[…] I felt that by simply lying there in my warm bathwater I was part of the house’s complex circulation which, despite its whole range of rattles and shudders, continued to function in a most admirable way.
I was still lying in the happy stupor when I heard a tap-tap-tapping come down the corridor. I recognized it straight away as the footfalls of some long-lost loved one — of some errant friend. Emoticons which had lain dormant for many years rose up in me, filled me and I was altogether very glad. The footsteps came closer and closer and with each one I became gladder still. Then they were right outside the bathroom door and on the verge of entering. With a full heart I waited, breathless, but they simply would not come in. They fell insistently — tap … tap … tap …
‘Open the door,’ I think I said.
I opened my eyes and watched as the footsteps slowly transformed themselves into the sound of a dripping tap. As each drop hit the water it rang out, and sent a series of ripples sweeping across the surface. I clambered from the bath, still groggy, and all but threw myself at the door, but before my hand had even reached the handle I knew I would find nobody there.
Returned to my bath and sat stewing in it for quite a while, tearful at my failure to be reunited with the owner of the footsteps, yet curious to know whose they might have been.
—Mick Jackson (The Underground Man)