Absence | Teen Ink


January 31, 2018
By Wyn17 BRONZE, Wilmington, Delaware
Wyn17 BRONZE, Wilmington, Delaware
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

 The crash of something hitting the floor is what woke them up. They jolted out of bed, beads of sweat cascading down their face. Clutching their covers, they began to lower the pace of their breathing in an attempt to fall back to sleep. They decided to assume something in the back of their mind had awoken them, not the falling of an object in their bedroom. They snuggled up against their pillow, drifting off to sleep.
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As the sun rose, welcoming another day, so did Noa. They got out of bed and walked toward their dresser, reaching for the clothes they had laid out for school that day. Grasping the fabric of their tee shirt and pants, they brought them to their bed to lay down in the order they would dress themselves. Undergarments go on first, then the tee shirt, pants, and shoes. Noa always slipped into their clothes in the same order, they always had. Underwear, shirt, pants, shoes. Underwear, shirt, pants, shoes…

Everything was a pattern for Noa. Once they were dressed, they walked to their dresser once again. They brushed their hair, starting at the right side, switching to the left, then going to the back. They then put it down, brush side facing to the left, on the left side of the makeup case on their dresser, the same spot they placed it everyday. After that, they would apply deodorant. Eight swipes under each arm, no more, no less. Then perfume. Eight sprays of that, four above their head, four across their chest. Eight was Noa’s lucky number. There was no real reason why, that was just what they decided. Once they had brushed their hair and applied deodorant and perfume, they would put on their glasses. They were tortoise shell, browline style. Finally ready, they retrieved their bookbag, turning their light off and shutting their door as they left.
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Strolling home from school, Noa had one earbud in, only the right one, examining the nature surrounding them. The leaves had begun to change color, auburn and chocolate painting the trees and the grass. The air was crisp, the scent of firewood gracing Noa’s nose. Autumn was always their favorite season, the smells and scenery forever something they would look forward to. The jingling of their keys rapped against their chest to the tempo of their steps. They grabbed the mail out of the mailbox in front of their house, walked to the front door, slid their key into the lock, and entered their home.

Climbing the stairs, they went to their bedroom to place their school stuff down before going downstairs to get a snack. Once they placed their bookbag on the ground at the foot of their bed, they glanced back at their dresser to brush their hair again so they could tie it back into a bun. When they reached for their hairbrush, their hand hit the dresser instead of the familiar rubber-gripped handle. Noa looked down, confused as to where their hand must have landed, figuring they just missed the area that they thought they had placed it. The hairbrush was nowhere on their dresser. Noa’s heartbeat quickened its pace as they grew unsure as to where it could have gone. They knew they had left it where they always did, on the left side of their makeup case on their dresser. They had put it there for years, it’s not like it would have magically changed its location. Circling their bedroom, Noa searched for their hairbrush. They checked under their bed, under the covers, under their pillows, under their pajamas that they had left on their bed that morning, under their bookbag, on their desk and chair, on top of the school supplies they didn’t bring to school that day. They couldn’t find it anywhere.

As they rose to check around their closet, they tripped over something. Once they regained their composure, Noa checked to see what had made them fall. The familiar rubber-gripped handle of their hairbrush stared back at them. How they hadn’t seen that before they searched their entire bedroom, they were unsure, but at least they had found it. Gripping the hairbrush, they stumbled to their dresser and brushed their hair so they could tie it up in a bun as they had intended. As they placed the brush on their dresser, they made sure they positioned it directly where they always did, on the left side of their makeup case.
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Noa climbed up the stairs to their bedroom to get ready for bed. Their homework was finished and they had eaten dinner, all that they had to do was switch the supplies in their bookbag and put on their pajamas. They opened their door and strutted inside, placing their phone onto their desk. As they made their way over to grab their pajamas from inside of their dresser, they checked to see if their hairbrush was where they left it earlier that afternoon. It was on the dresser, but not where they placed it. It was on the other side of their makeup case. They began to feel uneasy, wondering who kept moving their things. They placed their brush back where it belonged and grabbed their pajamas to put on. Noa made their bed and slumped over to the switch to turn off their light. They slid under their covers and began to drift off into sleep.
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Awakening to the sound of their alarm clock, Noa rose out of bed. As soon as they shut off their alarm, they got up and rushed toward the light switch. They flashed the light on and checked to see if their hairbrush had been moved once again. It was where they left it the night before. Breathing a sigh of relief, Noa relaxed as they got dressed and ready for school. They put on their undergarments, then their tee shirt. They slipped into their pants, then went to grab their shoes. When they reached for their shoes, the left shoe wasn’t there. At this point, Noa was growing irritated. Whoever was moving their things really must have thought it was funny. If they came home this afternoon and something had been moved once again, they would talk to their brother and ask if he was moving their stuff. They located their other shoe, which ended up being under their bed, slid their foot inside, grabbed their bookbag, and exited their bedroom to head to school, hoping nothing would be moved again when they returned home.
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Irritated, Noa stomped into their bedroom, just ready to find something that wasn’t in its place. They placed their bookbag on the ground and began to examine the room for imperfections. Their hairbrush was in the right place, their other pairs of shoes in a neat row beside the foot of their bed, their pillows and covers exactly how they left them. Relaxing, Noa sat on their bed, believing that this odd phenomenon was over.

At dinner that night, Noa decided it was time to ask their family if they knew about the mysterious occurrences in their room.

“Kai, have you been in my room in the past few days?” Noa inquired.

“Um… no? Why?” He shook his head, looking innocent as ever.

“My stuff keeps moving around. I figured you were just playing a prank on me or something. My things are never where I left them anymore…” Noa trailed off, looking to their parents for support. They looked at their oldest child, confused gazes on their faces.

“Noa, you’re probably just forgetting where you put your stuff, don’t worry about it.” their mother sends a comforting glance their child’s way, hoping to console Noa a little bit.

“You know, you’re probably right. I guess I’m allowed to be forgetful. I shouldn’t get too worried about it.” Noa shrugged, trying to seem calm about the situation.

Dinner went on as normal, except for the inside of Noa’s mind. They were never forgetful, how could, all of a sudden, all of their things start to move and be placed in different places? Thoughts swirled through their brain about what could be causing things to be moving around their room.
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In the middle of the night, Noa began to hear noises. They laid in their bed frozen, not opening their eyes for fear of what could be in their room. It started as a low growl, mimicking the sound of a bass guitar. The pounding of their heart reverberated throughout their body. The sounds grew louder in their room, becoming a gravelly moan. Whatever was making the noises seemed to be creep to Noa. Their heart slammed against their chest, the fear inside of them becoming too much to bear. They jumped out of their bed and sprinted to their bedroom door. They threw one hand against the wall, desperately searching for the light switch, the other on the knob. Fumbling in the dark, the sounds seemed to envelope them, growing to a deafening scream. Finally, Noa found the switch and flipped it on.

Everything became silent. No sounds, nothing moving, their heart was the only thing they could hear pounding in her ear. They crept around her room, scanning for signs of someone hiding in the bedroom. There was nothing. In such a daze, Noa didn’t notice anything different about their room. Still terrified, but knowing they needed to get back to sleep, they cautiously flicked the light off and ran into their bed, hiding under the covers.
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The next morning, Noa shot out of bed. They had to know if anything had changed in her room during the night. They had been in too much of a state of shock the night before to get a good look around. They examined their bed, everything was the same. Everything was fine on their desk. Their bookbag, their shoes, their pile of school supplies, everything. Hesitantly, Noa checked their dresser. They crept towards it, dreading what they might see. Everything was different. Their makeup case, their deodorant, perfume, the clothes they laid out the night before. All of it. It appeared as though a tornado had gone over their dresser. The black jeans they had pulled out were hanging on the mirror attached to their dresser. Their shirt was nowhere in sight. Their makeup case was miraculously balanced on the top of their mirror. Their deodorant and perfume were inside of their dresser. There was only one thing in its proper place: their hairbrush. Noa began to panic. This had to be happening to the other people in the house. They ran out of their bedroom towards their mother’s. Bursting in the door, they begged for their mother to follow them into their room, explaining the situation and asking if she was experiencing the same things. Noa shot a glance up at her to see a confused and disapproving look. As they wandered into Noa’s bedroom, they reassured their mother that this was serious and they weren’t joking. Noa ran through the doorway to their dresser, arms open wide to showcase what they were talking about, eyes sealed tight so they wouldn’t have to see the complete chaos once again.

“Noa, what are you talking about? Everything is fine.”


It was all gone. The disarray of their belongings, completely rearranged to its original setup. Their makeup case was back in the center of their dresser, their deodorant and perfume in front of it, their hairbrush to the left of it, rubber-gripped handle pointing towards the case. Their clothing in the neat pile on the right-hand corner of their dresser. Everything was exactly like they had it the night before. Noa’s head began to spin. Their mother walked out of her child’s bedroom, heading back to her own. How could everything have been rearranged in under a minute when no one was awake besides Noa and their mother? They heard no footsteps besides their own as they ran to get their mother, and only Noa and their mother’s as they made their way back to their bedroom. How did this happen?
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Instead of going to school, Noa trekked to the electronics store. They didn’t care that their mother would get a call that Noa was skipping school. This was more important. This was their sanity on the line. They bought small cameras, equipped with memory cards and mounting systems. With the help of their laptop, they would rig hidden cameras all around their room and constantly keep an eye on it, determined to find who or whatever it was that was moving their things. Noa sped back to their house to set up their new hardware.

Once they arrived back at their house, Noa marched straight up to their bedroom, prepared to hook up their cameras. They placed one above their dresser, above their closet door, and above their bedroom door. They traced the wires to meet each other and run across their ceiling to where they kept their laptop. They hooked each wire into the wall and started setting up the surveillance system. Turning on every camera separately, they paced towards each one, laptop in hand, to make sure they were capturing the images they wanted. By putting every camera’s display screen into a surveillance system, Noa was able to observe every corner of their bedroom at all times. To take an extra precaution, they taped each and every one of their belongings in their place, hoping that would aid in the prevention of their things being moved around. Once they were finished, Noa headed downstairs to eat dinner and attempt to relax.
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Morning came once again, and Noa wasn’t sure if they wanted to get out of bed. She feared their belongings had been moved again and didn’t want to face it. The order and organization in their room had gone out the window, and it made them extremely uneasy. Their bedroom was their hideaway, everything being exactly where they would be able to find it. Now that someone, or something, was changing that, Noa had no safe haven, no place that was completely their and completely how they wanted it. They no longer had that place they could always go to when they needed to ground themselves and decompress. They were beginning to feel like they were going insane. Noa was desperate for the cameras to show them what was moving their things and to destroy whatever it was.
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That night, Noa checked their cameras. After a full day of school and the night before, there had to be something on them showing them what was doing this. They had woken up to their makeup case being flipped upside down, their shoes on opposite sides of the room, and their hairbrush inside of their pillow case. When they returned home from school, their deodorant and perfume were in different drawers in their dresser and their desk chair was on the other side of the room laying on its side. There had to be something on the cameras. Anything. 

Grabbing their laptop, they started up the surveillance system. The thirty seconds it took to load were possibly the longest thirty seconds of Noa’s life. Finally, the camera screens appeared on their laptop. They pulled up the footage from the night before and began watching. For hours, there was nothing. Then, the camera cut out.
When the camera cut back in, their shoes were where they found them that morning. The camera cut out again, then the makeup case was flipped upside down. It cut out again, and the deodorant and perfume disappeared from the camera’s view. Again, the camera cut out, and then the desk chair was where they found it when they returned home from school. Each time the camera cut out, their heartbeat quickened its pace. They began to panic. Noa went back in the footage trying to see if they could see anything when the cameras cut out, but nothing. Nothing. They had lost hope. Maybe they really were going insane. Nothing that they tried to do to prevent their things from being moved would work. Noa had given up.
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Days went by and Noa grew more and more tired. They stopped trying to keep their belongings where they always put them. They took down the cameras, stopped taping their things down onto their dresser. Noa had stopped caring. They thought they had gone insane and it was never going to stop.

When they walked through their bedroom, Noa expected to see everything in their room in disarray. Instead, their room looked normal. Everything seemed to be exactly where it was supposed to be. Their shoes in a line next to where their bookbag sits, their desk chair where it was supposed to be, their bed exactly how they left it. Noa ran to their dresser to see what its appearance was. Their makeup case was exactly where it belonged, their deodorant and perfume right in front of it. The only thing they couldn’t find was their hairbrush. They looked inside and underneath their dresser. Nothing. They checked under their bed and the covers and pillows. Nothing. Around their school supplies. Nothing. On their desk and the desk chair. Nothing. With their shoes. Nothing. There was one place they hadn’t looked. Her closet.

Noa looked at the door to their closet, suddenly feeling uneasy. Whatever was moving their things must have put their hairbrush in there. They had looked everywhere in their room and couldn’t find it. They walked over to the door and twisted the knob. As they opened their closet, they expected things to fall down onto them. Their closet was always a wreck, stuffed to the brim with unworn clothing and unwanted gifts. That was why they never checked it, nothing could fit in there. However, when they opened the door, all they saw was darkness. Their closet was usually hard to see into, but it looked like they were staring into the night. They stood frozen, staring at the pitch black abyss. From amidst the darkness, a hand slowly emerged, Noa’s hairbrush in its grip.

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