I pushed my bed ‘til it rested against the entrance. These were humid nights, and the only relief from the suffocating shroud of moisture and heat was the bit of breeze that seeped through the cracks of my door.
My place was tiny, and it was all I could afford, but the small space made me feel less lonely. I usually stumbled in just after eleven. Following a long hard day of work and sweat, I would make a cup of soup, and then rinse off in the shower before reading a page or two and nodding off.
These last two weeks, though, were unbearable. I lived in a box, no window or back exit, just a bed, a tiny mini-fridge, portable stove, toilet, and half-shower. I had no other furniture. The fridge was useless, barely cool enough to keep the milk from spoiling. Even the water was lukewarm.
In the evening, my exhaustion was usually all it took to knock me unconscious, but not tonight, nor the last few nights for that matter. All day and all evening, my mind wandered to the feeling of a few puffs of air against my skin, not quite cool enough to give me goosebumps, but just enough to take the edge off the insufferable heat, if only for a few split seconds. Alas, I would have to wait ‘til the end of another long sticky day.
That time had finally arrived. I stripped down, tossed my clothes on the floor, and closed my eyes. I nodded in and out, succumbing to dreams, only to be awoken by the blanket of oppression that clung to every corner and crevice of my own personal square.
This time, it was the knob that woke me; its cool metal surface excited my skin. I held it, caressed it, and leaned against it hoping to steal some of its chill. As I jostled at the handle, though, I felt resistance. Try as I might, it would not let me turn.
I gave up a few times, content to feel the protrusion nip at my outer shell. Walking back and forth across the boundaries of consciousness, I continued to struggle. Finally, curiosity forced a confrontation. A brawl ensued, but it defied logic. That’s when I made the decision.
It required that I stop pretending and accept defeat, but I could resist no longer. I inched my knees towards my chest, allowing me to sit up on my bed and peer through the peephole across the portal of my residence. I stared through the short narrow corridor that separated us.
The dark passageway bled through to a brighter light, one with shape and form. The night blurred my vision, so I had to blink out of it. I stared for quite some time until the image revealed itself.
I could make out a uniform composed of blue, black, and white.
The costume covered her, the young girl that stood across the boundary. I’m not sure why she was there. I couldn’t see her eyes, which were hidden just outside the circular edge of view, but she was strong and more insistent than ever. She turned the knob. I fought against it until the metallic handle became too cold to grasp.
I let go, and as I did, a cool gust of wind forced its way in along the margins. She faded away, and broke the heat. I let myself fall backwards and collapsed on the cushions of my cradle. Comforted by the breeze and exhausted from the scuffle, I closed my eyes, fell asleep, and let the visions in my head take me away to the hidden realms of the night.