Under Water

If left to his own devices, which he very often was, he would retreat to the room where he kept his malaise. The one room that eluded sunlight with a single window that faced the brick wall of a neighboring apartment. The one room where the sounds of the city were so muted and perplexed that they seemed to physically lay upon the soot filled sill.

Two years ago a pigeon died there after being unable to escape the downdraft of the dark vertical prison. It flew upward for the better part of a day, struggling mightily before accepting its fate. Exhausted and beaten it blinked its confused orange eyes for a last time and then resigned. Months later its feathers took flight once again as if being mocked by death. Afterward it withered away slowly on the sill. So treacherous and remote was the landscape that even flies did not visit the corpse. Finally one day he noticed that the bones had disappeared. Turned to dust.

He never once opened the window, figuring that the air would poison the room. One day, in a fit of curiosity he  wondered if other windows faced the wall? Surely that must be the case. Uncharacteristically he climbed the staircase to the floor above where he stood at the door of his upstairs neighbor. He stared at the apartment number and listened, for what he wasn’t sure.

Upon returning to the room he noticed that it had begun to rain.

– Thom Middlebrook