The Apartment Below


After leaving the Marine Corps, I found myself obsessing over why I had lived and why others died. My obsession took the form of writing a few stories in which I was killed. It was my way of coping, until I finally got up enough courage to ask for help.  I eventually learned this was “survivors guilt.”

I know — kind of dark.

The couple in the apartment below was arguing as I lay in bed snuggled up to my girlfriend. This was nothing unusual because this always went on in the apartment below.

But for some reason tonight — it was different.

The voices were more hostile, there was more screaming and yelling. And while the words were muffled, it was easy to tell one voice belonged to a female, the other to a male.

Snuggling closer to my girlfriend, I tried to forget the voices. I was safe and warm, lying next to my girlfriend and I thought this over and over until I faded to sleep.

 Suddenly something jolted me awake. Something didn’t sound right.

Those voices had suddenly become clearer and were jointed by the sound of rushing feet. Then came the crashing of two bodies hurling themselves at one another in a violent struggle.

The struggle was followed by a loud noise — an explosive crack from the apartment below. I felt a chill run up and down my spine, which left me weak, frightened and sick to my stomach.

I forced myself to think over and over again – I’m warm and safe in the bed next to my girlfriend – until I only seemed to fade off into sleep.

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