Rock And Roll Through Paper Walls

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about two neighbors who cannot stand each other.... view prompt


Contemporary Friendship Teens & Young Adult

Sleep has never come easy to me. Insomnia is a gentle demon who whispers cruel nothings in my absent ears. When I close my eyes when the lights are off and there is no sunlight left in the sky to seep through my apartment window and remind me of how alone I am. Those are the times when my gentle demon invites his friend's anxiety and distraction to keep me and sleep far apart. Anxiety tickles my feet and releases spiders onto my body that crawl into my ears and swim through my veins. Anxiety reminds me of everything I spent every waking hour trying to forget, it tells me the harsh reality of how everyone truly views me and it cries silent sobs curled at my feet like a ghastly cat straight from hades garden. Distraction is a little nicer. Distraction wants to be away from this torture as much as I do. It encourages me to finish that last homework question that I was too tired to complete or take up knitting. So you see how sleep and I may not get along. We are star-crossed lovers who just can’t seem to reach each other. Between us is a pool of nerves and guilt that eat away at anything it touches. 

This problem only worsened after the struggling musician in the apartment next door moved in. Daniel plays guitar night and day. I don’t understand how he can have time for anything else. He is absolutely insufferable and that is something that I have let him know on numerous occasions. These occasions include every single time I have to interact with him. I might have found him slightly more tolerable if I was able to get away from him more but he isn’t only my neighbor he's also my classmate and peer. We run in all the same friend groups and by some horrendous coincidence, one of my best friends just so happens to be his older brother. Oh, and did I mention Danieli's blonde? Because he is -of course, he is- and it is the sole reason I now hate all blonde people.

It is currently 1:00 am on a Mondy morning and I am genuinely considering bashing my head into the wall just so he can hear what the awful repetitive sound is doing to me. Although I would much rather head next door and smash his guitar into pieces just to make him stop. He's been playing a small medley over… and over… and over again for the past three hours, I don’t know how he can stand it. He’s a perfectionist I know that, and I know he won’t stop this ridiculous sound until it’s exactly how he wants it. He does this with everything in his life, so much so that I’ve begun to pick up on the little behaviors he exhibits when things aren't going the way he wants. I could imagine him now running his hands through his hair in frustration and chugging down glasses of water. It’s a weird habit - almost like he’s trying to physically drown the stress- but it was one he possessed nonetheless.

My simmering rage begins to be overcome by relief as the sound ceases. Has he finally perfected it? Have his torturous fingers found solace in a perfect melody at last? I breathe a sigh of relief and turn onto my back closing my eyes.

The light and airy sound of a cello sound through the thin paper walls. 

The last thought to enter my mind before I stormed into the hallway was ‘I’m going to destroy that modern wooden torture device’.

I banged on his apartment door for a solid minute before he answered it. He knows it’s me. He’s taking his time. I’m the only person who can really hear him, he’s at the end of the hall and I’m the only apartment he connects to. He’s making me knock for as long as possible out of spite. Or maybe he just hopes I’ll go away. When the door finally opens he’s smirking.

I see red.

It takes all of my willpower and some extra to not break every last bone and tendon that allow his fingers to function. He crosses his arms and raises his eyebrows in question as he leans against the door frame.

“Does it ever occur to you that some people don’t want their ears to bleed for three consecutive hours?” I ask him sarcastically

He doesn’t respond he only rolls his eyes and turns around walking back into his apartment. If he touches that damn cello of nightmares right now I will-

“Sorry, was it bothering you?” He asks. The audacity! Yes! Why wouldn’t it be bothering me?

I look at him speechless at the question. This is what I mean by insufferable blondes.

“Don’t ask stupid questions, Daniel.” I spit following him into his apartment kitchen. 

“Do you want tea?” He asks-ignoring my last statement-.

I sighed sitting down at the kitchen island in annoyance “Stupid questions” I reiterate. This is a frequent conversation for us. At a minimum of once a week, Danel will do something to get on my nerves. I’ll storm over here to yell at him, I’ll barely get any yelling done and then he’ll make me tea because he knows it calms me down. The little menace.

He opens a squeaky wooden cupboard and pulls out two white mugs. He places them beside the kettle of already boiled water (I don’t know how he always knows how to boil it at the right time) and places two peppermint tea bags into the mugs. 

“I hate you,” I say with a scowl as he begins to pour in the hot water. 

“I know” He responds with a smile. 

He puts the mugs in front of us and I sip away in angry silence. The peppermint leaks into my blood like a calming medicine. It feels nice and it relaxes me- like always- bit by bit.

Bit by bit my fingers lose tension as my grip on the mug loosens.

Bit by bit my hatred for Daniel Montgomery ebbs and flows out of me like hot water from a kettle.

I yawn and let my face rest on my hand as I play with the teabag.“Why do you torture me daily?” I ask him frowning

He rolls his eyes “It does not torture you love having something to get mad at” 

“Do you what else I love?” I ask him 

“Me?” He smiles


“Oh please,” he rolls his eyes “You don’t sleep either way”

“Yeah because my neighbor is a music enthusiast with a passion for nightly torture!” I exclaim.

“You told me that music helps you sleep” 

I stare incredulously at him as I vaguely remember back in January when I told our friend Rose how sometimes it’s easiest to sleep with music to distract you or calm you down. I didn’t think he was listening. I barely even remember him being there.

I scoff “ Yeah maybe classical but rock and roll aren’t exactly soothing”.


“Okay?” I reiterate

“Okay. No more rock and roll” He explains. I’m going to scream.

I groan “Is silence just too much to ask!”

He shrugs frowning “If I was quiet then what would you have to come over and yell at me about over tea?” 

“If I come over for tea and yell anyways will you keep the nightly instrumentals to a minimum?” I ask hopefully.

He considers it. “Okay”



“That’s all it took?”

He shrugged -once again- picking up our empty mugs “ We should probably get to bed it’s getting late.”

There's no way that was all it took to shut him up. This is just unreal. He walked me to the door and I returned back to my apartment in disbelief. It's quiet. So quiet. It’s kind of weird. 

Sleep has never come easy to me. As I try to fall asleep that night the quiet begins to eat away at me, momentarily as distraction consumes me with thoughts of Daniel Montgomery I think about the guitar sitting in the back of my closet. It doesn’t take much convincing before I have my back against the wall that separates us from each other and I begin to play. loudly.

May 30, 2022 16:52

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Kevin Marlow
02:28 Jun 05, 2022

There is no other option but for them to start a band.


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Jeannette Miller
14:32 Jun 04, 2022

I like the premise and the characters. What made going next door to confront the neighbor different this time for him to change? A bit heavy with similes in the first paragraph; but , overall a good story :) Good job!


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