by Delilah Summerer

My apartment building is just another red brick building on a street of red brick buildings. The only thing that changes as I walk down the street is the golden number above each door. 3708. 3712. 3716. I have a while until my building. My footsteps make a crisp sound as I pass under the orange glow of street lamps. I always think I have a while until I don’t, and my building is just another red brick building that I’ve passed.

Across the street, there are lights in each window, each apartment lit up like the apartments are TVs for sale. People with names I’ll never learn, faces distorted from being stories up. I watch them settle down for dinner as I walk to my building. They all lead their own lives. They all memorize their building number and hope they don’t pass their building when they’re walking home, the same way I have. We’re all lost in this sea of similarity.

My favorite apartments are the ones with different colored lights. The LED ones. Instead of glowing that off-white that is the typical light color for kitchen lights, these windows are blasting neon purple and cherry red, even through closed blinds. It makes me smile. ‘I know who you are,’ I feel like screaming sometimes. ‘We’re not so different.’

I like to make up stories about the lower-level apartments that leave their blinds open. Their names change each night. Jeremy loves Linda and he made a meal from her childhood to showcase it. Tomorrow, they’ll be Harold and Carol, and dinner will be divorce papers. The stories mean nothing. They distract me from the cold that finds my fingertips through my pockets.

Do people make up stories about me? As I pour my herb and buttered noodles into a bowl, do people pretend that I’m just a side character in their lives? I’m single. My husband is at war. I’m eagerly awaiting my best friend to say I’m in love with her. I’m not better than the other people in their decorated fish bowls. The only difference is that mine is a dark blue.

My building is behind me. This realization will strike me tomorrow, as it always has.

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