I was drunk. Too much beer in the fridge, too much time alone. It must have been three o’clock.
I stumbled through the flat. Too drunk. Talking to inanimate objects. Too lonely.
“No one comes to visit me,” I spat at the intercom in the hall, lurching in its direction like a drunk trying to pick a fight. I snatched the handset off the wall and, as if to prove my point to absolutely no one, jabbed the receiver to my ear.
A dark void outside the building’s front door. No voices. No footsteps. No wind. Just the oppressive silence.
And then sobbing. A painful, inconsolable sobbing.
I swore, dropping the phone. It swung on its wire and clattered against the wall.
“Hello?” a woman’s voice asked. “Is anyone there?”
I stayed silent. Embarrassed. As if I’d been caught staring into someone’s bedroom.
Leaning across the hallway, I peered through the window which overlooked the front of the house. I couldn’t see anyone through the black; the security light hadn’t come on.
“Is there someone up there?” she sobbed. “Can you let me in please? I live on the third floor.”
There were two apartments on the third floor, including my own. At times, I heard someone living through the paper-thin walls, although they had never introduced themselves.
Maybe they thought the flat was still empty. No one had lived here for months. I had never thought to ask why. The price was too good for questions.
I pressed the button on the intercom; a neighbourly act of kindness.
Three floors down, the building’s entrance creaked open. Next door, my neighbour coughed in her sleep.
Heavy feet staggered up the threadbare stairs. First. Second. Third floor. The shuffling stopped outside my door. Silence. That damn silence.
I put my eye up against the peep-hole.
And then I started sobbing. A painful, inconsolable sobbing.
“Can you let me in please?” rasped the voice from behind the door.