Today, I am unsettled by my loneliness.
Most days, I'm okay with it. I live with it. It hangs around and drinks all my tea and uses up all the milk and sugar. It stays up all night while I read, draped over the lampshade, buzzing. I don't really mind people, per se, I also don't really mind no people.
(Here's a secret: when I was younger I used to go to the bathroom just to chat with the showerhead.)
(Another secret: Sometimes, I still do.)
(I feel bad for entrusting you with all these secrets, you don't need to keep them.)
But back to the present and today. I was drawing over a map in my bedroom because I read about it in a book and decided that may be the cutest idea ever. I like cute.
So I sat cross-legged on my bed trying to devise a system where I could block up and redirect the roads until they all inevitably led to a Baskin Robbins. On other days I would've forced the cars down a cliff or into a lake, but today I decided to give them a break. Today, my citizens deserved ice cream.
There was a doorbell ringing. The walls here were so thin that mere sound waves could give them a good shaking sometimes. Those jocks are formidable and strong and I've long given up on trying to keep them out. So it annoyed me.
Another thing that annoyed me was the fact that I was the only one living on this floor.
'King's St. shan't be heading towards dessert today, dear subjects, not while your Queen is pissed.'
Slippers and bathrobe and cursory glance in the mirror: check, check and check. I got to the door and tentatively opened it like a housewife in a horror flick: ignoring the peephole.
I saw a back, a familiar back. Hearing the stupidly loud creak of my door, the back turned and there he was.
"Oh! 501, that was it, hah. Hi."
"Noah," I breathe out his name like I've been holding my breath for weeks. How embarrassing. "What're you doing here?"
He just sorts of opens his mouth then closes it, until: "I just wanted to, you know- drop by? I saw you at Starbucks the other day, um- and no, I didn't follow you here, that would be creepy. I live two floors below you, and one day I saw you going up the stairs and I thought 'wow! It really is a small world' and- Hi." His hands were all over the place; on his hips, in his pockets, clasping the back of his neck. They drove me crazy.
I kinda stood there, should I invite him in? No, that seems inappropriate- and I swear it's like I'm a sophomore all over again, trying to find a way to kiss someone and also trying to find a way to kiss someone and keep it a secret. You're twenty-three, get a hold of yourself, Queen Sal. You're over him, remember?
He tries, "So, how're you doing? Up to anything tonight?"
"What kind of stuff?"
"You know, trying to inflate a balloon using a bendy straw because I'm still suffering through the childhood trauma of not knowing who else put their mouth on it. "
He laughed recklessly, which is the only way I can put it. How could he do that? How could he laugh without a hand covering his nonconformist teeth? Too reckless and shameless and natural.
"I've had a lot of time to think about," I shrug, aiming for nonchalant and bored and get-the-heck-out-of-my-face-already.
If I was a decent artist, I would've sketched his face on the margins, except I'm terrible and he would look like a discount, off-brand Noah figurine that I tried to pass off as official merchandise. So use your imaginative pens boys and girls and imagine dusty hair and a crooked lip and a confusing nose that couldn't be pinned down as either attractive or unattractive. That was Noah's face feat. messy blue eyes that were either bloodshot, yellowish or both. A college student in a nutshell.
He wanted me to invite him in, the request stood upright between us. Are you going to let me in or what? He wanted to cross the barrier into my kingdom. Imagine that! I wished I had a dog then. No matter whether it was haram; I wanted something that could show him how unwanted his interloping was. Something that would shoo him off with a battle cry, preferably give his leg a bite or two.
Noah stood there awkwardly and smiled, I managed to mimic it. And then I thought that if I was watching this from third-person it'd look flirty and tense. So I cleared my throat, nodded, au revoir-ed and closed the door with a still-stupidly loud creak.
After hearing the click of his boots resounding through the hallway, I lay my burning face against the cold wood. Self-reflection slapped me across the face; I was irrational and petty. Where is it? Where is the major jerk-thing he did? When will you reveal it, Sal? We're on the edge of our seats! There is nothing. Only a deep-seated loathing that whispered in my ear one day, "Look at him, God, so annoying, look at his disgusting smile, he obviously doesn't take care of his teeth, God. (How is he so comfortable with himself?)"
Downward spirals only end when you've reached the tightest, lowest point, no room for continuation.
And the apartment was silent after that. The silence was so heavy, I had to walk through it like tar. There it was, the unsettling, disturbing, gross feeling filling my mouth with cotton and my ears with quicksand.
I'm wandering the house now. Searching for something under perpetually dirty plates and in between the ripples of the coarse, college-budget curtains. An ant would've been good. I would've enjoyed bullying an ant and then falling in love with it, as is usually the case with my relationships. Opposite extremes.
Noah ruined today. Baskin Robbins has been set on fire by a mysterious arson. International relations between the neighboring kingdoms are fragile. I'm a cruel Queen who plays with streets and lives and rules, they say, and I was totally the one who lit up the store. There's security footage, Your Majesty.