The white walls were all there were. I was sitting in front of it. At the bedroom table, I was surrounded by all of them. White walls on all sides. Plain as it could get, except for the outdated calendar hanged limply on the southwest side that was about to give out in the faintest blow of the wind. The room was still. Even with open windows, there was no breeze entering at all. No rustling coming from the neighboring trees, neither whistling nor visits from the birds that usually perched on the window sill. The smoke of the cigarette followed the pathless hike, ceiling-bound as it curled in front of my face. Everything around me was silent as if we were all waiting together for something important to happen. Thin sheets of clouds were covering most parts of the sky like an oversized gray patch so dull it resembled a clearing of a lahar aftermath. I decided to rescue an empty coffee container made of glass, to use it as a spare mug should I have visitors coming over. But I was not expecting anyone that night, or any time soon I figured. Still, I washed the damn thing anyway and placed it on the drying rack next to a microwavable dish plate.
It was not always like this in fact. Especially on weekends when the halls outside my room were packed by children running up and down playing and yelling until twilight when their parents call them in for supper. Or at Christmas when my mom and sisters come over to have lunch with me before heading back for Noche Buena, or last summer when I dated someone from work who also lived nearby the sea. In this vacuum of time I remained, in this void, I lingered, over expanding in the thoughts of my consciousness boundless. I thought I belonged there, it was like a homecoming. I began to snap my fingers to break the chain. I could no longer stand the silence. I walked towards my reflection and saw the lines on my forehead. Deeper than the last time I remembered them to be, even the placements had changed, it was uncanny. I didn’t realize that my wrinkles were well-traveled. And when did they decide to move was unknown to me. When one was asleep perhaps? It should be that, lest I would have noticed it moved.
The cream firmed up. I stirred and stirred before it lost warmth. I leaned over stretching my head to see the other side of the wooden fence below for an acquaintance resting my arms on the balcony. Then I heard a heavy knocking on the door which caught me off-guard. At first, I thought somebody saw me peering at the neighbor’s and ran up to my room to tell me off. But that was too fast of a reaction it was impossible. I didn’t know who it was behind it, as I said I wasn’t expecting anyone anytime soon. As I turned to approach the door, I thought it could be the caretaker, or someone from the other units probably borrowing some tools like a Phillips screwdriver or an electrical tape. People always forget to buy electrical tapes ending up asking the neighbor for some. And as I came closer, I remembered all of a sudden that I was still in my sleep clothes and thought of putting on something more decent. So, I did that, throwing in over a sweatshirt although it’s thirty-three degrees that afternoon.
When finally, I turned the knob to open, there stood in uniform a guard from downstairs panting, catching his breath while wiping his massive neck with a face towel. He has a wide body, probably too big for his shirt and hat, who also was taller than I was. I gave him a moment before he was able to say that there was a phone call for me at the reception.
“I don’t understand, did the caller leave a name?”
“I’m sorry, I neglected to ask” he responded, finally regaining himself.
“That’s fine, does it sound urgent?”
“It was a woman’s voice, I can’t really tell”
From the living area, I heard the first arrival of the birds perching on the tufts of the sofa. The leaves rustled for the first time that day.
I invited him in to drink a good glass of cold water and joined my perched friends on the balcony.
Photo by: LJ Jumig