There was a knock at the door. At the sound of it, her heart halted in her chest. It was past eleven. It was probably the wrong house; a Deliveroo driver off course. Her mind raced through the possibilities, and as the silence fell so her thoughts tripped over themselves and drifted apart. No, no one there. Must have been the wrong house.
She pulled her blanket around her and snuggled back into the sofa, sighing with unnoticed relief. Knock, knock. There it was again; slow and steady. An insistent yet patient knock. Her skin prickled with sweat so she pulled the blanket back, reaching out to the cool that would calm her.
She picked up her phone, without knowing why. And she held it hard as though it might offer up an answer. Again she imagined who could be standing on the other side of the door. She pushed herself to be practical, logical. The knock rang out again, and her heart began to race.
Gripped by her anxiety she felt a sudden wave of exhilaration. She got up and, without thinking it through, marched into the hallway. But as she looked up to the paned glass door, she saw nothing. No shadow, no silhouette, nothing to suggest someone had been there.
She smiled nervously, and attempted a laugh. So silly. So stupid of her to be scared. She returned to the living room and sat back on the sofa. She let out a sigh as though to reassure herself of the calm that had fallen. But then it came again. Knock, knock. Though it was distant this time, further away. And so different as to make her think it was not the same noise at all.
The knock rang out again, and she realised, it was coming from the back door. Burglars! Yes, she thought to herself. It must be burglars! Checking to see if anyone was in. Seized by her anger, because she couldn’t stand the fear, she ran into the kitchen and flung open the back door. But there was no one there.
The lights from the neighbouring houses bathed the garden brightly, and in this sealed box, behind her terraced home, there was no one to be seen. Even so, she would not let herself fall prey to the fear that followed her. She must be right. She just must. She turned and walked back into the house, slamming the door loudly behind her.
She locked the door, and double bolted it, before returning to the front door to do the same. By now she had grown into the story she had been telling herself. It must have been kids. Stupid kids, trying to scare her. She returned to the sofa and soon she began to fall asleep.
In her haze she walked herself up to bed, turning off the lights as she went. Her head hit the pillow and she readied herself for sleep, the sleep that would not come. Because someone was knocking at her bedroom door.