Goodnight

Each night, the last thing I do before slipping between my sheets and resting my heavy head on my pillow, is walk over to my window. In the process of reaching up to close my blinds, I stop to take a brief glance at the few lit windows in the buildings surrounding our little alley-way-courtyard of sorts. It’s quiet back there; you can barely hear the rush of the cars on the adjacent avenue nor can you see the dull shine of the streetlamps. One of the few things you can hear, along with the rustle of the wind in the leaves, is the bittersweet melody of a lone violin, drifting through a cracked window. The apartment it’s coming from is dark inside, even during the day. The only proof that someone lives there is that same song playing every night, weaving through the darkness and softening the silence with its velvety call. Some nights I see the people across the way, an old lady and her son, sitting in their small kitchen around an even smaller wooden table, window wide open, as if they’re listening too. The two of them huddle around that table once a week, Fridays for the most part but occasionally Saturday nights, playing some sort of game that I can never quite make out. Checkers perhaps or possibly backgammon. Whatever it is, they’ve been playing since we moved here and probably even before that. Most of the time the old lady sits there with a smug grin on her face, but more recently it was the son who sat smugly, raising his arms in the air in celebration. 

Just above them, another lit apartment rests just out of my sight. I can see nothing but the pale white ceiling and yet it is that apartment I am most certain about. The faltering orange candlelight, the sharp silhouette gliding in and out of my view, like a feather fluttering in the wind. Each night they perform this same ritual, precise yet smooth movements, kicks in the air so straight and tall I can almost catch a glimpse of not just the shadow on the ceiling but the person it belongs to.Once, and I may have imagined it, their dancing synced with the violin. For just one fleeting moment, they were fighting the same battle, side by side, without even knowing it. The melody slowed down and the violin bowed one fragile note after the other, while the dancer moved delicately, as if they were both afraid to shatter this moment when the entire world held its breath. The rush of the cars stopped, the joking laughter of people on the sidewalk hushed. Even the wind quieted its howling.On the street somewhere, a dog barked. The spell broke, and the city sighed, before continuing on as if those few moonlit seconds never happened. I sighed along with it, closed my blinds, and went to bed.

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