Part Five: Done
Elena took a step forward, into her hallway. She was still thinking of the sugarless coffee sitting blandly on her semi-clean kitchen counter, and of the book she’d read a dozen times but would be surprised, yet again, at its conclusion.
The air in the apartment was stale. It had been months since she’d last opened a window to let in fresh air, and almost as long since she’d actuallyventured out into the hallway--living moment by moment in the staleness of her apartment, then taking a brief journey out of it, then returning made Elena realize just how oppressive the air in her apartment had become.
Now she had a task. Before the coffee, the book, the chair beside the living room window she never looked out of, she would now have to pry open that window to let in the soft early spring breeze.
She would try not to look out at the park across the street. Too depressing. It reminded her of her late husband, and the walks they once took, and of his death, and of the walks she took there to console herself, and of her decaying body full of creaks and sharp pains.
“I hope I die before I get old,” she croaked to herself.
Behind her, Mrs. Guzman flinched. That awful voice, she thought. Jesus, it must be destroyed.
Mrs. Guzman tensed her muscles, and was unaware that she was floating a half-inch above the obnoxiously-patterned hallway carpet. When she sprang forward, she screamed. Elena didn’t hear the scream. Elena had one hand on her doorknob and was taking the last shuffling step across the threshold.
Mrs. Guzman slammed into the old woman’s back.
Then Mrs. Guzman slipped through Elena. Then Mrs. Guzman, too, was inside Elena’s apartment hallway, staring into the tunnel of light.
Elena shut the door behind her, passed through Mrs. Guzman without a word, and limped her way to the living room window. She parted the curtains, nearly toppling forward into the glass. Grunting slightly, Elena’s twisted fingers pried open the window and shoved it upwards. Even though she’d promised herself she wouldn’t look, she looked.
Inwood Hill Park had changed since she last looked out on it. For one thing, she didn’t recall so many dead bodies, ripped and bloodied. Last time she’d seen the park, most everyone playing on the hill was alive, moving, running, laughing, talking. She was certain about that.
“Bloomberg,” she muttered. “That man can’t do anything right.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Guzman, through a series of observations, was coming to terms with her current corporeal state and the many implications of not, in fact, having one. “Elena,” she said sharply, loudly.
Elena didn’t respond.
“Your apartment smells like cabbage,” Mrs. Guzman said.
Elena stared out of her window. There was a small child on the hood of a car. The child's left leg was missing--it appeared to have been shredded before removal--and a portion of her head was gone.
Elena stepped away from the window, promising herself she’d never look out of it again.