The Ones is a writing blog game in which participants receive a story title, a little wrinkle to up the challenge factor and then must create a single draft story in no more than one hour from the prompt. They then trade stories and post someone else’s entry on their website. My guest this week is Kishan Paul.
“So you feel like your husband isn’t attentive to your needs as he used to be?” I ask.
“Yes,” the woman on the speaker phone sniffles. “I think he’s having an affair,” she says as her sniffle turns into a full fledged sob.
“Elise,” I begin and stop when the pounding starts. I switch the speaker off and put the phone next to my ear. Placing my hand on the wall next to me, I feel it shake as whoever is on the other side pounds.
I scramble to the other side of apartment, the kitchen, “Elise, do you think this has anything to do with the fact it’s the busiest time…” The banging of the hammer against the wall gets louder and more incessant. I punch the breakfast table and work on keeping my voice calm and soothing. “of the year for him at work?”
The rest of our session is much the same and I pray Elise has no idea that I’m about to explode.
By the time I hang up, all I want to do is take the hammer and bang it upside my new neighbor’s head.
I go to my room and change out of my pajamas. One of the perks from doing phone sessions all day, the clients have no idea if you’re wearing bunny printed pajamas or a business suit.
I grab the toothpaste and squirt some into my mouth. After swishing the wintergreen gel around my teeth, I brush. My hand moves rhythmically with the hammer.
When I lost my vision at fifteen, I thought my life was ruined and locked myself away. Until one day, I got tired of feeling sorry for myself and finally came out of my room. Fourteen years later, I have a PhD. D, a thriving private practice doing phone counseling with people around the country, and am independent. All of that I did by myself.
After my teeth have been cleaned and probably scrubbed free of all enamel, I grab a hairbrush.
Every conflict, hurdle, I’ve handled alone. I needed to do that to prove to myself that I wasn’t broken. Dealing with a crazy neighbor will be a piece of cake after all of that.
Tossing on my sunglasses, I walk out of my condo and venture to the one beside me.
One press of the doorbell and I step back, waiting. I inhale some of the fresh Denver air. Hold it for a few seconds before slowly releasing it. A calm and patient woman. That’s the person I am and that’s the person he’ll see.
After a few minutes of waiting, realization hits. If he’s banging away in there, how would he ever hear the doorbell. I slam my knuckles into the wood and continue until the hammer finally stops.
A few seconds later, metal slides against wood and the door opens.
“Can I help you?” a man’s southerner voice greets me. It’s soft, kind and makes me forget for a moment why I came by.
“Umm, hi, I’m Jana. I live next door.”
“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen you jogging around the complex.” From his voice he sounds about six feet tall and I can hear a smile in his words. He shifts and leans against the door jam. Probably checking me out. Relief surges through me that I thought to change out of my pajamas.
“They have some really nice jogging trails. You should try them out.” I say and am immediately angry at myself. Why does my voice sound husky? Why am I encouraging him to come jogging with me?
Stop it! A voice inside my head screams and I try to listen.
“I just might have to. Would you like to come in?” He asks.
“No, I just wanted to ask a favor.”
“A favor? What kind of favor?”
I clear my throat. “I work from home and all my work is around talking to clients on the phone.”
“So my putting in a bookcase isn’t helpful for that, is it?” He chuckles
I smile and shake my head.
“Well, what time are you finished with work?”
“So if I work on the bookcase after five tonight…”
“I’ll be very grateful.” I finish.
“I’m Gabe by the way.”
“Hi, Gabe. I’m Jana and thank you.” I say and turn to walk away before I say something ridiculous.
“Jana.” Gabe says. I stop at my door and turn my head towards him.
“Since you’re done with work at five, how would you like to go to dinner with me tonight?’”
My stomach twists as I think of an answer. “Sorry, I have a rule. I don’t date neighbors.”
It’s kind of the truth. I’ve never dated a neighbor.
“I can respect that. Then when I’m done refurbishing this condo and sell it. I’ll come back and we’ll do that dinner.” He says and I hear him shut and lock the door.
Stunned I go into my home. My phone rings with the next client and I shake off my discomfort and get back to my clients.
I unsuccessfully try to push our conversation out of my head and pretend it didn’t happen. I’m not a dater. The few times I have, it didn’t end well. In this case, I’m sure Gabe doesn’t even realize I’m blind. I’m going to have to figure out how to let him know.
At six o’clock the banging begins. But it doesn’t bother me. Must be the fact that I’m not on the phone with a client. By eight, there’s a knock at my door.
“Who is it?” I ask with out opening it. Blind or not, that’s just common sense. You don’t open doors to anyone this late at night. “It’s Gabe, just wanted to let you know I’m done with the bookcase and looks like I already have a buyer for the place. They want to move in tomorrow. So technically after tonght, we’re not neighbors,” he says.
I lean against the door, a mixture of excitement and dread filling me as I listen to his feet stomp down the stairs.
What mess have I gotten myself into?
Kishan Paul is an aspiring author. Mother of two beautiful children, she has been married to her best friend for over 16 years. With the help of supportive family and friends, she balances her family, her counseling practice, and writing with out sinking into insanity.