Alone In A Crowded House

Told by: Sonatta

Woman Standing On Porch Alone

In today’s reader-submitted story, Sonatta explains how putting on a pair of shoes turned into an afternoon of her mind playing tricks on her.

“I used to visit a good friend who lived in the countryside. It was quite a distance from where I lived so I would spend the entire weekend with her and her husband. They were incredibly gracious and often hosted other friends for Sunday lunch and cooking, chatting and relaxing.

On one of my visits, they invited the group — five of us in all — to go for a walk after lunch. It was a chilly afternoon, and I still had my comfy slippers on. I need something more sensible for my feet so I asked the group to wait for me while I went back to my room to put my walking boots on.  A few other guests also wanted to get a coat or use the lavatory before going so we all split up. 

The house was spacious, but not exactly huge, and the guest room with my stuff was on the same level as the sitting room. It was a short walk down the hallway. 

I found my walking boots, fiddled a couple of minutes with the laces, put a jumper on, and quickly returned to the sitting room. I could hear my friends laughing loudly down the hall and I rushed to meet them.

I was incredibly disappointed when I got to the sitting room and they had all left. I could hear them talking and laughing in the distance. I went to the window and shouted “wait for me!” but I couldn’t see them walking down the pathway or crossing the garden. 

I noticed the sitting room was impeccably tidy, no signs of coffee cups or full ashtrays anymore, and I wondered how they found time to tidy up the place so quickly. I looked for my other friend that went to the bathroom. She was gone as well. I looked in the kitchen, went to the dining room, but no one was around. I thought about trying to catch up but I was upset about being left behind and I went back to my room to put my slippers back on. I decided to sit by the fire and wait for their return.

When I got back to the sitting room, they were all there, just the way I had left them. The place wasn’t tidy, all the signs of our gathering were present including the coffee cups, used glasses, and ashtrays. 

My friends were all impatient, asking me where was for so long. I told them that I had changed in two minutes, went back there and they were gone. I even explained how I called them from the window and how I looked for them in the house but no one was around. Everyone thought I was kidding and brushed the conversation aside. 

My friend who owned the house pulled me to the side and asked why I looked so upset. I repeated the whole story, but she seemed baffled. She explained how they’d been waiting for me for such a long time.  The entire situation was so absurd that I just decided to not talk about it anymore. 

A few days later, I brought up the silly episode again in a phone conversation with the homeowner. She finally confessed that something strangely similar happened to another guest on an entirely different visit.  

I feel incredibly uncomfortable thinking about it to this day.”

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