“Sometimes” – A Short Story by Pepper O’Brien

I live on the first floor of my apartment building. This usually means that I have to keep the curtains drawn so that no one peeks in and sees that I’ve ordered Pad Thai for the third night this week. It usually also means that I hear every coming and going of every one of my neighbors on the second, third, and fourth floors of said building.

I sometimes cook my own dinner. I sometimes have my headphones on to block out the comings and goings of my fellow apartment dwellers.

I sometimes leave the curtains wide open.

I do this in spite of my crippling anxiety that someone somewhere will get the impression that my window is easy enough to break into and that perhaps my laptop is worth more than it actually is.

I leave the curtains open so that I can curl up on my couch in a patch of sunlight and enjoy my third cup of coffee with too much hazelnut soy milk creamer. I leave my curtains open so that I can feel the warm anticipation of a coming thunderstorm flow through my open window.

I leave my curtains open in the hopes that maybe someone somewhere will see that I am happy staying in on Friday evenings. That I am comfortable in my own company with little expectation that anyone will join me.

Occasionally, I will dance around my kitchen or maybe I will attempt a few yoga poses as led by the nice lady on my hand-me-down television. I wonder sometimes if anyone looks in and sees the crazy girl trying to stand on her head with the assistance of the living room wall. I wonder what they think of me, if I’m able to pull of the practiced yogi persona I invent in my head.

I wonder if one of them might want to dance with me.

I’m happy on my own, I promise. I would always rather surf the internet than navigate the discomfort of a social gathering filled to the gills with unfamiliars.

I leave the curtains open because it feels like freedom. I leave them open to present some kind of carefree demeanor I can’t achieve in public.

I don’t usually mind that it’s the same people every day who see my curtains open and may or may not care to ever join me. If none of them has presented themselves as a serial killer by now, odds are that at least I am marginally safe.

Every week or so, when I’m feeling low and unworthy, I pretend to hear a tap at the window. I fantasize that maybe someone has finally come to join me on the couch. Or eat leftover fried rice with me. Or hold me up to help me with my backbend.

Sometimes I dream that someone will come dance with me.

 

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

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