Eugenia Moreno
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Neighbours (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1

10 PM

I'm sitting in front of my window at home, celebrating my promotion with a glass of wine. I give it a sip, enjoying the view of my neighbours' Friday activities from my accustomed sitting place, facing my open window. I see a light coming from one of the many small terraces that decorate the façade of the building. I hear the voices of children, happily laughing and setting a table. I can only imagine their mom has cooked something extremely pleasant. Another light is turned on and this young boy enters, dressed all in sports. He's about to change, but soon notices me and awkwardly puts the blinds now, leaving the room protected by an opaque wall. Suddenly I see another light flicker, about a floor higher up. A tall man enters the room with a couple of boxes being carried by his long, strong arms. He lets them drop with a loud bang and sits down on top of one, checking his phone for about ten minutes. The rest of the complex seems to have gone to sleep. I should to. I have no reason to stay awake and watch my neighbours carry on with their day. No friends, no plans. Just me, as it has always been.

I grab the plate I've set next to my glass of wine and eat the first item: some butter and jam toast, despite it being 10 p.m. I keep on looking at the newcoming neighbour. He's finally gotten up and is unpacking his boxes. Laughter from children can be heard, and I cannot comprehend how food can bring them so much joy. Perhaps their mother is an awful cook and she's ordered a nice, warm takeaway. I hear a loud thud which shifts my attention back to the floor above, where the individual is decorating his empty shelves with some books. I try to imagine what sorts of things this man likes to read, and I come to the conclusion that he must really enjoy Modern History and perhaps a bit of Politics to wash down all those facts with some theory of how and why it happened that way. His shirt is quite dirty at the back, with some white paint staining the navy blue colour of his top. He looks quite fit and I wonder if he'll be frequenting the gym. Perhaps I should go and present myself, tell him I'm his neighbour and that he should come over at some point. It seems pathetic so I instantly get that idea out of my head. He's turned around again and gotten some bed sheets out, carefully placing them on his matress. Something, however, makes this man quite appealing and mysterious. It could be the fact that I've never seen him before and his irruption with no previous warning into our neighbourhood is somewhat surprising. Maybe it's because he looks quite attractive. Either way, I should be heading to sleep so, as I leave my eating utensils in the kitchen and head back to my room, I can hear the children getting excited for some dessert.

3 AM

I can't go to sleep. I feel slightly nauseous. I haven't had alcohol in quite a long time due to some drinking problems in the past. I dreamt of him. My husband, who disappeared without a trace. I knew he didn't love me anymore, but I also expected him to show me that he didn't care, that he was done with us. Instead, he was specially caring during the last weeks we were together to then leave one day, never to contact me again. Nor did his family, even though I called them several months on end, waiting for someone to explain to me why. So I decided to move and live somewhere less lonely, where neighbours did not live in big spaces, a few kilometres away from each other, but rather close enough so that I could see them and see their happy lived unfold like a movie, only I was the audience, attempting to figure out their next move, without being part of it. I stand up and search for the light switch but as soon as I notice that my fellow neigbour is awake I refrain from disturbing his solitude. I sit down on my chair and watch him. He's not facing me, but I can tell his drawing something. His room has been fully decorated and I'm surprised at his speed. It looks quite strange. He has no pictures or paintings and instead many books and a lab coat hanging on his door. Is he a doctor? An assistant? I don't quite know but he's anxiously drawing on a piece of paper, as if tomorrow was the end of the world and he needed to leave a legacy for humanity. I go back into the kitchen and pour myself some wine, the taste of it sickening yet comforting at the same time. I stay up all night watching him move his pencil along the canvas, while his shirt becomes sweatier with every passing hour.

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Neighbours (Chapter 1)
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