Three Knocks on the Door by Chiaztolite


The wood floor vibrated gently beneath Sesshōmaru as he lay on the ground, curled up in a fetal position. There were ringing in his ears as he panted, striving to slow his galloping heartbeats into something more like a canter.

He could hear the voices of his neighbours through his door. They were undoubtedly on their way out to some exciting destination to partake in the city’s delights as he never could.

The plan was to go out of his apartment to the convenience store and fetch some milk. He had forgotten to order it with the rest of his groceries, and he knew Kagome liked her tea with milk.

The convenience store was at the bottom of his apartment building, literally ten steps away from the main entrance. And yet, it might as well be miles away. He could not even make himself turn the doorknob to open his apartment door.

The moment his fingers had touched the cold metal, nausea washed over him in overwhelming waves. He was surprised that he did not hurl the contents of his stomach all over the floor.

It would not have been the first time he soiled himself thus.

He closed his eyes. The floor felt good underneath him. He relished the coolness of the wood against his cheek.

Sometimes, when he needed to calm down, he thought of himself as a buoy floating in an endless ocean. Weightless, aimless. He imagined the whole city as an entire ocean, and he was nothing but one drop of water. But that image always pushed him into a state of panic. He would much rather be the buoy — at least it floated.

A set of familiar footsteps had him shifting. He could feel the cadence of her sashay on the wood floor beneath his cheek. A few seconds later: three knocks on the door.

“Sesshōmaru?” He heard her voice through the door. “Sessh? Are you there?”

Kagome… He knew his lips were moving but did his voice come out? He tried again:


He tried to lift himself, but the room spun before his eyes. He fell back onto the ground with a thud. Distantly, as the roaring in his ears continued, he thought: at least he made a noise to let her know he was there, just on the other side of the door.

Eyes still shut tight, he imagined her on the opposite side: on her knees, perhaps wearing her favourite yellow trench coat over her cream sweater dress. He could faintly smell the buttery pastries she brought as part of their Saturday morning ritual.  

“Sesshōmaru, can you play the song?” Her voice called out to him, keeping him grounded. “It’ll help you calm down.”

The song. Slowly, he opened his eyes. The glare of the overhead light in his foyer nearly blinded him, but he had no strength to lift his arm to shield his vision.

He heard Kagome again, her voice pleading now: “Please. I need to know that you’re alright.” 

His smartphone had fallen somewhere near his hips, and he slowly searched for it. Cold relief washed over him when his fingertips found it. Then, with damp, clammy fingers, he took hold of it, gripping it so tightly he had to remind himself to not crush that fragile piece of modern technology.

By this point, he knew how to locate the song within a couple of taps. In a few short seconds, the first few bars of Ravel’s ‘Miroirs: Une Barque sur l’ocean’ filled the emptiness of his apartment. It was a piano solo that always evoked the image of a small boat’s journey across the perilous ocean, and those images never failed to calm him down,

His breathing slowly deepened. The pain between his ribs began to lessen.

“There you go.” He heard her gentle voice from behind the door. “There you go. You’re alright now.”

He began to chuckle, but his chest hurt too much to continue. His lungs were still struggling to gather enough air for him to function properly. If Kagome had not been here to remind him about the song, he would have lain on the floor in pain for a few more hours.

Nevertheless, he knew: she’d always understood what was good for him.


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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