There’s times I’m ungrateful for this apartment. It’s small. It always smells of rice – even though I’ve never cooked rice in the five years I’ve lived here. The heater rumbles like a steam train. The washing machine, even louder. There’s this owl that always visits the porch and leaves behind gifts for me to clean up.
But there are things I love about this apartment too. In the summer, it will warm up to seventy degrees. The rent used to be cheap. My neighbors were always pretty quiet and polite. And there was this owl that came by and let me pet him whenever I felt like going out in the cold.
I would move to a bigger place. But this complex is the only living space for miles, and the winter is too cold to venture out in. Snow covers the ground in increments of feet, and the biting wind is too much for my mild thermal allodynia. If I could though, I would leave this place and move far away from here.
Somewhere where there is more people.
Somewhere where there is more warmth.
Somewhere where there is more hope.
It’s fortunate that I have a surplus of food to help sustain me during these winter months when I can barely stand in the cold for ten minutes, let alone hunt. Petting the owl seems to take almost everything out of me. Even shoveling the snow from the front doors of the building is hazardous. I find I have to take a lukewarm shower to rinse away the cold after being in it for longer than five minutes.
There’s not much for entertainment around here. Again – the owl. Although I have a television, nothing plays on any of the stations. The radio is almost useless as well, although I did find a station that plays a continuous loop of electronica music. The music – the noise – helps keep the madness at bay.
The really unfortunate fact is that I’ll never find true love – whatever that is.
My pot of water boils as I toss in a package of pasta. My memory of that morning – the morning I awoke to find everyone in the complex gone – is still intact, but fleeting more and more each day. It’s been three months, and what was once a clear memory of waking up to my alarm clock only to be greeted with dead silence throughout the whole two-building complex, has now began to blur. I can’t remember now what time I woke. I can’t remember which apartment I broke into first. I can’t remember the date.
I wonder if madness has robbed me of those things. In place, madness left behind questions that haven’t – and maybe can’t – be answered. Why did everyone leave? Where did they go? They left food and supplies. They left their televisions and radios on. Water was left running in a few of the apartments I scouted, and a few of the house cats were without food or water. Was everyone taken? Was everyone killed? If so, where are the bodies?
Most importantly, why was I left behind? Me. Me and the owl.
The loneliness and the cold. It couldn’t get much worse. But I’m thankful for my little apartment. In the summer, it will warm to seventy degrees. Just warm enough for me to maybe venture away from this place. And that owl is a friend to me. The only friend I have.