Friday, August 14, 2009


In the elbow of a curving street is an orange two-story house. Shaped as a box, the house rests on the edge of a steep hill covered in ivy and yellow wild mustard and a small dense grove of eucalyptus. On the first floor, in the back of the house which faces the tall trees, is a small studio apartment. It is a small walled-off part of the downstairs garage. There is a glossy white-walled kitchen with a small white refrigerator. To the right of the fridge is a clean and empty chrome sink with a gray countertop beside it. A white gas burning stove sits perpendicular to the counter. The circular spaces below the iron burners are a little dirty and greasy from meals past. The two back burners are piled high with clean pots and pans which are two big for the tiny cupboards above the stove. Through the open doorway of the kitchen is the bedroom of pale gray walls. The floor space is nearly full with the double bed and a five drawer wooden dresser. Through another open doorway, past the dresser, is the bathroom that has a small window slightly ajar, facing north. Both the kitchen and the bedroom have one large double-paned window, facing west, which looks out onto the concrete backyard, the wooden fence at its border, and the eucalyptus grove just a couple of feet away. The entire studio, from entrance to bathroom, can be crossed in 15 steps. Tan linoleum squares that have diamond-shaped designs in the center cover the entire studio. There is a young woman in the bedroom, she lays curled up on her side facing the light coming in through the window just an inch away. The mattress is soft below her, giving slightly below the weight of her hip. All the florescent overhead lighting is off, the space is lit brightly with the incoming day. The neighbors above are silent. The day is new, just past noon. The light is bright, shielded from any warmth by a thick layer of clouds. The young woman, laying in a man’s pajama top and nothing else, has her eyes closed. Her torso is elevated by two thin pillows covered in thread-bare Disney patterned pillowcases. Her lower torso and legs are covered in two blankets. Just above her skin is a fluffy maroon down comforter, above which is a fuzzy thin blanket of red, blue, orange, and green, colors which form the image of a bright peacock. Three buttons of the pajama top are unbuttoned, exposing her chest to the cool moist air coming through the open bedroom window. Inside, a lingering smell of burnt sage combines with the subtle scent of eucalyptus leaves coming with the wind. Outside, the long, thick leaves rustle in gusts of fog coming from the sea 10 miles east. There are birds chirping outside, undisturbed by the gray weather. Her arms are drawn together towards her chest, her hands just a little above her heart. A couple of houses away, a neighbor is working in his yard, pieces of lumber fall in irregular intervals, each time making a quick sound that quiets the birds down.

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