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Out There

The lone palm tree across from her window stands sentinel for the outdated apartment building behind it. Not much has changed outside this window. Not the dirty streaks that obstruct an already-obstructed view. Not the unkempt bush that sits halfway up its entire length. Not the spiders' web in the top right, unreachable corner. Still, this stained portal provides the only blowing air that stirs her.

Inside, her tiny apartment feels stagnant. Nothing but recycled breaths and anxious thoughts. She considers for a moment taking all the wounded frustration she feels inside and punching through the tiny bit of screen that is currently her salvation. Maybe she can crawl through to the other side emerging with scratched arms and a furious new lease on life. Or maybe she'll lie on the floor behind as she always does, counting the number of times the door to her building slams in the breeze.

The other constants she counts on are the footsteps of the upstairs neighbors as they pace during another fight. The number of clinks and slams the construction crew makes next door. One. two. Three. One thousand. She loses track and circles back.

Her head is awash with counting and checking and double-counting and checking. The number she needs to leave the apartment hasn't been reached. She checks again and again and needs to be sure she's checked enough. She's exhausted and is ready to crawl back under her covers. This time she doesn't even take off her sneakers. She was hopeful today. She'll be hopeful tomorrow.

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