Book PileA young woman gently closed the heavy door behind her as she entered the cramped room. The musty smell of furniture and aged books saturated the air. A curtain was half drawn across the solitary window. The fading dusk light struggling to enter was slowly being defeated by the clouded glass pane. She tried the light switch on the wall but nothing happened. Using the beaming light from her phone she found her way to a lamp and flicked it on. The feeble light did little to illuminate the room, serving instead to only highlight the lingering shadows in every corner.

Cracks ran along the painted walls exposing patches of discoloured wallpaper beneath. A small camping bed was pushed up against a corner. The neatly made bedding did nothing to hide the sagging springs. An armchair sat near the centre of the room. Threadbare and muted, it was impossible to tell the original colour now. Every surface was blanketed in undisturbed layers of dust, weighting everything down like time itself had permeated over the room.

The woman moved to the wooden dresser, weaving slowly through staggered piles of books. She picked up one of the photo frames and held it towards the light. The picture was faded and curled at the edges. A youthful man was laughing, his arm around a pretty girl who beamed up at him. She stroked the glass, smiling to herself, then replaced it carefully. More photos of the same two people covered the dresser, though she could not bear to look.

Raised voices drifted through the thin walls. The neighbours fighting. The words came through muffled, unable to penetrate the dense silence of the room. Eventually they stopped. A clock ticked somewhere. So softly it was almost inaudible. The woman closed her eyes and listened to the room breathing around her.

A few moments later a pair of footsteps slowly approached outside, followed by the clatter of keys. She pushed her hair behind her ears and held her breath as the door creaked opened.


© 2015, Gavin Zanker.

Photo by Aurelien Breeden licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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