Too many times I had been down there, so many things I’d love to have never seen. I could barely breathe but it didn’t matter. He had me pinned under his heavy torso. Light from the hanging lamp, a large, orange silk scarf drapped over it’s shade made warm, blurred patterns across his otherwise pale olive skin. The room was claustrophic hell. Thick and full in it’s measure and poise. I could see my chance but I didn’t take it. Let him woo me with his mother tongue as I lurched out from beneath him, loosening my wrists from his grip with surprising ease. I feigned laziness in attempt to seem non-threatening. It worked. I sat up on the bed, buckling my elbows and clutching my knees. My eyes away from him, I felt his weight shift. His delicate lungs intook the air in a way that seemed as though he was readying himself to tell me everything. To finally become accessible to another human being and although I wasn’t about to count my chickens, I raised a brow and turned to him. He turned away.
“Esto está de más.” He whispered, eyes drifting.
Late that night, or was the sun still up? I woke to a dripping coming from somewhere in the dark. I lie staring at The Smiths record cover in a mess of records on the floor beside my bed. Louder Than Bombs. I traced the edges of the lips of the girl there smoking. Alight in a pink haze. I focused on the letters. The Smiths. Th Smt. ths. i. Staring and thinking nothing of the quiet, not yet knowing it was that special kind of silence. One that wasn’t silence at all but a prelude to a sound I would never forget. More dripping. So much silence that I became aware of my breathing and the temperature of the room. My legs felt slightly cold but from my ass up, I was wrapped in the scarf that had been hanging on the lamp. Robert must have tucked me in before he left. My hair clung to my moist face. I didn’t wonder why he hadn’t turned the lamp off, didn’t care to know the time or anything of a world outside the dripping, my isolated light, those letters by the glow of the lamp. That falling feeling upon waking that comes from poor sleep. I stayed for a long time there just waking up until I began imagining myself on the toilet, taking a long and much needed piss. Climbing up to sit, I wrapped the scarf, which was really more of a shawl, around my shoulders and pulled my hair from my face with two quick fingers. That was when I noticed it. Below the rustling of my change in position. A fuzzy sound. A static sound, soft. I sat a moment, holding in my breath to listen. I could easily hear that this sound and the dripping were coming from the same place. I got up and walked carefully through the dark, yawning. I found the frame of the door to the bathroom and wrapped my arm inside to flip the lightswitch. The light was less abrasive than I had expected it would be, squinting as I stepped inside the room. On the counter, in a corner, hidden behind a small basket I had been using to store my makeup, jewelry and other accessories was an old, plastic, shower radio. It’s antenna pulled up slightly. It was something I had found here, it didn’t work then but here it was humming on an unoccupied station. I stepped to it, attempting to turn the dial. Blue paint had been somehow spilled on the top of the thing, It had probably been bought for the high-end novelty of it. This would have been a guest’s quarters and what a luxury to be able to listen to the radio while you bathed. I picked it up. The grainy feel of dirt and dust rubbing against painted, polished plastic. I could swear I wasn’t just hearing this whiring and felt as though I must be picking up some kind of a pattern in it. Perhaps from having been listening too closely. That wasn’t it. I wasn’t convinced. If I could just nudge the dial sligh- No, you could hear it more clearly now, it wasn’t just white noise. A muffled, fast procession of identical, short and bassy beats with snapping metallic ends to them. Over and over, this sound. Getting louder, more defined with every second. Little crescendos within the pattern now. Hollow, almost high pitched. Then a synthetic piano makes a shocking intro, a simple melody, odd and unmerciful. What seemed like hours later as I stood there, a vocal began to come through. A man’s voice, deep and somehow honest. I began to understand that he was singing of a relationship with someone. I got the feeling no matter how hard he worked at it, there was no use. He also sang of lights and photography, which I figured was meant to be showing a connection through a lense is no connection. That unnerving piano changed it’s rhythm and shape, feeling now more like it was answering it’s own sad questions from the bridge in the concluding chorus’ repeating until it would begin to fade. It didn’t end as abruptly as I was anticipating. It kept me hanging there in that room. Kept me feeling like I was hearing some inner dialogue of a person I would never meet. But really, what else is popular music but just that? Holding on tightly to the song that I feared would disappear into the static and never be heard again, I suddely realized that I knew that song. That I had heard it many times but that hearing it like this, with this device, this night, in this state of mind was the way I was meant to hear it for the first time and therefor, it was as though I had never heard it before. The song sunk back into dead air. I hardly noticed. I put the stereo down and turned to leave. There was a loud crack behind me from the stereo. It startled me so that I jumped and went bounding out of the room, my heart thumping. Just outside, I caught my breath and walked away, a shudder rushing through me and the song still clinging to my every thought.