[Originally published September 27, 2013.]

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Jane Austen

“I’m the person who gentle folk hear after dinner, what strikes fear in their drawing rooms,” our heroine overheard the balding gentleman in the dark hat and spectacles remark to his astonished wife. “Perhaps we should take to Bath this summer,” the wife replied, changing the subject.

Edgar Allan Poe

“And so I come, heartily rapping, not at all gently tapping, tapping, upon the chamber door. Tis I,” he blustered, “and no one more.”

James Joyce

Diseased soul. Force cancer out with words. Wife trembling. Stained duvet. Meh. Bed Bath and Beyond for replacement. Scabs cracking.

—You’re the danger?

Tacos later. Dyspepsia.

—I only knock for others, I say civilly.

Hearing but not understanding. Kitchen to make eggs. Flynn wakes.

Ernest Hemingway

“I knock,” Walt said. That was all.

John Steinbeck

Toast crumbs mingled with butter and the Albuquerque sand in his beard. The auburn hairs engulfed the particles in a flame that would never breathe or grow. He had taken his glasses off but they left marks on his temples, like the skid marks of a teenage drag race in the Dog House parking lot. “I’ll be the one who’s comin’ round to ‘em,” he said, his spittle dripping into the carpet fibers.

George R.R. Martin

“I am the man who swings the sword on others," said Ser Walder, of House White. "Valar morghūlis.”

J.K. Rowling

“Do not fear for me, my dear, for my alohomora spell is the one that makes Voldemort cower,” Walterius White explained to his wife, before transforming into a scorpion and scuttling into the outlet.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

He glared into the vast obscurity of her eyes with an aggressive intimacy. He needed to hold onto this dream for which he’d paid so dearly. “Are you worried about me, dear girl? Don’t worry about old Heisenberg. He’s the fella who knocks!”

Toni Morrison

Into the fading lights of his wife’s shuttering eyes he stared. “Knocking. Answering. Death.”

Dr. Seuss

“What do you think that it could be?

A horse, a cow, a tree, a bee?
You silly lady, don’t you see?

There is just one hand that can knock

It’s not a whimdingler come out of its flock
Nor a wackzinglit in a tick-tock clock

It’s a human hand and it’s on a spree
That hand is free and belongs to me.”

Stephenie Meyer

He gazed at me with hypnotic eyes that seemed to redden by the second. It was as though he was looking past my nearly translucent skin and straight into the blood pulsating through my veins. “Skyler, I’m the one who sneaks into your friends’ homes every night. Who knocks at their doors just quietly enough that their fathers can’t hear.” I instinctively stepped backward and tripped over my bookbag.