Apartment 201

Written By: Danielle Ly

Her apartment is dusty. Not just on what little furniture decorates the room, but in the air, in the way it sits in my lungs. All the lights are off, except for her TV that glitches and flashes in the background of her living room. There’s a bit more light leaking in through the blinds from the street lamps below, but everything else is dark. I can’t see much. 

“Do you think...” I adjust my eyes to watch her speak in the blue light of her TV. Her voice sounds older. She pulls her cigarette to her lips. She breathes in smoke and blows out sadness. “...I could have been something?”

She lies half naked on her couch. Her skin is pale - had it always been this pale? And when I look at her through the darkness I see who she could have been. She was beautiful and mysterious and her smile felt like standing on the edge of a tall building with your arms out wide.

I think about how funny she was, how kind she had been. I think about what her laugh sounded like and what her mouth looked like when she spoke. I look into her washed out brown eyes. 

Yes. 

She could have been anything in the world. 

Now though, she lies with her scrawny legs dangling over the arms of her dirty couch. She is so tiny that the cushions seem to swallow her whole. Her hip bones jut forward and her rib cage, under her paper thin skin, look like speed bumps on a snowy white road in January. 

I look at her face, dotted with healing yellow bruises that look like spilled tea on pages of a book. Her hair is tangled and she keeps biting the skin of her lips - they’re only red because of the blood. She pulls more smoke into her lungs and I watch her body seem to sigh in relief. Or maybe it just caves in from the pressure. 

I force myself to look at her eyes now. They’re milky and bloodshot. Tears are streaming down her dry cheeks but she doesn’t seem to notice. Her chin is tucked in, as if her head is too heavy to hold up anymore. She lets the tears fall onto her chest and make tiny lakes on her collarbone. 

I look at the ground littered with needles and burnt spoons, empty clear bags with only specks of powder. 

I look back up at her, a skeleton playing pretend. She lifts her head, just barely, her cloudy eyes becoming dry and far away. Her chest is heaving in small bursts and I swear I can hear her heart beating, even at this distance. She takes a ragged breath in, and I hear the drop of the needle from her arm hitting the cracked hard wood floor beneath her. 

She smiles at me, and before I can even move, she’s left me. 

“You were already something.” I whisper into an empty room.