You convinced yourself she wouldn’t be missed when your sickening cogs started clicking the day she told you she was ending it.
‘Desperate. Intense. Obsessive. Creepy.’
She needed to be taught that words could be just as harmful as sticks and stones and carving knives.
You were proud of how you managed it. You calculated it exactly: the precise forty second window you’d have. The time it took the hinges on that gaudy red door to swing to a close, thereafter sneeringly refusing admittance. You’d counted, once, waiting as she rummaged for her keys, inhaling her coconut shampoo and noting the tiny freckle on the side of her neck.
You were pleased with how smoothly it all went. Twenty-five seconds (subtracting fifteen for her roommate to totter downstairs in skimpy heels) was ample time to get across the landing in your half-crawl, crouching low, moving fast. You’d only allowed ten, not anticipating the hindrance of the heels, but your thumping heart quickened your passage across the brightly-lit, grey-carpeted desert. An oversized gerbil hunted by the hawks of ceiling lights above, you felt exposed.
But then you were in.
You’d calculated the extra three seconds which you’d need to save (after entering) to allow the door to continue closing of its own accord. Too late, and your hefty frame would disrupt its passage.
And she might be counting the forty seconds from under her blanket on the couch. It couldn’t be shorter, couldn’t be longer. Had to be forty. Or she’d know. She’d know, sipping her hot lime juice and reaching for the tissues, that something was amiss. She’d guess that you’d planted the flowers she’d told you she was allergic to in the pot near her window on purpose to make her feel ill and stay at home.
She’d guess you were there, holding your breath with your back against the door. She’d listen as you slipped into the kitchen. She’d laugh at you not bringing your own murder weapon. She’d stay sitting where she was, listening, and wait for you, then counter-strike when you pounced.
But – like you said, you managed it.
Thirty-seven seconds, and you were in.