My street had a rough adolescence. It smoked too much, popped its zits, and fornicated like all the other roads, but unfortunately, no one cared to fix its pockmarked, weary face, leaving it with evidence of its many trials and a gravelly expression speaking of despair and surrender to failure. Just a bit of antibiotics or a change in diet would have been helpful in preventing this, but it’s too late for that now. Take a turn down that post-puberty wasteland and watch your step.
Once you reach the green fire hydrant, look to the right. See the bright yellow door? It’s a relic of the happier, healthier days of this street. The tattoo it doesn’t regret. It’s locked, but you can reach in through the broken window. I’m inside.
It’s likely you will find a couple making out on the steps. Ignore them. Quickly. It escalates. Trust me. Keep walking. Quickly. No. Quicker.
Speed it up, darn it!
You will notice the distinct smell of urine. Not cat. That would be due to the apartment hermit, Freia. She doesn’t come out very often, but we frequently find a note slipped under the door into the hallway expressing her strong distaste for dragon meat. No one is quite sure what’s going on.
To the left is the scientist. We call him that due to the frequent explosions and yelling. Witnesses have seen two women leaving his apartment many mornings, so we’re not sure what’s going on there either.
When I say “we”, I refer to myself and to the family of ten behind the last door on the right. They fit somehow. Mom is ragged, dad is worn, and between the two of them they make it work like a ragged, worn coat in a Minnesota winter. They’re the best of the bunch here. She shares vegan goulash with me when she makes it.
The last door on the left leads to an empty room with orange shag carpet adorned by a large red stain. No one wants to live there because, apparently, even now, there are a lot of superstitious people who refuse to believe the landlady when she says, “It’s a wine stain, bless it all! A wine stain!”
I don’t believe her either.
Take a step inside the room at the end of the hallway. Don’t worry. I won’t bite hard. The dentist used to shave my teeth when I was a kid, so, y’know . . .
I’m there at the sink, washing dishes, and no, that’s not apple juice I’m drinking between rinses. See the belly? Eight months pregnant. See the tears? Yeah.
Now, before you get too judgmental—’cause I know what you’re thinking—let me tell you my story . . .