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Housemates by Terry Cummings
SUMMARY: For all those that like to share...
Had I been afraid before then it is nothing that holds memory for me. There is surely no other time in my life when I have sat still and quiet in a darkened room, waiting for the noises outside my door to relent. And there is no other time in my past when I have felt this hungry. Hungry to the point where I am choking back acid bile and watching my face grow thin and gaunt in the mirror as my body consumes its own excess in order to survive.
Sleep is a fortune that brings short relief, but it is a fortune that I have lost with the grips of starvation which has deprived my body of the ease needed to allow such rest.
Should I die from fear alone? No it is the conditions that fear brings. The circumstance.
Even as I write this, I find that my language is faltering, the words that I thought I knew so well are all falling juxtaposed upon one another and fighting for meaning in ways that deplete one anothers efforts.
I heard them last night, at least eight, maybe as many as twelve. They were snuffling around in the light of the kitchen, talking to one another in their own manner. I could of course have had no idea of what they were saying but there was humour in it I am sure, because every now and then the mess of conversation would crescendo and there would be something akin to laughter.
Something wild and powerful.
I could hear cupboards opening and closing, the sound of cans being popped open. The moving of bowls, plates, cutlery.
I have heard them come to my door, sniff at it, their shadows shifting in the thin sliver of light that met the floor, and then they would leave for a while.
Five days now. A sixth I will not be able to bear. I have been eating from the pad of paper I found in one of my suitcases. I will leave just enough to finish this and when I have finished the last page, either written or consumed, I will make a break for my freedom. By then the desperation will hopefully be greater than the fear.
At least that is my hope.
Maybe I can last seven days.
I heard the sound of a guitar playing once, in the kitchen, I recognised a few of the tunes but the sounds of singing falling into accompaniment soon dispelled any illusion of normality.
The landlord had been right to have accepted my counter-offer concerning the amount of rent he wanted for the room. When it comes down to it I'm surprised he didn't just offer it to me for free. But then I would never have taken it of course. I had haggled on the price and had come to a point lower than I had paid for any other room in the area before. It was cheap and close to work. From the kitchen you could see the high rise building where I worked through the window. I could walk there in six or seven minutes, which would mean I could stay in bed later.
That first afternoon when I had met the small Indian landlord was the last time I had seen the kitchen. That was the last time I had seen anything of this place other than the hallway and the confines of my own room.
I had noticed the smell on that first day, it had been the heavy stench of rotting meat, but I had dismissed it as being a badly prepared meal the night before.