I’m worried about my roommate. He doesn’t like talking to me. I’m not great with him either, but I need a record at least to show someone else I’m making an effort. Show myself he isn’t so scary. And I made it a weird name he can’t guess or look for, so it’s easier for me to be honest. Writing helps me think, helps me remember. The day is never just what I see, is it?
And with all that… today was boring. Don’t remember much of it.
This place is fine. I just don’t like that I’m here in such a hurry. With nowhere else.
[interior apartment pictures removed to protect privacy]
I did something stupid earlier, so I need to go. I’ll be back later with takeout.
My roommate said I could post this, but I don’t remember much at all about the flood in my apartment last night. I just have apology takeout in the passenger seat.
I remember the phone call on the way in. His shaking “get here now”. A low rush of static on the floor. Heavy thuds.
I remember trial and error with the apartment keycard. I don’t hear any running water from the hallway, but there is a dripping sound.
I get to my room five minutes after the call. The air is humid. The electric lights don’t work. I see nothing. No water.
I call out for Sam and get nothing. Maybe he isn’t here.
I pick up his flashlight by the door and tap it awake. A pair of shoes slouches near the door bumper. I know he’s here.
Wet towels spread out over the kitchen. Puddles rest across the living room, just below my feet. My couch by the far wall is covered: pillow and blanket and now a topography of junk. A water line reaches just below the top of the cushions, but no water. I don’t know where I sleep that night.
Everything here is closed. Sink is off. Fridge is shut. Dishwasher is empty.
I walk a few steps further. Bathroom is as dry as ever. The shower doesn’t drip. No leaks. Still no Sam.
“Hey, I’m here,” from me.
Nothing from him.
Instead, cabinet doors hang open, with another pile of towels underneath.
I turn the corner.
The bedroom door blocks him. No. Blocks me.
I knock and pull out my phone. “I got your call,” a call of my own. “The landlord isn’t answering. Did you get all the water cleaned up?”
Alive. I can work with that.
I push the door open. A boy my age sits low on the bed, soaked through. His dilated doll eyes don’t link with mine. He’s still conscious, for now.
“Sam? Are you okay?”
The boy looks up. He pries his jaw open in a smirk and says nothing. I hear his lungs flicker. He knows how far away I was.
I approach, crouch to him. “Breathe. With me. In.”
He wiggles until he’s upright. “Tyler.” He recognizes, collects himself, backs away as I approach. “I’m okay.”
“You’re not hurt?”
Sam shakes his head. He looks twenty-three again. He opens his mouth and his front teeth are stained red. Did he hit his head?
I pull a handkerchief out of my pocket. I try a smile. Sam snatches the cloth from my hand and covers his mouth.
“Do you need to go to the hospital?”
He shakes his head, winces, goes slower. “I’m not hurt. You know what happened?”
I don’t know anything. I grab a towel from his bed and dry off his shoes and pants. “You need dry clothes, or you’ll get sick.”
“Water,” he stresses.
Is he thirsty? “I’ll get you some water. Come on.”
“No. Up to my waist.”
Is his vision blurry? I help him to his feet and say nothing.
He sounds like he hit his head, hard. We need to get him dry, or he’ll get hypothermia.
I drape his arm over my shoulder as he stands. His steps strengthen as we make our way to the porch.
“You weren’t here,” he mutters. A trail of watery footprints follows us out.
I will ask around and see if anyone knows about this flood Sam is talking about.
[two distinct voices]
Tyler: Hey, I’m Tyler. I live next door.
Finn: Hi. I’m Finn. I would shake your hand, but—
T: I get it. Um, I wanted to let you know my room flooded last night.
F: A flood? Like water?
T: Yeah. I didn’t see it, but my roommate did.
F: Is there a pipe burst or something?
T: That’s what I think. My roommate isn’t convinced.
F: Well, I’m sure an earthquake like that could burst a pipe.
T: Oh, was that an earthquake?
F: I’m sure.
T: I guess an earthquake could burst a pipe like the ones here.
F: The pipes here?
T: The earthquake here. But I didn’t notice an earthquake.
F: But the earthquake might break a pipe, or at least push up some groundwater.
T: Yeah, but I think the landlord already checked that out and didn't find anything. He was in my room cleaning up last night.
F: Was he there the night before, too?
F: Well, I saw someone out on your balcony last night.
T: That was probably my roommate.
F: Do you think he knows something about the earthquake?
T: Why are you so adamant that there was an earthquake?
F: Because there was. Ground was—
T: (narrating) He holds both hands out next to each other, flat and level before they pneumatic seesaw.
(Note: this gesture may closely resemble the American Sign Language word for "balance".)
T: Okay. To be honest, I wasn’t even here for most of it. And my roommate says there was a flood.
F: Maybe that was the mud. There was mud on the floor near the walls.
T: What time was that?
F: Eight at night or so.
T: I was here just after then. I didn’t see any mud in my room. I didn’t feel any shaking.
F: That’s fine. Glad no one else got hurt.
F: Our takeout spilled, but not sure that has anything to do with anything.
T: You’re sure you don’t know anything about a flood?
F: I know about the mud. The floor still has mud all over.
T: (narrating) I peek behind him and see some mud caked onto the floorboards.
F: But you and your roommate are okay?
T: As okay as we are.
F: Did something else happen?
T: (narrating) He looks at me and his head tilts just a little and his mouth perks up. He’s surprised I’m there all of a sudden or something.
F: Gosh, you’re early. You should know the guy I live with sleepwalks.
T: What does that have to do with anything?
F: I hear Brandon walk down the hall at night. The sound of his steps. Always approaching but never quite sure if he’s approaching me until he stops. I know he’s going somewhere but I might be a goal or just a mile marker. I never know which.
F: Come back later, whenever you need anything. For now, just keep the lights on. Listen for anything weird.
T: Thank you, I guess.
T: (narrating) I think he means Sam.
(The door closes. End of recording.)
(A knock on the door. Brandon opens the door.)
[two distinct voices]
Sam: Hey, I wanted to let you know my room flooded last night.
Brandon: No kidding. Are you okay?
S: (narrating) Smells like honey.
S: Yeah. I'm fine. My roommate left me behind in a disaster.
B: And you hit your head.
S: (surprised) How do you know that?
B: You’re a little off-balance still. I played football in college.
S: Oh. What position, can I ask?
B: Defensive end.
S: Cool. Remind me what we’re talking about.
B: Football. Before that, your head injury. Do you want to sit down?
S: You remind me of my roommate. No thanks.
B: Roommate was before head injury.
S: (laughing) Are we going backwards?
B: I certainly feel that way.
S: Actually, do you mind if I sit down?
B: Go ahead.
(Sam sits, presumably inside Brandon's apartment.)
S: So there was a flood in my room last night.
B: Wow. It didn’t sound like that at all to me, but if that’s what you think, I believe you.
S: What did you hear?
B: An earthquake. But I don’t know how there was an earthquake. We don’t get those around here.
S: “Around here?” You’ve been here for a while.
B: Longer than you. You moved in not too long ago.
S: Yeah. A month or two ago.
B: I think that’s all I know right now.
S: Okay. If you notice anything else weird, will you let me know?
B: Sure, if you want. I will say whatever gets you to leave sooner.
S: What do you mean?
B: I was asleep.
S: I’m so sorry.
B: Don’t worry. You didn’t wake me up. My roommate did.
S: Is he here?
B: No. He leaves all the time.
S: I get it.
B: You do?
S: Yeah. My roommate’s like that, too.
B: (complaining) Mine sleeps during the day, not at night. I had thought that was weird, but if he’s doing stuff in the apartment when I’m not awake, I guess that works for him. I’ll just have to let him know that that’s okay.
S: My roommate’s like that, too.
B: Well, hopefully, you trust him to keep everything safe after the earthquake.
S: And the flood.
B: We’re near enough to the Box Elder River, even the Salt River, that there might be some overflow. But if you say there’s a flood, then I guess there’s a flood.
S: (standing up) You sound just like my roommate.
B: Look. Just try to understand where he’s coming from. And if you hear something, will you let me know? I’ve been trying to figure out this earthquake. No one else thinks there’s enough seismic activity for it.
S: I get what you mean. Thanks. I’ll call you if anything weird happens.
[door opening and closing]
S: I got what he said on my phone. You want me to send it to you?
Tyler: Yes, please.
S: What are you using this for anyway?
T: [unclear voice] Um. I want to get to know the neighbors.
S: You could just talk to them yourself.
T: [unclear] I get all tongue-tied. You remember how I was when I moved in.
S: [realizing] Ohh. No problem.
Sam is out this morning. Not sure where.
I’m supposed to keep an eye out for anything weird.
I’m busy working at home. In the apartment. I never know if I make myself as clear as I think I do.
Not like I can do much outside anymore.
I’m thirsty. I can’t turn the thermostat any lower or else we pay extra. A fan sits still in the living room. I can’t find the right batteries for it. The sink water is gross, too. I keep some in the fridge, and that only helps a little with the plastic taste.
I pour a glass and look for ice in the freezer.
Sam doesn’t think ice could melt from in here. There’s enough ice that I can’t see the frozen food tucked in the back. If even some of this ice melts, water would end up everywhere.
I drop a few cubes into my cup. The water rises.
Sam keeps mentioning the water in our apartment. I wish he would let this go. If he’s upset because I left to go get takeout, this is too long to hold a grudge over food. And his food was gross. And that’s not why I got the takeout.
Sam comes to the kitchen a lot. We don’t talk here. We make food. At least that pact doesn’t extend to the couch. I don’t ask for anything else. But even when he’s not here, he’s here.
I make eggs for breakfast, with a crack on the flat counter and a flat pull. The whites of the egg connect the otherwise jagged shell. Food’s here. I make the food here. I do this. Sam would do this. The smell would pull me out of bed with a flop on my face. I would hear the pan.
Instead, breakfast is one quiet plate and some salt and a glass of water.
Or not so quiet. The ice rumbles in the freezer. Not just falls. I can hear all the ice.
A crunching rhythm. One to another. Footsteps. Where?
I yank open the freezer and gaze at stagnant ice.
More footsteps. Ice underfoot. Where is the sound? Outside?
I open the door and check the hallway. I see nothing. Nothing can get in. everything is fine.
I turn back into the room.
Sam is at the stove. He jostles some bacon in a frying pan. His neon-blue athletic shirt gets all my attention. I get none of his. He scratches his chin when I say hello.
I snatch my plate of eggs and end up at the table. Far enough for now.
Sam brings up the water in the apartment. Ice cube.
I wish he would let this go. I ask him how he feels.
“Better. Guess I heal fast.”
I’m not sure he noticed the first aid from last night. And his concussion a few days ago.
I check my phone. Three voicemails, asking where I am from the bridge. A crumb from the pan drops into the fire.
I go and get groceries. Nothing exciting. I feel tired all day today.
If Sam won't talk to me, I'll have to record everything that happens. The only way to know for sure I'm not making this up.
Sam is saying nonsense. I remember all of this clearly.
Sam is on his way out. I am on my way awake. I am lucky to not go outside. I don’t go anywhere too quickly.
Sam was there. Here, I mean. A week ago. He knows more than I do. All I know for sure is that the apartment was soaked and he hit his head.
When he sees me, he asks what I want from the grocery store.
I remind him that he hit his head. He shouldn’t be going out at all at this point. Beyond everything outside.
Sam straightens his shoulders, struts in place. “I can move just fine. And I’m going out.”
I ask him if he liked the takeout in the fridge.
Did you try it?
“Yes. It smells.”
I was trying to say sorry for spilling coffee in the bedroom.
“Well, my bedroom is clean, so it’s fine.”
Will you let me apologize?
“I don’t know. I’m not your parent.”
I don’t remember what he says after that. He’s not listening. Please listen to me.
There’s a humming noise.
Sam walks besides me and smiles. He’s not paying attention. “You’re not apologizing. You won’t help me.” Sam grabs my hand and I feel a few folded bills pressed in. “For gas,” he mutters.
Does he remember he’s the one going out?
The noise isn’t any louder, but everything else goes quiet.
I say nothing. No point. He’s too drowsy to know what he’s saying.
He shouldn’t leave.
I start going back to the couch when Sam’s knees buckle. I catch him right away. Something I have practice with now.
Then he shushes me. I don’t believe this guy. He’s still drowsy. I knew it.
He says there’s a noise. I don’t hear anything except the air conditioner...
I check the couch while Sam checks the kitchen. Still nothing.
I get closer to the bedroom. Sam steps in front of me and goes in. Still nothing. Still, nothing I can do.
My back hunches as I peek over the corner. I miss the stupid noise again.
Sam won’t read this, so I can say this:
Sam doesn’t move for the next full minute. I yell. I wave. I tap him on the shoulder. Nothing works. When I back away, he takes one step forward.
When I walk backwards to the couch, he moves no problem.
What were you doing?
“I was just walking over here. Did something happen?”
Yeah. I tried getting your attention for the past minute.
“That was five seconds ago,” he corrects me.
No. You were pulling some stupid trick.
“No, I’m not.” His voice sharpens. “I’m not being weird. I’m still here. You’re still who knows where.”
You blanked out.
“I was here the whole time. Where did you go?”
I didn’t go anywhere.
Sam’s head still hurts. He goes into the kitchen, following my gaze.
Sam doesn’t want to talk to me. “You disappeared again, like the flood.”
This has nothing to do with that.
“I think it does. You can’t just ignore this like it’s nothing.”
As far as I can tell, it is nothing. I don’t know what interests you so much about hitting your head, but I don’t care. You need to rest and recover and get on with your life.
“I know I saw more than the flood that night. I wasn’t safe.” His voice shakes.
Let’s take a step back.
I’m keeping track of everything I can. If anything else happens, I’ll see it. Happy?
“No. You still don’t believe me.”
You need my help now. You say anything more about it…
I tell him to drop it.
“Time to leave. You’re not here when it matters either.”
Sam tells me to lock the door. The door locks automatically.
I go back to sleep and don’t quite make it to the couch.
Tyler: (calling out to somebody, polite) Okay. Thank you.
T: (to microphone) Now I know for sure Sam is lying. The plumber just left. There is nothing wrong with the pipes. No damage or corrosion or anything like that. He showed me. There's no way water could have gotten out... last week. Gosh, that was last week already. (chuckle) Everything's welded shut. Not even a leak.
T: (to microphone) We just have to try throwing stuff away more than using the garbage disposal. That could clog up the sink. Other than that, nothing.
T: (to microphone) It's just nice to know this thing is going away. Sam will be happy, too.
Sam: (calling out, singsong) Hello!
(Sam's footsteps, distant)
Tyler: Hey, put your stuff down and relax. I got some good news.
(Footsteps, faint wet sound)
(End of recording)
This morning is a mess.
Sam was sleepwalking or something last night. I didn't hear anything, but the kitchen is trashed. Cabinets all open. Dishes haphazard on the counters (a miracle none of them broken).
Sam says he was asleep all through the night. Whatever. Today is ruined.
[Note: password protected]
Ok. I made sure this post was password-protected so Sam couldn't find it but I could still talk to you. Just in case.
I found that note Sam made. I scared it's nonsense, but I'm even more scared that it's not. If this is sleepwalking, he was closer to me than I'd like in a way that he can't control. He's a full head taller and a lot of muscle bigger than I am. Working out or whatever. And with how stressed he's been lately, I don't want to be on his bad side.
But I need to keep an eye on him. I'll keep the blog. A camera on him (or my phone, like those audio posts) is asking for a punch in the face.
I'm okay and safe for now. I'll do what I can.
We have sushi for lunch. I think everyone's a little calmer today.
I have sushi for lunch. Sam walks through the front door and smells. He sees the sushi and his stomach makes noises.
I tilt my head at him. You don't talk shop, you get a bite.
Sam shakes, eyes at me, hands shaking, teeth clenched. Trying to hold himself back.
You don't talk shop, you get food.
Sam sits down. Zip mouth, lock, throw away the key.
We have sushi for lunch.