July 24, 2010

New Life in a New Town

I stared at the peeling paint on the generic white door of apartment #324, wondering how I had gotten to this point. My fingers fumbled as I pulled the key out of the pocket of my new black jeans. At least one good thing had come out of this arrangement: a new-to-me wardrobe. No more Momma telling me what I could or couldn't wear, no more church members looking down their noses at my low necklines and above-the-knee shorts. Nobody to judge me if I felt like wearing skull and crossbones or dark eye makeup. I sighed, realizing that I had to cross the threshold at some point. Might as well get it over with.

My cell phone rang as the door squeaked open. More like my tracking-anklet-in-a-pocket. It was my witsec inspector with a newsy update.

"Alex, how's it going? Have you gotten into your new digs yet?"

I feigned an excited affirmation for her sake and let her continue her monologue.

"Listen, I've been looking into a few job opportunities and want you to come by this afternoon to check out some places with me. Also, I found a place where you might be able to get a washer and dryer. It's at Sam's Appliance Store over on Jude Street. I can take you by there later if you'd like. Oh, and your utilities should be on by noon today. Let me know if there's any problems with that."

I mumbled a complaint under my breath as she finally hung up. Part of me wanted to keep her on the phone as long as possible, while I explored my new home, if it could be called that. Part of me wanted to toss the phone out the third-story window and have it land in the path of an oncoming trailer truck.

Then again, I could barely see out the window to know whether there was even a road out there. I rubbed the glass with the end of my shirt-sleeve, just enough to let a small circle of sunlight in. The frame looked like it was painted shut; maybe the inspector could be good for something after all.

A quick survey told me that the rest of the place was in just as good a shape as the window and the door. The kitchen looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since Nixon was in office. I wasn’t sure whether the fridge would even work once it got plugged in. The carpet looked like it had been through a dozen toddlers, two dozen pets, and a handful of teenagers. The faucet probably put out rusty water, and the smoke detector would probably go off whenever I used the oven.

It felt like a long day already, and it was only nine in the morning.

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