By: Maria Schiza
Orange peels on the heater, their smell spilled into the room. The sofas worn in. Photographs on the walls, proud, taking up space. Photographs on the shelves, in front of books or tugged in between pages, sentimental bookmarks. Stacks of books on the floor. The kitchen, always colder, white tiles, stripped tea towels. Crumbs on the table. Cups, black tea stained, left next to the sink. A jar of honey, half-open, dripping. My dad cooking dinner, his hands moving from one task to the next, now chopping, now boiling, now washing up. The corridors getting narrower, things leaned against their walls. Pilling inwards. My old mattress. A mirror. A set of drawers, white. Stacks of magazines. Another set of drawers, made of pale wood. Layers upon layers. Blue tiles in the bathroom. Anastasia bringing the radio with her when she showers, the music filtering through the thin walls. Moisture painting its flowers on the ceiling, making itself comfortable. Memories, like memorials, like the membrane between remembered and reframed. The sunlight in my room, blinding in midday, everything in sharp relief, every molecule of dust visible, and then gone. Turning the lights on. Yellow light, warm, not bright enough. The lace pattern of the lampshade projected on the walls. A tiny sofa, dressed in baby blue. Books. Shelves overflowing, a balancing bet, sometimes lost, something crashing on the floor. The neighbours, the ones downstairs, hearing the landing. A thud, maybe muffled by the carpet. The other neighbours, the ones next door, their living room pressed tight against my bedroom wall, speaking loudly at night, voices coming in, but no ghosts. A performance of privacy, hearing too much, knowing too much. Knowing we too can be pieced together by what is overheard.
Different year, different apartment. Pieces of me glued on the walls, paintings, tickets, photos, poems. Puzzle pieces with no tangible result, only an attempt at ownership. Zoe insisting on sitting on the floor. Black bed, white desk. Light blue walls, hastily done, imperfect. A huge map above the desk, all the places I’ve been to coloured in. Light blue shutters, creaking, groaning. Tiny kitchen without a door. Smell of green tea. The fridge’s low rumbling. Dimitris making coffee, going through my mugs to pick the right ones. A cupboard full of mugs. Tiny bathroom with a sliding door, always catching on itself midway. Blue tiles. A small balcony. A tree, changing seasons abruptly, letting go of all its leaves at once, blossoming during a single night. Alex walking around, fingertips pressing on the pieces of the past hanging from the walls. An army of cats, coming closer with the barest of whispers, more often ready to howl than to meow. Elena curled up on the couch, like a cat herself. The couch which is also a bed, folding out, my pillows pilling up. No elevator in the building. The stairs twisting, white and cracked, like clouds.
Different year, different country, different apartment. Green leaves printed on the duvet cover, white pillows. My plants, green and alive, placed according to their love of light. My moka pot next to the sink. A soft blue blanket, folded neatly at the foot of the bed. Dark grey carpet, good at hiding coffee stains. Farida bringing a carrot cake as a bribe, late at night. White walls. Wooden furniture, scratched in places by previous occupants. A window that does not open wide. Sounds coming in through the walls. Someone speaking in the corridor outside, their voice ringing clear as glass. Dark blue curtains, often drawn shut, radiating heat if the day is bright. Stacks of paper on one end of the desk. Stack of books on the other. A string of fairy lights reaching across. So many plugs. Kyle inspecting the few books in the room as they quickly multiply. Two bulletin boards filling up the space, filled up with photographs, paintings, notes, cards. Incarnations of the past or places far away or people far away. Conjuring. Invoking. A wall calendar. A small oven. A new oven, the previous one letting out enough smoke to choke up the room, to wake up the fire alarm. A small fridge. Only one mug, brick red. Full recycling bin. Katerina and Francesca drinking wine from water glasses, laughing. A perfect square of a table, standing on metal legs. The door handles and the kettle, also metal, fingerprints imprinted on them when touched. A wine bottle on the table, next to the mixer, next to a half-eaten pack of dates. Small bathroom. White tiles, white sink, white shower curtain. Warm floor. A sturdy door. The lock making a soft clicking sound, when falling into place.