another evening, a thursday tonight. the moon distant and blurred through cloudy skies. 22a — green door, red bricks, framed by indecent, half-naked trees and spotlighted by a powerful orange streetlight. the main lights switch back on behind venetian blinds, overwhelming the television screen flicker. a petite silhouette grows and looms against the blinds. those blinds, no doubt dusty and uncooperative like all of the appliances in her run-down unit, never seem to rise, never open to look out onto the street or let in the daylight.
the silhouette moves to the right of the room, side profile, leaning forwards slightly to apply makeup: heavy foundation, then rouge, then powdered eye shadow, thick cats eye liner, three coatings of mascara, and finally screaming red lipstick. staring into the mirror for a few seconds more, she surveys her image and mulls over the flaws. no beautician could conceal the exhaustion she’s beginning to show from too many long nights on the job. but she condemns herself to another one; the money is good and she’s already behind on her utility bill and her father’s medical fees. she dabs some perfume behind the ears and disappears from view.
most of the other filmstrip windows are in darkness, with only a couple of dim reading lamps showing. her neighbours are either out imbibing or easing towards sleep, and their children’s cries have been long silenced by warm baths and bedtime stories. there are more raccoons than cars navigating the one-way street.
through the stillness of the blanketed night, the fire station clock blocks away tolls for midnight. her silhouette graces the blinds once more as she wraps herself in a light coat and picks up a purse. she forgets to turn off the lights as she turns into the staircase. a few seconds later the latch clicks and the front door opens a crack, catching on the floor mat. she kicks it back into place in the semi-darkness of the cramped entranceway and swivels around the door. first comes a foot, seemingly blanketed in a heavy slipper, of all things. this is followed by a muscular leg and the frayed hem of a housecoat. a short, freshly-shaven man steps out into the glare of the streetlight and waves at me before lighting his cigarette. i wave back, then stub out my own cigarette, pick up my empty mug, and step inside. the blind leading the blind.