Perfection-- A Gripping Psychological Short Story Thriller by Tina Tolora
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
It had been only a week since I had moved into my new apartment, and it already felt like home. I loved coming back to the comfortable furniture, bright walls, wide windows, and the beams of sunlight always reaching through. The neighbors were very welcoming too. The old lady from the first floor made a pie every week, bringing me a huge piece of it. The family below me with three kids was always quiet, the kids - well behaved, polite. The only strange thing was the apartment facing mine. I had never seen the neighbor coming out or going in. But I could notice the rag on the doorway moving, traces of footsteps on it. So someone lived there, but I had never caught a glimpse of them.
It was early in the morning, and I was leaving for work when I saw the "creepy apartment" door opening. I froze and fixed my eyes on it, breathing in deeply as an eerie feeling crawled from the back of my head. I stood there, waiting to see an older man with a bloody knife or a bag of body parts. The door was creaking, opening so slowly as if I was in a movie that someone had slowed down. Finally, a shadow appeared, and then the person. My eyes enlarged to the sizes of discos from surprise and shock. Instead of a murderer, a creepy older man, a young girl walked out, locking the door. She moved gently; her hand touched the door handle as if she was holding a marble piece. The long, blonde hair was touching her waist, and the slim arms were visible from her see-through white, silky shirt. She couldn't notice my presence, so I coughed. The girl jumped up from alarm and then put her palm on her chest with a smile.
"You scared me," she said, showing her perfect teeth.
Her voice sounded smooth but low as if coming from a depth of an ocean. She sounded like a mermaid, luring the sea creatures to her cave. The dark blue, a bit teary eyes glimmered as she smiled even wider. Little dimples appeared on her cheeks, flushed in soft pink.
"Hello," I finally opened my mouth, "I'm your new neighbor," I said and drew near, spreading my hand, "Mike."
"Nice to meet you, Mike," the girl shook my hand, "I'm Liza."
I smiled, too, as I observed her even closer. The long lashes created shadows on her eyelids as she lowered them, putting her hair behind the ear. She wore no jewelry and very minimal makeup but god, I could swear, I had never seen someone beautiful. My heart skipped a bit as she giggled.
"Why are you staring?" she asked, still giggling.
I shook my head to revive myself, secretly pinching my skin.
"Oh, sorry," I said and scratched my head, "got lost in thoughts."
Liza smiled and stepped toward the stairs.
"I'll see you around, Mike," she said and waved, disappearing from my sight.
"Yes, of course, sure..." I mumbled, fascinated by her.
After work, I drove to the university, knocking on the door of one of my professors. As I heard "come in," I peeked inside and then walked.
"Hello, professor Jones," I said and shook her hand.
Professor smiled warmly as her full lips split, and her eyes sparkled. She sat down and pointed at the chair across her, putting her chin on her hands, staring at me with loving eyes. But don't get me wrong, she watched me with motherly love. Mrs. Jones was 20 years older than me, and she openly expressed her love for her students. For a stranger's eyes, it might come off weird, but for us - who knew her well - it was nothing but friendship and respect.
"So, Mike, I read your paper," said Mrs. Jones and opened the drawer of the desk, rummaging through the files.
While doing so, I observed her: despite the wrinkles - some from age, some from worry - Mrs. Jones looked very attractive. The stanza of exhaustion on her forehead, between the brows, was now hiding behind the thick frame of her glasses.
She finally took out my paper, putting it down before me. My heart started racing, waiting for criticism. She was a great professor, but at the same time, very detailed, very strict when it came to writing.
"What did you think?" I asked and felt my voice breaking from anxiety.
Mrs. Jones sighed.
"I loved it, Mike," she said and smiled, "it's the best piece you've ever created."
I breathed out from relief and then laughed from elation.
"Really?" I asked and looked down on the paper, with a few red lines here and there.
"Yes, really," Mrs. Jones replied, "It needs some corrections but not much."
I laughed again, as happiness expressed itself on my face: I felt my cheeks blushing, and my smile widening from ear to ear.
"Well done, Mike," Mrs. Jones said and looked at me. Her eyes sparkled, and I knew that she was genuinely proud of me, "soon, you'll write an exceptional novel."
I left her office with a heart full of excitement, pride, joy. I couldn't help myself but hum and jump over the steps down the stairs. I walked into the campus cafeteria, treating myself to pancakes and hot coffee.
As I was eating, sinking into my thoughts about plans and coming up with the plot for my novel, I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. I looked back, seeing Jessy, my ex-girlfriend who I had broken up with a year ago, but we remained friends.
"Hey, Jess!" I stood up, hugging her, "haven't seen you since the holidays."
Jess wound her arms around me.
"Yeah, I was back home for a few weeks, helping my mom with the house and staff," she said and sat down next to me.
"I see," I replied and offered a pancake, but Jessy shook her head, "how's she?"
"She's fine," Jessy said and sipped a coffee from my cup, "she's still asking about you."
"Say hello for me next time you see her," I said.
We talked about her new job and my future novel, and we didn't even realize how the dark set in. Hours passed as we talked, fully immersed in the conversation. I loved talking to Jessy; she was a great talker and even a greater listener. Despite being in a romantic relationship for two years, this didn't hinder us from being good friends. I considered her one of my closest people.
I returned home at about ten in the afternoon. As I was unlocking the door, I heard rustling from the back. I turned around and saw Liza coming out of her room with a trash bag in her hand. As she noticed me, she smiled sweetly. Now she wore a plain hoodie, and her hair was tied up, but she still looked gorgeous.
"Hi," she said.
"Hey," I replied a bit loudly.
I was excited and happy that day, so I had gained courage and decided to ask her out.
"You look happy," she said, and I realized I hadn't stopped smiling for a few minutes.
"Yes," I replied, "I got great news today."
"Really?" She seemed interested, "what are the news?"
"I'll tell you," I said and lowered my voice to sound a bit flirtatious, "tomorrow, over coffee."
"Okay," she said, "I'll be ready at 8."
I nodded and walked into my apartment as Liza walked down to take out the trash.
Wow, this day can't get any better!
I thought and sprawled on my bed.
The next day I knocked on her door at precisely 8 pm, and she immediately opened up, dressed in a flowy red dress. We drove to one of the restaurants nearby instead of coffee, ordered steaks, and red wine. Hours passed, and I couldn't stop laughing at her jokes.
She is perfect! The thought crossed my mind; She's beautiful, funny, smart. What else could you want from your future wife?
"I had a great time today," she said as we returned.
Liza leaned on her doorway and then toward me. Our lips touched like two magnets attracting each other. Kissing her felt as if snowflakes were falling on my lips. Then she leaned back, stepping into her apartment.
"I'll see you tomorrow," she said and shut the door, leaving me dumbfounded from amazement.
Two weeks passed, and we met every day, finally making our relationship official. Liza was everything I've ever wanted. Every time I met her, my worries would fade away instantly. She made all the darkness disappear and highlight the joys of everyday life. The world melted in her eyes when she smiled. And I loved her; I loved her with all my heart. Or more like, I loved the version of her that she showed me.
One day she visited me at the University, and we decided to have lunch in the cafeteria. I waited at the table as Liza showed up with pancakes and a mug of coffee.
"How did you know I wanted pancakes?" I asked from surprise and delight.
"Because I know you," Liza replied and gently kissed me.
"How come you know so much about me, and I know nothing about you?" I asked and staffed my mouth.
She just smiled and caressed my heart. I noticed she was avoiding the question.
Suddenly I saw Jessy coming toward us. I stood up and greeted her, then introduced the girls to each other. They immediately clicked, starting talking about the university. Liza didn't seem to be even bothered by the fact that Jessy used to be my girlfriend. Suddenly Jessy grabbed my coffee mug and sipped it, regretting behavior in a second
"I'm so sorry," Jessy apologized for more to Liza than to me, "it's an old habit from the time we were together."
Liza smiled and waved her hand.
"It's okay," she said sweetly, "I understand."
When we got back home, I was waiting for Liza to bring up Jessy and her odd behavior. She didn't even say a word other than how lovely Jessy was.
Liza's just perfect! I thought again.
A few days passed, and Liza visited me at my university again. As I walked out of my last class, I saw her standing in the hallway.
"How did you know when are my classes finished?" I asked and kissed her.
"You mentioned it a while ago," she said.
I didn't remember mentioning anything about it, but I didn't think much of it; I was just happy that my girlfriend was so considerate.
"Mike," I heard a voice seeing Mrs. Jones
"Hello, professor Jones," I greeted her and introduced Liza. They shook hands.
"You are very lucky, Liza," said the professor, "your boyfriend soon will be a famous writer."
Mrs. Jones tapped on my arm and smiled. I noticed Liza's eyes following the movement of Mrs. Jones's hand as she touched me.
"I'll see you tomorrow," said the professor and left.
"Is she so passionate about every student?" Liza asked but with a smile, no trace of jealousy on her face, but her voice seemed robotic, programmed.
"Yeah, she is like this with everyone," I replied.
"I see," Liza mumbled and then grabbed my hand, "let's go eat ice cream."
Everything seemed perfect. Life seemed perfect. Everything was going great at work, university, and especially relationships. I was head over hills for Liza.
One day at the school cafeteria, I saw Jessy, and I waved at her, calling.
As soon as she saw me, her smile melted. She glared at me for a second, then looked down and rushed out of the cafeteria. I was shocked and quickly followed her. She was almost running, and I had to grab her arm to stop her.
"Jessy!" I couldn't believe what was happening, "What's going on? Why are you avoiding me?"
Jessy looked up, and her gaze pierced my eyes. I've never seen the expression on her face. She was enraged, looking at me with disgust.
"Don't touch me!" she screamed and stepped back.
A few heads turned toward us, and I let go of her hand.
"Jessy, please, what's going on? Did I do something to upset you?" I was pleading.
"Yes, you did, Mike! You are an asshole! I've never known the real you," Jessy sobbed and ran away, leaving me behind, frozen from shock.
I couldn't understand what had happened during those few days that Jessy started hating me. I couldn't remember any of the actions that could make her despise me. I didn't want to lose her; I didn't want to lose my friend.
Liza seemed as shocked as me when I told her about this strange incident.
"Maybe she's jealous," Liza said, "maybe she still loves you and can't take that you're not hers, but mine. You know the saying," if I can't have you, no one can." "
I shrugged my shoulders.
The next day I had a class with Mrs. Jones. I stepped inside with a smile, waiting for the professor to welcome me with a smile too. But as she saw me, her brows creased, and she pointed at the door.
"You can't attend my class, Mike," she said with a stern voice, "wait for me in my office."
"What?" I couldn't believe my ears, "what did I do?"
"Do as I said!" she said, even louder.
I looked at the students, staring at me with curiosity, stepped back, and left the room.
I waited for two hours while my heart beat rapidly, and I picked at my skin from nervousness. Mrs. Jones walked in and slammed the door. She didn't sit, looking down at me.
"I never thought you could do this," she said.
I read the disappointment on her face.
"What did I do?!" now I couldn't control my emotions, "can someone please tell me what I did?!"
"Stop pretending, Mike!"
"I'm not! Please tell me what you're talking about!"
"Your story! It's not yours!" Mrs. Jones shouted.
I felt blood rushing up to my head, boiling in my veins.
"You are a plagiarist! It's someone else's story!"
I buried my face in my hands and then sighed.
"How can you believe something like that? Of course, it's my story, everything's mine: plot, characters, every sentence!"
Mrs. Jones opened the door.
"Leave Mike and be thankful that I'm the only one who knows this."
"Leave!" she interrupted and screamed.
What else could I say? I looked at her one last time and left, hearing the door shutting behind my back.
A few days passed, and I had no one but Liza. She took care of me, making me food, doing my laundry, talking, and listening. But I missed Jessy, and I wanted to attend Mrs. Jones's classes. I had never thought these two could hate me so much.
One day when Liza was out to the grocery store, I was searching for my shirt.
I might have left it at Liza's, I thought.
I looked around and saw the key lying on my bed. I took it and walked into Liza's apartment.
"I'm sure she doesn't mind," I told myself.
As I walked in, I started searching for my shirt, rummaging through the drawers in her room. Suddenly a yellow folder thing by under the clothes. I took it out seeing a notebook.
"This must be her diary," I said and smiled, "I won't read; I'll just take a look."
As I flipped the first page, I saw my name, written in large, red letters. I curved my brows from surprise and flipped another page, reading: "Mike's favorite food." two pages were full of the food names. I scanned again now, seeing "Mike's favorite books."
How does she know all these? I've never talked about all of these books.
Other pages were also filled with facts about me. I felt my heart racing.
Did she stalk me? How does she know all of these?
And there were pictures of Jessy and me two years ago.
But I hid these pictures from my timeline! How the hell does she have this?
And finally, I read the page: "How to get rid of Jessy: 1. Tell her that while they were together Mike was cheating on her with me."
I jumped up in horror. My whole body got covered in the sweat of dread. I finally flipped the last page, reading: "How to get rid of the professor: 1. Tell her that I was the one who wrote Mike's story."
This was the last drop of my patience as I threw all the clothes out of the drawers, searching if Liza had more notebooks about me. There they were, three of them, but all three had different names: Josh, Nick, Dave. These notebooks seemed old; the pages had turned yellow. The oldest was Dave's. But all these notebooks - including mine - were similar: facts and plans of destroying every relationship we had, only leaving the one with herself - Liza.
I stepped back. My knees were shaking, my hands - trembling. Liza had ruined each of these people's lives. She had stalked, searched, planned to make us all alone so that we would depend on her and no one else. She wanted us all for herself, like little puppies following her around with a wagging tail.
She's a psychopath! The thoughts lingered; she made Jessy and Mrs. Jones hate me. She made up those stories to ruin my life!
I turned around, seeing Liza at the doorway. The bag of groceries had fallen on the floor, and she stood frozen, comprehending the situation.
"Mike, please," she mumbled, "I can explain."
But I pushed her away, running out.
I moved out the next day. As I was taking the last box out, I saw Liza looking at me from the window. I looked at her too: she didn't seem happy or sad; she looked apathetic as if nothing had happened. She was staring at me with blank eyes. I took my eyes off of her and got in my car. I was sure that she would soon find a new victim, but I wouldn't get caught in her trap again.