(First, before I start my story: I read through most of today’s submissions and, can I say, I’m surprised there’s not an Eddie Izzard fan among us. Remember “cake or death?” )
Terra stepped back out into the hall and out of impulse, double checked the number on the door. Of course it was her apartment. Her key would not have worked if it wasn’t.
“Oh, there you are! This is fantastic cake, honey!” The woman was looking at her eagerly. The man placed his empty plate on the coffee table and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Absolutely!” he replied.
“Don’t just stand in the hall, come in! You want a piece?” The woman got up and walked to the kitchen.
Terra walked cautiously in and set her bag and coat on her desk. The man smiled pleasantly at her. “Have a good day?” he asked.
“Uh, yes. I did…who…”
The woman came back into the living room with a slice of cake and handed it to Terra. “Oh, no, thanks,” Terra protested, “ I…”
“Oh, come on, don’t give me that. Eat it!” the woman insisted.
“Excuse me?!” Terra snapped back. “I don’t want any cake….who…I’m… what are you…How the hell did you get into my place?!” Terra was now standing almost toe to toe with the woman. The woman’s eyes were frantic with confusion and a little bit of fear.
The man huffed, “Well, you didn’t make it easy, that’s for sure. We had to find the manager.”
Terra was totally baffled. “Easy? WHAT?!” She took a couple of aggressive steps toward him. “I don’t know you people. What the hell are you doing here?” The couple exchanged confused looks and the three of them stood there for what seemed like a long while in silence
“You have to leave! NOW!” Terra yelled in a loud voice that startled even her and jabbed her finger toward the door. “OUT!”
The woman turned and went back into the kitchen. Terra heard her throw the plate with the slice of cake she had been holding into the sink. She came back out, and in a low, angry tone that sounded almost like a growl announced to the man that they were leaving. The man gave Terra a scowl, but for some reason he also looked surprisingly hurt. The man and woman wordlessly walked out of the apartment and slammed the door behind them. The whole thing was the most mystifying thing Terra had ever encountered.
Over the next couple of days Terra’s repeated efforts to contact the building manager to find out why he let total strangers into her apartment went unanswered. She went through all her belongings to see if anything was missing. She debated whether she should file a report with the police, but decided she should definitely file a complaint about the manager. She changed the lock (to hell with permission from management) and before leaving for work, she laid little traps; items that could be easily disturbed if someone opened a drawer, or closet door, or sat on the couch, anything to prove that someone had broken in. The next several nights she had the worst time getting to sleep.
Later, over the weekend in the laundry room she overheard one of the tenants talking to another.
“I finally found his grandparents at a hotel downtown.”
“But you left them a key under your mat, you said,” replied the other tenant.
“That’s just it! It was still there, but they insisted they were at my place, with me! And that I threw them out! And, get this: they said they didn’t find any key and so had to get the manager to let them in.”
“Have you talked to the manager?”
“No, he hasn’t returned my calls. God, they were so pissed, they hung up on me! Now they won’t even answer the phone. John’s trying to talk to them. It’s just so screwed up!”
Terra shyly walked over and interrupted. “Sorry, um,” and then gave out a laugh and shook her head. “Yeah. I know what happened.