Photo by Prayitno
There is a siren screaming past outside my apartment but it has nothing to do with me. My roommate is in his room and I wonder what he is doing. I want him to come out so I can ask him what he is doing. But if he did come out I wouldn’t be able to think of anything else to say.
There is a glass of water sitting on the coffee table. It has been sitting there for three days. There are specks of something floating near the top of the water.There is a vase of dried brown flowers next to the glass. The water in the vase is cloudy.A hissing noise is coming from the heater. It hisses for a few minutes and then it stops hissing. I am reading a book. I have been reading the same two pages for the past nineteen minutes. I look out the window. The dog is barking at a squirrel in a tree. The squirrel is chasing another squirrel. I can’t tell if they are in love or if they hate each other.
I open my laptop. The tabs for Gmail and The New York Times and Facebook are open. There are no new emails in my inbox. I refresh it twice to make sure. I click on The New York Times. I light a cigarette and stare at the headlines. I click on Facebook and scroll down the news feed. I close my computer. I wish someone was watching me through a camera in my apartment. I have total privacy and freedom to do anything I want and I am not doing anything. If someone was watching me I think it could give me ambition. There are too many options to choose from and too few options that seem worth choosing. I want to fight something concrete but I wouldn’t want to follow orders but I would have to follow orders because I wouldn’t be able to decide on my own what to do. I would be willing to kill. Who would I kill? I don’t think I will ever kill anyone. Technology has stripped us of that obligation. This should make me more uncomfortable than it does.
I walk out of my apartment building. I walk down Lafayette Avenue towards the bodega. The sun is out but there is a bit of an overcast. Some kids are smashing bottles in empty lot across the street. A couple of old ladies pushing carts are walking down the sidewalk towards me. I turn the corner. A couple of middle-aged men are standing at the corner. One of them has his back turned and then he turns in my direction. I run into him and a plastic bag he is carrying falls to the ground and I hear a glass bottle break inside it. I see it was a bottle of Bailey’s. The two men shake their heads and say that it sucks. I apologize and offer to pay them back for it. I can’t remember how much a bottle of Bailey’s costs. I don’t even want to pay him. He ran into me. He puts his palm near my chest. I take the thirty dollars in my wallet and give it to him. I tell him that is all I have. I feel afraid of him because he is bigger than me. I turn and walk away. I could have easily just run away from them and not given them the money. I don’t have any money left to buy anything from the bodega. I walk back to my apartment.
Andrew Worthington lives in Harlem, where he teaches at the City College of New York. He has a short fiction e-book (PangurBanParty.com), a magazine (KeepThisBagAwayFromChildren.com), and a blog (FuckingBigThoughts.blogspot.com). He is 24, and he probably has most of his life ahead of him.