01. Nice day
03. Mental Breaker
05. Very Good
06. Be the light
07. Did you or Did you not
09. Zero for conduct
11. Walking in the rain
12. Ordinary girl
14. Tell them
17. Very Good rough ver.
You’ve been living in the same apartment building in a busy section of downtown for years now. At least long enough that you shrugged as you noticed the nail holes in the walls as you readjusted your new shadowboxes – meant to hold the shells from your recent vacation with your family to St. Augustine. You’d lucked out and managed to snag the corner apartment when you’d arrived fresh from college and ready to plunge into the Real World with your Adult Job and Responsibilities. The windows were a must, as you lived for summers and thought very seriously of getting a timeshare for the winter months. They gave you a view of the park a block over, the mom-and-pop bakery that had become your go-to spot for coffee and bagels on the way to work, and a straight-shot view of the city’s university several blocks down.
Your building is far enough away that rent is fairly reasonable for a college student in debt, and so while you build friendships with the long-term residents (Sr. Muñoz always comes by with extra sauces from the care packages his son ships him, and Ms. Geltzer is ever eager for visitors so that she can show off her extensive collection of artwork gathered while she toured with the ballet), you also witness a revolving set of perpetually young, perpetually exhausted twenty-somethings haul their cardboard boxes into and out of the building’s large, double-paned glass doors. On occasion, you’ve helped, but for the most part, they have a caravan of friends to laugh and yell with as they lug ratty couches and Home Essentials desks and coffee tables up the stairs.
There’s one apartment in particular on your floor that seems permanently reserved for the students. Unfortunately, it shares a wall with your own kitchen and living room. Some years, you luck out with a quiet person who seems just to skulk back and forth from the staircase and their door, weighed down with books and binders. Other years, your sleep is interrupted by more social denizens with time and money to spend on parties. For a semester, you found yourself sharing the wall with an engineering student. She’s nice enough, and her socialization was limited to a few friends and a girlfriend (boyfriend? You were never quite certain, but after all, it wasn’t really any of your business, and more importantly, they seem to treat each other with respect), but the muted explosions and increasingly strong odor of smoke and burnt electronics eventually draws complaints. You think that this particular student is not the worst of the bunch, but there is the constant concern that she’ll light the place on fire while trying to complete her homework. So she moves out at semester, right after finals. This is when she moves in.
It’s a cold evening a week before Christmas when you bump into a parka with legs. To your surprise, the parka squeaks and starts apologizing, and then a knit cap is being pulled off what you find out is a head, and a young woman of small-to-medium height is staring up at you. She has very large eyes, and your stutter comes back just a little bit as you brush off her apology. She doesn’t seem to notice the stutter. She has a duffel bag slung over her shoulder and a box of plants in her arms. You chat about plants for a while, and then she ends up walking with you to your hallway. Upon realizing that you two are neighbors, you exchange introductions, and you offer to help her with the rest of her belongings. She declines with a weary smile and says she’s almost done. You hadn’t heard anything from the hallway all day (the apartment is wonderful, but you’ve found that the walls can be a tad thin).
You sense that she wants to finish, and the conversation ends with empty promises to hang out. You’ve never hung out with any of the students. She gives you another tight, tired smile, and then disappears through her doorway. You head back into your own apartment, but remembering that you wanted to check the mail, head out again. Out of habit, you glance through the doorway of 2E and see the woman, coat now shed, walk the opposite way with a box from your personal favorite computer store in her arms. You keep walking, reminding yourself not to peer through doorways you aren’t invited to.
That night, you hear a faint buzzing whine at the edges of the darkness around you, and after staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to trace the noise, you give up. Your new neighbor has been quiet, and the smell of smoke has finally cleared.
A few days later, you come home, your date’s arm slipped through your own and with her pressing laughingly against your side. You are both a little drunk, alcohol filling you with false warmth and maybe not-so-fake affection. It’s still early, so you invite her in, curious about where the evening and her company will take you.
The two of you have settled on the couch, and you’re considering her legs and tracing the sheen knit of her nylons when she straightens, eyebrows knit together and an inquisitive smile on her face. “Is that…” her head inclines to the wall, and you hear a voice through the walls, sometimes humming, sometimes singing. “Oh my god,” she laughs, fully facing the wall now. “Your neighbor is singing ‘Breaking Free’.”
Memories of watching High School Musical when it first released on television trickle back to you, and you laugh as well. “That’s a movie I haven’t thought of in forever,” you say, taking the opportunity to lean in just a little, as if to tell a secret. “Kind of glad I didn’t. It wasn’t a great movie.”
You don’t notice as the lights seem to flicker just a little – they do that, as the wiring is kind of old – but your date pulls back, looking wide-eyed at the wall. The singing has stopped. “How thin are your walls?” she asks, still giggling because of the wine from dinner.
“Somewhat.” A thread of guilt starts to snake its way through you. You’re a little worried that 2E heard you, but a few seconds later, she starts up again at the same volume, starting a new song from the same musical. “Ah, see? She probably had to go pee or something.”
Your date seems to believe this, and the two of you get closer and manage to drown out the looped performance from next door. She stays the night, and you lend her a phone charger. Your bedroom is on the opposite side of the apartment. Both of you forget about 2E.
This is the last time you see your date in person. She leaves the following morning considerably more disgruntled. Your phone charger didn’t work, she says, staring down at the screen disgustedly. You apologize and offer to try another, but she waves this off. She didn’t sleep well, she says, citing dreams interrupted by a strange whine. She sniffs the air as well, and coughs. Starting to say something, she catches herself and instead gives you a glassy smile, saying that she had fun but that she wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to get home. Your offers of a ride and then cab fare are rebuffed, and she leaves. Weeks later, you pass by her, and she’s with someone else. You don’t mind at this point.
Now, though, you watch her leave and wonder wildly what could have brought the change. As you start to analyze everything from the start of dinner the previous night, the scent of coffee starts to tickle your nose. You haven’t made coffee, but you are tired. You check your own phone and see that it is dead, which is puzzling because you too had charged yours. Maybe it was that faulty wiring; you’ll get the landlord to look into it.
Two weeks later, you come back from Christmas with your family to see a small rectangle just a little wider and longer than your hand sitting neatly in front of your door. It is wrapped in the funnies page, with a thin ribbon tied in a limp bow. The tag reads “To: 2F”, but the From field is blank. You tuck it under your arm just long enough to unlock your door and drop your duffel bag on the ground before opening the present, and your eyebrows knit together.
You have been knocking on 2E’s door for a few minutes when Sr. Muñoz’s door opens across the hall, and he informs you that 2E still isn’t back. She’d left a few days before you after asking the landlord to look after her plants, of which there were apparently several. He nods at your hands, and asks who gave it to you. You shrug, a DVD copy of High School Musical in your grasp.
The landlord tells you that the wiring isn’t faulty, but your phone and now your laptop refuse to charge in the apartment. In fact, your laptop refuses to turn on as soon as you set foot on your floor. A few hours were spent testing the exact limits, but as soon as you hit the top step, it switches off. The manufacturer is bewildered as well, and after several diagnostics sessions and even a trip to the store, no one has any conclusions. Your laptop is replaced, but seems to be exhibiting the same behavior. Your friends all start to report problems with their devices while at your apartment, but thankfully, the Chromecast seems to work just fine, as does your Wi-fi. Your friends start carrying extra battery packs around with them when they come to visit, as do you. You start reading more to save power for phone calls and other important things.
When the semester starts up, the smell of coffee becomes even more pervasive, especially whenever you pass the woman from 2E in the hallway. She is usually in some state of bedhead and grogginess, though there are a few occasions where she actually smiles with lipsticked lips, her hair styled and a skirt flowing around her legs. One such Friday evening, you say, “You look very nice,” and she says, “Thank you,” before bundling up in her parka again. You’re not sure when she gets back, but suddenly, your phone is at 100% charge. This lasts only a few days, but you get through several seasons of Angel on Netflix while it does. Your computer still doesn’t turn on.
As the semester progresses, you still occasionally hear singing from her side of the wall, though you’ve taken to working late at the office since your laptop still refuses to power on at home. You start coming back very late, and start finding yourself walking back with her as she’s returned from the trudge from campus. A memory of burnt coffee seems to press at your brain as you walk, but your eyes are fuzzy with sleep, and you want only to get to bed. You two never speak, but while you start to get ready for bed, you hear a light tapping of computer keys. You make a mental note to ask her if she’s having computer issues; somehow, you know that she’s studying computer science. Maybe she’s experienced something like this in the past, or studied something like it. Perhaps, but you never remember the next time you see her. Her eyes are always wide and red these nights.
Some nights, other students come over, and if you’re home early from the office or the gym, you hear them laughing as you make dinner and prep a Tupperware of food for lunch the next day. Their laughter is just a little bit forced, maybe desperate, but you remember school. It’s a Thursday night; many of them probably have projects and papers coming up. You reach for the Tupperware lid, and your heart starts pounding and adrenaline floods your limbs. You snap the lid on, and you remember the deadline: Friday at 11:59PM, no late submissions accepted, and you are certain that your paper is going to get you the failing grade you’ve been dreading since failure became a sin. As you turn to the fridge, your heart rate is normal, and you are relaxed. What paper?
Sometimes while you sleep, you hear tapping keys in your dreams. As you hover on the edge of consciousness, you feel your fingers twitching, typing out things in unknown languages. You date more, and start asking if you can go home with your dates instead of the other way around. You sleep well these nights. Your phone charges. Your laptop, which you start bringing with you, powers on like it’s supposed to.
You even start a relationship, and for a few months, you are rarely at your apartment. You are in the office less. The air of your lover’s small apartment smells like candles or detergent or take-out. The lights do not flicker, and phone chargers do what they are supposed to. By April, you are considering moving in, but the night you suggest it, you end up back at your apartment, single and with a black laptop screen that refuses to change. You’ve been crowding your lover, and it’s odd that you never want to be at your place. After all, it’s larger and closer to work. You were moving too fast.
You sleep fitfully that night, but this time, it is because you keep waking up, hoping for a text message or a phone call that makes it all right. When day breaks, you resign yourself to be awake for good. Your phone is at 75%. While at the apartment, it never falls below that mark anymore. “At least something is going right,” you mutter hopelessly to yourself the next free evening you get, slumped on the couch and watching old Forensic Files episodes. During episode loading, you hear that the music through the wall is slow and sad, and a tightness grows at your chest, insistent and cancerous. Tears run down your cheeks, and a desperate, hopeless, disgusted feeling fills you. The next episode starts, and the music and your body’s strange response gets drowned out in a story of a serial arsonist.
Sunday evenings, you can hear her wailing through the walls. You were concerned at first and considered knocking and checking, but eventually decide against it, wanting to not be the creepy neighbor. Not that you’ve been watching, but she usually comes home along. You’ve gotten the impression that she actually has a roommate, but the roommate looks exactly like her, only happier. You don’t see the roommate often. You had thought 2E was a single bedroom. If she has a roommate, then she should be taken care of. The wailing is like clockwork, and you always feel an itching in your fingers and the need to finish it, finish it and hopefully it’s not too late to turn it in. The taste of coffee is as familiar and unnoticeable as your own skin. You try to fall asleep these nights, but your eyes don’t close. It’s only after you buy earplugs that you can sleep.
She stays longer than most of the students do. It’s been two years. Your computer still won’t turn on. Your phone is ever at 75% once you cross the threshold of your doorway. Friends, visitors, family all speak of a scent of coffee in the air. “Are you sleeping well?” they ask. They stop visiting, mostly because you stop inviting them. You’ve grown used to the strangeness, but it’s tiring explaining it to other people. You’ve dated semi-seriously, and those have always been wonderful months, but you always seem to move too fast. Sunday nights, starting in the middle of semester, she wails, and you put in your ear plugs.
sometimes i take a break from listening to kpop to refresh™ myself, but as im listening to other music ill suddenly get Ring Ding Dong stuck in my head and realize that there truly is no escape from this hell
I see so many fan fictions or smuts about girls who are “perfect” which consist of the girl having .
-pale white skin
-plump pink lips
- skinny waist
- thigh gap
- long straight hair
- Blue or green eyes
- perfectly shaved
- perky breast
-straight perfect smile
When most people who read these things have none of those things. I never see stories about girls with dark or tan skin. Not straight hair. Thick thighs or just naturally thick in general. Like girls are not Perfect and girls don’t always shave. Girls don’t always have perky breast or a thigh gap or a skinny waist and stuff like that. Not all fans are Asian or pale white. You have all types of nationalities not just asian. And It honestly bothers me that it’s always about pale girls that are perfect. I’m white and I’m kinda pale but I don’t have small boobs or a thigh gap or a skinny waist and my hair isn’t straight and my eyes are brown. And TBH its a lot of work being a girl and people don’t show That in there stories.
Like girls don’t always have time to shave and wax just for the guys pleasure. And I am forever seeing stories where the guy is dominant and like makes the girl do all the work. Girls can be dominant too. There’s literally the same smuts or stories with different idols. They all have the same story someone gets jealous over stupid things like the girl saying hi to another man. THAT IS NOT SOMETHING TO GET JEALOUS OVER. And getting jealous over something like that and dragging the girl home to slam her against the wall and call her a slut while fucking her brains out is not Ok. If anything it teaches young readers that, that’s okay and that’s love when it’s really just a guy being a jealous dick. Like if a guy did that to me I would probably leave him or punch him in the face. Yeah some people are into that but still there’s limits to these things. Honestly don’t get me wrong people who write these stories are great writers but seriously.
STOP STEREOTYPING WOMEN!!
If you don’t like my opinion then don’t read it. You don’t have to be a dick about it 🙃