The story so far:
This keeps happening. It happened only yesterday. It's as though I am desperate for someone to come to my apartment and pick me up out of this, to change everything including me. No such luck, but I keep seeing my fantasies out of the corners of my eyes. I must see something other than the room I keep to, and so I invent things, very briefly. The room itself, the furniture, my belongings, my books: all these have been worn away by being looked at too much, and now my eyes roll over them, bored. I used to rearrange things and find prints for the walls from shops like Habitat and Ikea, but one day in a bad mood I took down everything decorative and threw it all away. Today it's the turn of my old college assignments, the files on my hulking computer all gathering little grey dusty pixels. I take a vindictive pleasure in deletedeletedeletedeletedeletedeletedelete, making my way through the folders. There are hundreds. I stop, take up my cigarette again, knowing full well that soon enough I'll put down my cigarette and continue deleting the files. I put down my cigarette and continue deleting the files. They're all gone, and I think, I need a mantra. I crawl back into bed and bang my leg angrily against the wall in three four time to send myself to sleep.
I don't remember dreaming at all, but when I woke I could still hear my leg banging on the wall - but no. My leg was still, all of me was still, and the noise was coming from my locked door. Someone was knocking, and now they were ringing the bell.
'Hey!...Hello? Hello? Open up!'
I walk slowly to answer the doorlike a man going up the aisle in a church. I open it, and outside there's a middle-aged woman. She smiles at me, inexplicably.
'Everything alright in there, son?'
'Why wouldn't it be?'
Her smile fades now she knows she's going to have to drag me every step of the way.
She stops, and lowers her voice as if that will make all this less embarrassing for both of us. In the silence I take in what she's wearing: navy blue trousers stretched tight over a dumpy body and a clean but scruffy white cotton shirt. Over that she's wearing a strange sort of tabbard just about identifiable as a uniform. This, along with the keys in her belt and the poorly highlighted hair scraped back into a serviceable ponytail, tells me she's some sort of cleaning lady, or custodian. The final, concluding piece of evidence: her nametag says Maureen.
I say: 'Maureen, nothing's the matter. Who've you been speaking to?'
'People,' she says vaguely. 'In the other apartments. I talk to them, they're friendly. They all know each other, except you.'
They're friendly. My eyes sting at this, and I'm ashamed of being upset at her accusation. I could not be less ashamed of my being unfriendly.