3 AM (1/25/2017)
I groggily open my eyes. It’s 3:00 A.M., and I can’t move. I try to lift my back off of my plush mattress, but every time an invisible force glues me back down to the bed. My hands are stuck at my sides, my head lays on my pillow, and a curl of my hair dangles over my right eye. I try to break free of the force, but I can’t budge. Like I’m an exhibit at a museum, unable to move.
As I struggle to lift a finger, or to even get a full breath of air, something shifts. Carefully, my eyes survey the bedroom. I see my wooden desk, still with my unfinished homework lying on top, my closet, and the chair my mother used to rock me in years ago. Nothing seems strange. Until I see it, a man. He stands there, at my window looking. Looking for someone.
Looking for me.
My body is paralyzed with fear. I try to breathe, but it feels as if the force has collapsed my lungs. I want to sit up, to run away, or to hide under my covers, but I can’t execute a single movement. As my lifeless body lays there in bed, with my eyes glued to the man in the window, I try to scream. Nothing comes out.
I am completely defenseless.
His expressionless face and bloodshot eyes twitch uncomfortably. The man’s skin is decorated with wrinkles and scars. He doesn’t blink, instead, he stares. But I know he is real. With every one of his breaths, fog clouds my window.
It is three in the morning.
I can’t move.
I can’t scream.
I can’t breathe.
As I try to let out a yell for help, my throat tightens. I look back to the expressionless man, and instead of looking back at me with his expressionless face, he smiles.
10 PM (1/25/2017)
I am still shocked from last night. I keep replaying it in my head. There was a man at my window. His face was pressed up against the glass while he smiled at me. I couldn’t move and had to forcibly shut my eyes to try to go back to sleep. After what seemed like hours, it was morning, the man was gone, and I finally regained control of my body. A chill runs up my spine as I think of it again. I walk over to my window and close my blinds. Then I crawl into bed.
3 AM (1/26/2017)
My alarm clock reads 3 A.M. Again, my body has been struck by fear. I try to sit up, to leave my room where the man once was, but I can’t. The invisible force traps me once again. My eyes dart across my room looking for anything to distract me from the window. But then I hear a knock. I pry my eyes away from the poster on my wall that I was staring at. Although my curtains are shut, I can still make out the silhouette of the man. Repeatedly, he drags his closed fist on my window. I can image him, with his hollowed, dark eyes and crooked neck standing at the glass. He probably has the same smirk on his face that I left him with last night, and his shadow confirms that his hair is standing up in different directions. As he brings up his bony fist to hit my window once more, I see the shadow of his hand stop. Instead, he reaches up, and touching the glass, drags his hand down. I hear the glass squeak as he pulls his hand on and on, until reaching the bottom of the sill. Then, the knocking on my glass starts again. I try to shriek, but nothing comes out of my mouth. Instead, I close my eyes hoping to make him go away. Nothing works. For the rest of the night, the knocking continues, and my body remains frozen.
8 AM (1/26/2017)
As I sit at my desk in my physics class, I can’t focus. The typing of computer keys does not help either. Every time loud typers finish a sentence, I hear them slam their fingers on the period key. Although I know it’s coming, every time it sends a chill up my spine.
I don’t look very good either. The dark circles that belong on an insomniac’s face lie under my eyes, and my unbrushed hair sits on top of my head in a bun. As I sit in class I can’t help but wonder, why me? Why did the man come to my window? But most of all, is he even real?
9 AM (1/26/2017)
The bell rings, and I race out of class. In the hallway, I see a group of my friends and nervously approach them.
“Um… I’m not sure how to phrase this but… there was this man at my window last night and the night before, and I couldn’t move and he was watching m-” I rush through my thoughts, but someone cuts me off.
“What?!” One of my friends screams. “Are you alright??”
“Uhh,” I try to continue but again, she interrupts me.
“You should get your brain checked because there is no way that this guy is real. Nothing bad happens in this town, you know that!”
“Also,” one of the others add, “are you feeling alright? You should go to the doctor before someone finds out about this, and sends you away to a place for crazy people!” All of my friends laugh at that comment, except me. This is not funny.
“No! There was a man at my window! I saw him!” I try to get them on my side, but they are already walking away from me.
One stays behind, and right before following the group she says, “You know, it’s not funny that you’re joking about this. Some people actually are stalked, and it’s a serious issue. Grow up, it’s not funny.”
I open my mouth to say something, but she storms off to join our other friends. Whispering, I say to myself, “But I’m not joking.”
10 AM (1/26/2017)
As I sit at my computer in English class, my mind drifts to the man. I type in a Google search: there is a man at my window. Nothing of use comes up. Then, I type: I can’t move while I sleep. The first thing that pops up is an article about sleep paralysis. The answer becomes clear. There’s no way that I don’t have sleep paralysis. I have all the symptoms, explaining why I’m unable to move at night. But still, my question about the man remains. Is he real, or am I hallucinating? No, he’s definitely real. Why would I imagine something so horrifying?
2 AM (1/27/2017)
I sit up in my bed, clutching the blue plastic handle of my flashlight. I have been awake since first getting into bed four hours ago waiting for the man. He hasn’t shown. My eyes begin to feel heavy, and I decide to call it a night. Then, I flip the switch of my flashlight to off, and I crawl under the covers into the comfort of my bed.
3 AM (1/27/2017)
The man is at my window. His grayish skin and dark eyes stare at my frozen in place body. His bony hand touches the bottom of my window searching for something. Suddenly his hand stops, and I notice what he was grabbing for. The very bottom of my window. He slowly pushes up the glass, and my heart drops. The man is trying to come into my room. I scream, but no noise comes out. Again, I am trapped. He’s not real, he’s not real, I tell myself for comfort. But I’m not confident. A voice in the back of my mind tells me that the man is very much so real.
He is still lifting up my window. A breeze blows into my room, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I hear a screech, and then the window stops half way up.
Only then am I able to get a full breath of air. But the man does not leave. He stands there at my window without any expression. Just staring. Slowly, his crooked neck starts to bend until his head rests on his shoulder. He stands there smiling. I close my eyes and attempt to fall asleep because I know it's the only way that I can make the man at the window leave.
3 AM (1/28/2017)
I wake up frozen once again. Slowly, I inch my eyes over to my window in search for the man. But, as my eyes lock on the window, the man is not there. I breathe a sigh of relief. Although I can’t move, I feel the safest that I’ve been in the past few days. Then I see something shift. It’s the rocking chair in the corner of my room. The man sits in the chair watching me. My already paralyzed body stiffens. The man has his head on the back of the chair, and I get a whiff of cigarette smoke and what I would imagine is rotting flesh. He sits there, rocking steadily.
I can now see him more up close. His wrinkles are matted with dirt, and his gray skin has white and red sores. His eyes, which I can barely make out, are red around the edges and unnaturally bulge out of his head. Every hair on his head stands on end, and he wears an oversized ripped white shirt over his limp body. He uses his bare foot to rock the chair, which is also creased with dirt. As the man sits there, his entire body twitches on a beat.
My heart falls to the bottom of my stomach. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and wait for someone to save me. But no one will. No one knows that there is a man sitting in my room watching me, and no one knows that I won’t be able to defend myself if he has a weapon. All I can do is lay here and hope to fall asleep so that he will go away. I am about to do so when the man starts mumbling to himself.
“Rock...Rock...Rock a bye...Bye baby...On the tree-”
He stops singing and seizes the rocking of the chair. Sitting up straight with rigid posture, he stares forward at the wall opposite him. Slowly, he stands from the chair and walks over to the footboard of my bed. He turns to face me and stares into my eyes. For the rest of the night, the man stays in position, without moving a muscle. He stares me down, and I can hear every short breath that he takes. Eventually, exhaustion takes over, and I fall asleep to the man’s song.
“Rock a bye baby on the treetop. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks the cradle will fall. And down will come baby, cradle and all…”
3 AM (1/29/2017)
I am woken up to the sound of shuffling papers. It’s 3 A.M., again. My eyes dash to the corner of my room where the man sat last night. He’s gone, but I know where he is. The man sits at my desk shuffling through my papers. It’s just homework, but the thought of the man knowing anything about me makes me stiffen.
He stops at one piece of paper and holds it up to the light coming in through the window. I know what it is. The sheet is a printed out source about sleep paralysis. My rigid body awaits to see his next move. But nothing happens. The man sits at my desk frozen in place, alike myself as I watch him.
A few minutes later, the frail man gets up and starts walking around my room. He pauses at various things, like the posters on my wall, and my clothing that I have laid out on my floor to wear in the morning. He starts walking in circles, mumbling something, but I can’t make out his words. He just walks in the same pattern over and over again, until I relax a bit, and fall asleep.
6:50 AM (1/29/2017)
“Mom?” I call out. It’s morning, and I need to catch her before she runs off to work. Racing down the stairs of our home, I catch a glimpse of her headed out the door. I grab her arm trying to get her to stay so that we can talk to her about the man, but she’s on the phone and she is rushing.
“I’ll talk to you later, now let me go.” She shrugs my hands off of her arm, grabs a muffin from the kitchen counter, and leaves, slamming the door. I’m alone, again.
3 AM (1/30/2017)
I’m awake. But I’m not scared. This man is not real. There is no way that he could get into my room if he were. Also, although I can’t move, I don’t see him anywhere. My body relaxes. He’s finally gone, and I’m free. I would smile, but my face remains frozen.
Wait - but is he real? How else would I have been able to smell him, to see his realistic face? Nope, he’s definitely just a dream.
However, then, I feel a hand graze my forehead. Using my eyes, I look up above me to see the man. He sits on my bed with his feet on the floor and is turned to face me. His thin long fingers stroke my hair. Just seconds before, I was relieved, but now I thrash, trying to make the force let me move. I scream, but nothing comes out other than a squeak that makes my already dry throat burn.
The man sits there without any expression, touching my hair, and breathing down on me. His hot breath smells like fish and rotting fruit. He watches my unmoving body lay there, and I try to pull away from him, but my muscles don’t react. I’m stuck, subject to the man, as he calmly strokes my hair.
Before resetting his hand to run his fingers through my hair once again, he lifts his limb up and places it parallel to my chest. About six inches above it, he balls his flat hand into a fist, and I feel my lungs close. He opens his hand again, and I can breathe. He sits there, hand above my lungs, controlling my breathing for what feels like ages. Still breathing on me, I want to run away from the man. But my unmovable body makes my one wish, impossible.
After flattening his hand out once more, on routine, he makes a fist. I can’t breathe, and instead of releasing his clenched hand, he smiles at me. His crooked neck bends as he stares. I gasp for air, but none will come to me. My lungs feel collapsed. I close my eyes, praying for the man to leave, but my struggle persists. Eventually, I feel my eyes roll back, and for a moment, everything is still. Then I feel the weight of the man being lifted from my bed, and the noise of his footsteps leave the room. On the way out, he shuts my door.
7:30 AM (3/30/2017)
I run to my bus stop at the corner of my street. I know that I’m going to be late, and I clutch one of my purple folders that didn’t make it into my bookbag. As I run, the new Spring air makes my hair flow behind me.
It’s been two months since I last saw the man, and almost everything has returned to normal. I’ve realized that this man must have been a hallucination because I know now that I have sleep paralysis. The bags under my eyes have cleared, my friends no longer think I’m insane, and my paranoia has faded. I still get nervous before going to sleep, but he has never returned to haunt me. It was all a bad set of dreams.
While continuing my jogging down the street, I wave to my neighbor, Mr. Green who is walking his dog.
Although I’m in a rush, I stop to pet the dog’s head, before continuing my stride. I can’t help but smile, and the joy of Spring fills me up.
As I run, the tip of my shoe skims the ground and I fall forward, dropping my folder on the way down. As I’m about to bend down to pick it up, a man wearing ripped white sheet approaches me. I smile as he bends down to retrieve my folder. As he lifts up his head to give it to me, I see his face. It’s the man from the window. I rip my folder from his hands and run to the bus which is waiting for me. On the way, cold tears cloud my vision, and my hands tremble. I hurry onto the vehicle.
The man is real.
I take a seat by the window and look back at him. He is gone, and a familiar chill runs up my spine. I open up the folder, and a note is placed inside. It reads: I AM ALWAYS WATCHING, and a picture is attached. The image is of me sleeping last night, I know because I recognize the pajamas I’m wearing in the printout. My alarm clock next to my bed is facing the window, and in the picture, it reads 3:00 A.M.