The people who mutter to themselves in my neighborhood have nothing in common with one another. They wear suits and sweatpants, dresses and sneakers and torn coveralls and band t-shirts. They smell of cigarettes or perfume or alcohol or pizza or nothing at all.
There is something about this place. I knew it when I first moved in but hadn’t been able to place a finger on it then. The realtor had shaken her head when I’d nodded, telling me she had nicer places to show me, this was just the bottom of the barrel. I told her no, no, this is perfect. I still maintain that it is. My apartment is angular, misshapen, with a corner cut out of the living room, a bite taken out by some rogue builder. The pipes in the walls clang me to sleep in the winter and the hot winds serenade through the air shaft in summer.
And people talk to themselves. I’ve fallen into the habit too. I am self-conscious to the point of wearing an earpiece, leaving one of the sides of my headphones dangling down. If anyone asks, I’m just telling my mom about my day. I’m telling her about the car that got bashed in right in front of my stoop and the dead pigeon I saw smushed in the park from who knows what vehicle. Maybe it was a hawk, I tell her, I tell the street. Maybe it was a sadistic kid. Maybe it was a cannibalistic pigeon ritual. She doesn’t say anything back. She’s not there. But no one has questioned me so far, and I think I’ll be ready to start singing along to my music soon, keeping my eyes facing forward, ignoring any stares with a secret smile.


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