Open the door to the lobby. Fluorescent lights and pale green paint.
Step up two stairs and the smell, an old man.
I see him.
Pale eyes, watery and pink, grey wool pants with egg yolks crusted on the thigh, a yellowing undershirt and red flannel jacket embedded with cat hair.
Sweet mocking voice – Come here little girl.
He hovers above me, and by the time I slip the key into the door of my apartment at the top of the stairs, he has my throat.
And I am more angry than afraid – he is familiar and
I am not a little girl anymore.
I have to breathe him. His pressing down on me is worse when I step through the door. My chest burns. I smell him everywhere, on my clothes, in my hair.
If I could ignore the smell it would be easy.
My husband doesn’t understand how I hate the old man, how I hate him.
How I hate him for staring at me from his perch at the window with the fan in it.
Where he smokes.
I hate having to ask him to wash his hands or his hair or to brush his teeth when he comes to bed.
At last I recognize the old man.
At last is a long way away that will suddenly be behind me.
That’s how it goes.
I want to walk to a café and sip coffee and talk to writers, artists – then write, then paint, then ride my bicycle. Sunset purple and orange, white turns pink, turquoise, violet.
Quick! Don’t want to miss it.
Shadows, stars, thick orange blossom air.
Bicycle float, glide in the night.