My phone buzzes, and I hold my breath to better hear the next ¼ of a second. If it stops in that time, then it's a text or a notification, and I'm safe. If it keeps buzzing, it's a phone call, and that's a Problem.

When I was a kid, I was really careful about following the rules. All of them:

  • Don't go in through the out door (even if they're double doors).
  • Correct people when they see your hair and call you a girl.
  • Go to university.
  • Go to a second university after you wash out the first time.
  • Register for fewer credits when your failing grades don't allow you to be full time.
  • Lacking plans for non-academic life, keep attending that last lingering music history class even after the payment deadline passes and you get dropped.

Please let me know what number you'll call from so I don't accidentally send it to voice mail.

My overriding goal is to evade detection. From collectors, from police, from professional recognition, from the telescoping eye that zeroes in on rule-breakers, from artistic notariety, from Them.

When the doorbell rings I play dead. When they show up in person is when I'm really in trouble. It means I have their attention. I need to not be here. I need to carefully put down this dish without being heard. Suspend my existance until danger passes.

In retrospect, the person at the door was probably canvasing my building to remind people to vote in the local election. I still wouldn't have opened the door if I had known. When I knew it was Jehova's Witness, I still just curled up behind the door, silently waiting for them to leave.

One call from the same unknown number from a day ago. Is it a response to the résumés I sent out to recruiters just a few days ago? There's no way to know, I think, as I stare at my phone, willing the buzzing to stop.

I pay my rent every month, and every day I'm still waiting for the eviction notice I won't know how to fight.

There's rules and there's rules, and I know in my heart that to ward off the inevitable falling through the cracks I simply have to follow them. And if I don't, then I'll pretend nobody notices until they're knocking down my door.

Apparently I'm carrying something with me.