Becky left town on a Saturday, with plans to return the following Wednesday. She loaded her backpack into the trunk of the Uber and was driven off to the airport. There was to be an interview, a great and exciting turn of events, and she believed she just might get the job!
Sam, her husband, was to stay home with the kids. Becky’s flight was late Saturday so she could get plenty of rest in before the two-day interview began on Monday. They’d sit around, eating pizza and playing with shaving cream and laughing about silly things on the internet, and when Becky returned, everything would be clean and ready for the big announcement: the family would be moving to Los Angeles. Or the family wouldn’t be moving to Los Angeles.
Don’t hold your breath, Sam thought.
“Gotcha!” cried Adam, blasting away with his Nerf gun.
Sam smiled at him and pretended to die. At least Adam wasn’t glued to his iPad, locked away in the bedroom like his sister was. Allie was a sweet girl, but she didn’t have the need for other people that Sam and Adam shared.
Adam ran away, ostensibly to reload his weapon and resume the dad-assault, when there came a knock at the door. Sam always ignored his phone when unknown numbers called, and he certainly wasn’t expecting anyone—it was almost bedtime for the kids, after all—but nonetheless, he made his way to the front door and peered out the peep hole.
It didn’t look like anyone was there, so he opened the door and flipped on the porch light. After glancing both ways, he headed back inside. Probably just some kids playing one of their dumb games, he thought to himself.
Back inside, he saw he had a text message.
I’m here, safe and sound, the display read. The message was from Becky.
Great! Love you! Sam typed, before snapping a quick picture of Adam with his Nerf gun, gearing up for another assault. Sam sent the picture and text before the dart hit him on the shoulder and he pretended to die again.
He had just put the kids to bed when there was another knock at the door. Louder, and more insistent this time. He went to it again, looked outside, and there was still no one there. He went into the kitchen and got his big heavy flashlight and went out of the house, looked around into the bushes. He glanced across the street, but nothing was out here.
Frustrated, Sam went back inside.
The next week, Becky got home safe and sound. She’d gotten the job, and the family went out to celebrate at a local pizza arcade. The kids were happy to play games while the grownups discussed their upcoming move.
“I just can’t wait to get there, to be in L.A. doing L.A. things! We’ll have a swimming pool and go to the beach and my job will be soooo much better!” Becky giggled, drawing out the oh sound in so like she imagined the women in L.A. would.
Sam smiled, pulling her a bit closer to him. He didn’t necessarily want to move to L.A., but Becky was his queen and he would do what she liked.
That night, the knocks repeated. Sam was growing annoyed with them, but he didn’t let it bother him too much.
When the sequence started again the next night, three sharp raps right around 8, with the more intense series to occur about 9, Sam decided to pull a fast one. He went out to his car in the driveway and sat there with the engine and lights off, waiting to see who this phantom knocker was.
He waited a few minutes, and three laughing preteens sprinted to his front door, knocked as hard as they could, and sprinted away down the street. The boys were Allie’s age. Sam thought for a moment about pursuing them, but he just sighed and went back into the house. It was going to be a tough move for his daughter, and he needed to think of a way to cheer her up.