It’s 21:30; I’m alone in my room. The doorbell rings, six or seven times in hurried succession. I freeze. I was about to go to sleep, but now I can’t. I put all my clothes back on, turn off the lights, and don’t move, try not to make a sound. I tell myself nothing bad is going to happen, but my pulse won’t slow down.
I wonder who is at the door. I don’t get surprise visitors. If the people at the door wanted to visit someone else in the house, they could ring their doorbell. If they lived somewhere in the building, they could use a key. The janitor doesn’t work that late, and besides, this was the front door of the house, not the door to my room. He knocks before entering my room, but he uses his key for the other door; so it’s not him, either. It’s way too late in the night for someone like that survey-woman who showed up earlier today. I contemplate using the intercom to ask who’s there, but I’m too scared. I pretend I’m not home.
A while later, I can hear the buzzing of the lock through the staircase, followed by voices and footsteps. I try not to breathe until there’s silence again. Then I wait for a few more minutes and go to bed, still afraid. My heart beats so violently I can feel it throughout my entire body.
Consciously, I know that I’m pretty safe where I am. Even when I go outside, my chances of getting into serious trouble are extremely slim. All this is just in my head. And I can live with an irrational fear of being robbed and beaten whenever I leave the house after dark, but when I can’t feel safe in my own home anymore, that’s another story. I need this one place to be my sanctuary, where no one can get to me, no matter what.
Maybe one day I’ll figure out how not to be so afraid of everything, and maybe then it’ll be okay when people ring my doorbell unannounced. But that day has not come yet. Right now, I’m scared to death every time that happens, and I can’t do anything about it—except whinge about it a lot, of course.