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Every few minutes, I look out the kitchen window.

Every few minutes, I look out the kitchen window to see if I can see him, to see how he is.

I could go downstairs, knock on his door, offer something… but I don’t. I just stand at my window and wait for him to bring a dirty dish to the sink, to stand at his stove and make tea or soup, something warm, something healing.

The soft light of a lamp is always on in his kitchen.

*

When I came home from the post office with Mariel, two officers were sitting in their cruiser, which was double parked behind the ambulance.

There was blood on the floor of the lobby. Not a pool of blood, but not drops, either. Tony stood next to it, smoking a Marlboro. “Don’t let the baby near it,” he tells me.

He often tells me the obvious.

*

There’s blood on the stairs and I can’t avoid stepping in it. It’s on the wall, too, a different pattern, a right hand that drew the blood like a trail while it was looking for support. Even after the police leave and Tony can clean up the blood on the floor with Clorox I can smell on the third floor, the blood on the wall will still be there.

I wonder when someone will notice and clean it up.

I wonder if I should.

*

#22–that’s how Tony talks about every tenant, by apartment number, not name–moved in a couple months ago with his partner. I don’t know their names and I don’t see them often. We’ve said hi a few times when not doing so would be rude.

*

“He said two guys followed him into the building and beat the shit out of him. Took his wallet. Took his phone. The neighbors on the first floor were home, those fucking idiots, and they didn’t even call the police. He crawled up the stairs himself.”

*

When I am not looking out the kitchen window, looking for him, I am looking out the window in the living room, the one that looked out onto a large tree that workers came to cut down back in November. It took them two weeks. That’s how deep and far the roots had spread. I am looking at the moon arcing across the sky. In a few hours, a lunar eclipse will begin. Forecasters say that between 1:30 AM, when it starts, and 5:00 AM, when it peaks, the moon will become a glowing red ball. Teo, from apartment 35, doesn’t like it at all. “They say the eclipse causes disasters,” she tells me, when I ask if she’ll go to the roof with us to see it. She shudders and draws her arms close to her chest. Then, she crosses the hall and goes home to cook.

*

We wake up at 1:38 and Francisco goes up to the roof with his camera. He shows me the photos, the shadow moving over the moon like a thin, dark piece of parchment. By the time we go down to the street together, the moon is beginning to turn red. We don’t wait for the peak.

I check the kitchen window one more time.

The light is out.

*

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11 responses »

  1. Julie, I loved the flow/structure of this piece. The way it’s written, it forces you to read every word and let each section resonate before moving on to the next.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Heather. It was one of those pieces I had to write, even if the “only” place it would end up was my blog. I’m glad to know it was accessible to someone other than me. 😉

      Reply
  2. Thanks for this Julie. It’s beautiful. Something to aspire to.

    Reply
  3. This is really well done, I especially like the red/blood theme. Also, the deep roots of the tree made me think of the roots of violence etc., and I don’t know if it was intentional, but I loved that my mind went directly to that connection…fantastic.

    Reply
    • Alyssa-

      Glad you liked it! I’ve been trying to work the window/tree/roots into something other than a tweet since the workers finished cutting it down, and it finally found its place in this. It feels totally obvious now, but when I wrote this, I wasn’t thinking about the connection of violence. And yet, I definitely can recognize now that was my unconscious feeling- that violence has come to surround the building where I live in disturbing and different ways over the past couple months. There are other episodes and details that didn’t make it into this piece–including a closer neighbor being beaten by her husband; they simply didn’t fit.

      Reply
  4. This sincerely breaks my heart a little.

    Reply
  5. Super powerful, Julie. I hope your neighbor’s okay.

    Reply
  6. Powerful piece. The flow was totally on point.

    Reply

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