I woke disoriented and my eyes felt gritty. Sunlight was shining on me from a strange direction, though my blanket felt and smelled familiar. I stretched and rubbed my eyes before looking around the room. The eggshell white walls were bare and there were boxes stacked next to the dresser. I was in a new apartment. I’d moved my stuff in yesterday, but hadn’t finished in time to even start unpacking. Kicking off the blanket, I sat up and rested my feet on the bare wood floor. It was cool against my skin, so different from the carpet of my old place. But that had kind of been the point.
The efficiency was my first apartment on my own. The last place I’d shared with my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, rather. We’d broken up a couple months back, and it had been ugly and uncomfortable ever since. To be honest, it hadn’t been comfortable for the two or three months leading to our dissolution. Getting out was a relief, and it felt like I could finally breathe again. But it was also a very definitive sign that we were really through and there was no reconciling. Not that I really wanted him back. I mean he’d been a jerk. He’d already slept with two or three people since I told him we were through, and that didn’t count the ones he’d been with when we were supposedly monogamous. It wasn’t the end of the relationship that was hard; it was more the destruction of the idea of what the relationship was supposed to have been that hurt.
As I was rummaging through boxes for a bowl, I heard the soft sound of footsteps upstairs. One of the things that appealed to me about apartments was that I didn’t feel alone. There were people all around me, but I had my own private space. Victorious with my initial search, I tried to find my silverware. Cautious shaking of boxes eventually revealed it to me. I was just starting my quest for cereal when the gentle background sound of water running through pipes in my ceiling started up. I closed my eyes and embraced the way these noises differed from my last place. I needed to get used to them, because this would be home for a while.
Thirty seconds later I was startled out of this contemplation by the most beautiful baritone voice singing “She Moved Through the Fair.” He was really good, and I wondered if he was a vocal music major at the university about a mile down the road. He was way too good to be an amateur, yet it seemed unlikely that a professional would live in a building of mostly efficiencies and two bedroom apartments rented by college students and recent graduates. I felt the smile spread over my face. I had no idea who he was, and it didn’t matter. This one moment had totally made my day.
I tried not to get attached to the voice of my unknown upstairs neighbor, but it was hard. He always sang in the shower, and I was embarrassed to realize I’d memorized his routine. Six am shower, every other day. He seemed to prefer Italian to Latin, though there was a German piece that distracted me so thoroughly I’d burned the eggs I’d been scrambling. He had a whole repertoire of English folk songs. He sang in the evenings as well, but didn’t really belt it out like he did in the shower. I was torn between telling him that his spontaneous arias were a bright spot in any day, and accepting it as a gift from the universe.
The universe, as it turned out, had other ideas. Ideas involving the two of us retrieving our mail at the same time.
Prompt: You live in the apartment above me and every day I can hear you singing in the shower; you’re really good and it makes my day.
Note: I had to write this in two 15 minute stints because of a minor dinner calamity. Everyone survived, and the lentil stew was awesome.