on your knees in the midday sun, with your hands in the cool earth; water would relax you, and I could imagine your face after the first sip, knowing you enjoyed it by the way you sat back onto your heels. I grinned as you smiled up at me while suggesting a squeeze of lemon.

            I rounded the corner of your street, anxiously waiting to see you arched into your beloved work. Normally, you briefly glance up from the flowers and herbs for a smile, and I always tense and pretend not to notice. I’m nervous to ruin our first real encounter for there might not be any more. I thought a smile as sweet as yours is something I could at least return. It is only courteous to finally allow you to know I acknowledge you. If only you knew how much I truly think about you, how much I notice you, appreciate your work.

            I saw your fence that you put in yourself, no husband or handyman necessary. You are strong, and strong-minded just the same. I could see your white hair glisten in the sunshine, and hear your enthusiastic song echoing from your throat. I imagined us singing together, because I could tell you have a beautiful voice. I believed that when you were younger you sang, maybe even competed. I pictured myself inside your home where I could see your trophies and awards. I also saw fresh cookies, the kind that mistake you for white chocolate chunk, but turn out to be macadamia.

            Finally just a few feet away, I saw your head, as if in slow motion, rise as you felt my presence. Our eyes met, only for a second, but I turned away as usual though I said I would stay in your gaze this time. We have had several moments such as this, but I was still fearful, if things didn’t go right, we would never be friends. I was more afraid to ruin our friendship that was never a friendship at all, than to take the leap and smile.

            I arrive home again, disappointed as always. I took my fist to my pillow, and threw it across the room, with a book open and ready on my bed. I continue to beat the pillow until I hear a knock with my mother’s voice on the other side of the door. I quickly grasp the book, laying perpendicular to its binding.

            The door squeaked loudly while my mother opened it. Though I wasn’t facing her, I knew once she saw me reading, she would leave. As such, the door closed, and I wiped two tears off my cheek.

            My mother seemed to despise me. She almost wished I wasn’t who I was, rather a normal teenager. Though I think anyone the age of seventeen is never considered normal, in any sense. Soccer games, learning to drive, trying to achieve straight A’s were never of my interest. I was overweight, which was probably more reason to play soccer than not, afraid to drive, and home schooled giving me more freedom for the most part.

            The following day, I drove by while out grocery shopping with my mom, and I saw that you were outside. I thought I saw your hand rise as if to wave, but you were only brushing your silver hair out of your face. I wondered what you were doing outside that day. I had only seen you outside on a Wednesday a few times, and you were never gardening. Mostly, your car was gone, out doing errands I assume.

            I remember once, you arrived home just as I was walking past your driveway. I thought about going inside your house, looking at everything neatly put away and perfect. I was startled when I heard a car engine so close to me, but I quickly walked past your driveway so I would not be in your way. If your door was unlocked, and you had stayed out for one more hour, I would have gone in. I let myself imagine what knick-knacks you had stored in the china cabinet, or what pattern was on your dishes.

            After I heard your car door open, I briefly glanced back and took notice of your freshly styled hair. That was the first time you cut it short, and I loved it. I smiled to myself and headed home, content.

            Driving past your house again, this time coming home from the grocery store, I saw your car gone, and was worried. It was past dark, but only by a little, and you were a grown woman, allowed to do what she pleased, but I didn’t like the ideas that sprouted in my head. But you could have been out just as my mother and I was.


            The next day, your car was still gone. Did you stay somewhere? Travel to a place you have always dreamed of? Would you do it alone? Who were you with? I did think for a moment that you came home last night after we drove past, and had just run another errand today. But I knew your pattern so well, and I thought something was out of the ordinary. I stopped in front of your house, parallel with the front door. You didn’t own any pets from what I could tell. Though it was likely you could own an indoor cat, or a quiet bird. It felt like home to me, like I belonged inside it. I could only fulfill my own urges. I had to do what was prying at my insides, telling me what was right. I took a step onto your property, then another, then one more, and stopped again. I was looking down at the flowers you were planting just a few days prior. They looked magnificent, something straight from a Martha Stewart catalog.

            I continued slowly, not looking around to see if anyone was watching me, because I felt like it was my home. My hand reached the doorknob, and it turned. I thought you were quite foolish to leave your door unlocked, but this was a good neighborhood, and maybe you knew I was coming. When the door opened, it did not squeak or make any noise at all. I knew that you maintained every part of your house by yourself, so no doubt you had a can of WD-40 in your garage.

            The smell was beautiful. Often described as something unattractive, I thought it suited your aura as perfectly as the home did. It was just as I imagined night after night while trying to sleep. I’ve always been enthralled by what could possibly lie behind this door. There was a part of me that wished you came home at that moment, to see me standing there. I trusted you would welcome me, and finally offer me that glass of water.

            I paced through your home quietly, as I could imagine you would. I walked to the kitchen to help myself to something to drink. I didn’t think you mind too terribly, considering we were going to be old friends. The kitchen was set up sweetly, and very old-fashioned. The basic utilities scattered among counters covered in decorative home goods such as a breadbox and knife block. I opened two separate cupboards and on my third attempt found the glasses. I first looked in your fridge to see if you had water filtered like I do at my house. You did not, so I took some from the tap. I headed in the direction of the hallway, knowing your bedroom wasn’t far. I wanted to see how organized you kept things, how you made your bed in the morning, and what sort of throw pillows you enjoyed. I reached a closed door, I could only imagine being your bedroom, and turned the knob.

            It was then that I heard a car pull into your driveway. Something made my heart skip a beat, and suddenly I was nervous. I heard you open your car door, and another door opened shortly after. Your voice trailed into your home, and I could hear another voice as well. It was a man’s voice.

            I could only assume that was where you have been, out with a gentleman friend. I grew angry, and dropped the glass as it shattered on your beautiful hardwood floors. I listened before running into the closed room. Your voice was growing louder and I knew you were by the front door. Did I close it? Judging by the tone I heard, I did not.

            “I don’t understand,” I heard you say. “I could have sworn I locked it.”

            “Let me go in first,” said your friend. I then heard a few heavy footsteps on the wood floor, just in the walkway.

            I was in your bedroom, looking around as I hid. Everything was elegant and feminine. One could tell you were old-fashioned. I heard the footsteps closer; I had not shut the bedroom door either. I had slid under the bed for a tight squeeze. Probably the worst choice given it is an obvious place to check.

            I heard lighter footsteps behind your friend and knew you were behind him. Both your footsteps were crunching on the shattered glass.

            “I always keep my bedroom door closed!” I could tell by your voice that you were stressed. You were worried that you had an intruder. I remember wishing that I had the guts to come out and show you who I was so we could finally start gossiping.


            That is as far as I can remember. I don’t remember coming out from under the bed. I’m told that you moved, along with your gentleman friend, though I don’t believe it. I know you would not leave that house, that neighborhood, or me. I always throw a fit when my mother comes in to visit me and tells me you’re no longer here. I know you’re still at that house, with your garden and your fine china, still gardening on Tuesday and running errands on Wednesday.

            I saw my mom come into my room; the ward let her in and out every Friday. That was the day we were allowed visitors. She sat across from me at the table and took my hands. Apparently, my doctor was trying to get her to work with me because there was an assumed trust between us. Personally, I don’t think there was any trust, she wished I was someone else; I could feel it in her voice.

            “Honey,” she said to me. “Look at me.”

            “Why?” I asked.

            “Because I need you to know what happened. I need you " we need you to remember.” She stared at me with her prying eyes, not blinking.

            I looked at her finally.

            “Do you know where Mrs. Shirworth has gone?”

            “She wasn’t married.” Now was my turn. I despised my mother for putting me in a place like this, thinking I was crazy. I only wanted a friend.

            “Okay, Ms. Shirworth?”

            “She still lives at that house, near us,” I said matter-of-factly as if there were no other option.

            “No sweetie.”

            “Why do you do that?”

            “Do what?”

            “Call me sweetie.” I grimaced.

            “Bec "”

            “You never gave a damn about me before I got here! You can’t make up seventeen years with a little bit of baby talk.”

            My mother was taken aback. It was true. She had not cared for me, except for the basic mother instinct of keeping me alive. The term “alive and well” was not in her vocabulary.

            “I’ve always cared about you hon.”

            “Just stop it.”

            “Stop what?”

            “The f*****g baby talk!”

            “Okay.” She sighed deeply and looked at the warden with us in the room as if she were asking for his help. “Mrs. " Ms. Shirworth does not live down the street from us anymore.”

            I glanced at my mother briefly.

            “She does not live on this earth anymore.”

            My gaze went directly in her direction. “What are you talking about? She’s not dead. She’s down the street.”

            “No "”

            She’s not dead!

            “Sweetie, you … killed her.”

            “No, no no, no.” I couldn’t believe my mom was telling me that you died. I knew you were still alive. It didn’t make sense.

            “You had a knife.”

            “No I didn’t! I was under the bed! She came in with a man! He murdered her!”

            “They have proof that you had the knife.”

            I was sobbing. If you were really gone, it couldn’t have been me to do it.

            “Do you remember?”

            “All I remember is being under the bed. And then being at home.”

            “You never came home. Someone heard screaming and called the police and when they arrived at Ms. Shirworth’s home, they saw you … prodding at the man’s body with the weapon. Her body was in the living room.”

            I was silent. I heard the ward whisper to my mother, “I think that’s enough.” As my mother got up and walked to the door, he continued, “Sometimes the brain will block out things that are too traumatic to comprehend.”

            I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!” They both left the room, but I continued to proclaim myself. “I didn’t do anything! I was hiding.” I began whimpering. “You’re not dead. You’re not dead. You still live there. You’re still alive.”



© 2010 Sarah Hawkinson

My Review

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Fantastic story idea, I really like the way you decided to tell it. It needs a couple of grammatical errors cleaned up, and I would try to use the word I less. And I'm not one of those "I" nazis, because I think it's ridiculous to try not to use it, but it is used a LOT in the beginning of this story. You have a much more natural flow when you're telling the end when the killer and their mother are sitting down talking.
A good way to avoid it would be a part like
" I was in your bedroom, looking around as I hid. Everything was elegant and feminine. One could tell you were old-fashioned. I heard the footsteps closer; I had not shut the bedroom door either. I had slid under the bed for a tight squeeze. Probably the worst choice given it is an obvious place to check.
I heard lighter fo"

"Standing in your bedroom absorbing the places I could hide I noticed how feminine and elegant it was. An old-fashioned kind of elegance. The footsteps grew louder and I realized the door was still open. Under the bed was the most obvious place to hide, so naturally I could think of nowhere else to go."

Or something like that. I hope that helps, it's a good story!!

Posted 5 Years Ago

Great story! The beginning is very intriguing. One can tell that there is something wrong with the main character (narrator), but unable to pinpoint what it is. It's also very hard to predict what will happen next in the story.

However, the connection between the ending and all the build-ups is a bit forced. It takes the readers out of the eerie details and suspense you so nicely webbed for them. It's a big emotional jump from a sick attachment to killing both people at once. The mother explaining the murder in only a few sentences also makes the ending less enthralling.

Still a very creative story. Great job!

Posted 10 Years Ago

Wow!!! I have been so riveted to this story from the start and all the way through. This is an excellent story, an excellent concept - genius concept in fact. Well done x

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, what an amazing mysterious story! It had me on edge. And it left me wondering if the gal could have possibly been the one who killed the lady and the man, especially with how much she admired that lady. Great writing, too!

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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4 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on June 28, 2010
Last Updated on June 28, 2010
Tags: psychological, thriller, horror, obsession


Sarah Hawkinson
Sarah Hawkinson


I have a dream of becoming a fashion writer, but horror writing is deep in my heart, as I have been writing it for ten years. more..

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A Story by Sarah Hawkinson