We hear shuffling from the background, plastic bags, bottles, a deep sigh, and a set of keys. Keys that won’t fit the hole until her fourth try. Welcome to the apartment. In goes Dani – short for Daniela – a 25-year old architect turned slacker major in cigarette smoking and gallivanting. She isn’t a heroine, she’s a mess.
Dani places the bags on top of the table which serves – apart from it being a dining table – as a computer work desk, a mini bar, and just recently, a place where everything goes. By everything I mean Dani’s cell, last night’s pizza box, dirty dishes, smelly clothes, and a bunch of other things I am not considering to tell you about. What I’m trying to say is: this place blows.
It wasn’t like this before. A 38-square meter apartment is small, that is true, but she had it under control. It was clean and organized and smelled like a place you would want to retire to after work. Now it feels like a black hole where broken dreams and homeless hipsters belong.
She sits comfortably with her back hunched a little, her dominant hand feeling the back pockets of her jeans for her lighter. Her head slightly moves to the left as she lights her cigarette and catches a glimpse of what she looks like in the full mirror her mother gave her as a house warming present three years ago. She mouths fuck in a very unsexy way, turns to her right, and takes a long drag.
You see, Dani examines her life the way she examines her body. The moment she sees a tiny speck of imperfection, she turns the other way and lets it be. I don’t know what her deal is, to be honest, but I see this as an escape plan gone wrong. Like her drinking problem, or the fact that she AWOL-ed from work and her social circle, or the hideous cave she’s been calling home, or the mosquito bites covering her skin like a sleeve tattoo. She is spiraling down and she knows it.
Three months ago, this was not the case. She wasn’t alcoholic, or unhygienic, or irresponsible. Dani was full of life, positive in a sense that she takes everything one tiny step at a time. She was happy and brings charisma to the table. She was the confidante her friends always run to whenever they have problems; the one who has enough love in her heart for everyone. That was the case until the Nicholas Incident.
She stands, her head throbs as she does, walking towards the stereo. She turns the iPod on and we hear a familiar voice. The National fills the quiet with About Today’s intro. In comes Matt Berninger’s deep, growling baritone:
How close am I to losing you? How close am I to losing…
If heartbreak had a voice, it would sound like this. Dani keeps listening to the band’s discography despite the countless strong feelings it evokes, some of which she isn’t able to cope with. She does this until she’s a little bit buzzed and drunkenly lays her head on a pillow for a good night’s sleep.
Well tonight’s kinda different, I guess. As if contemplating whether to drink herself to sleep, she meticulously surveys the bottles of cheap vodka she bought in the retail store across her apartment building. What’s wrong now, D? Aren’t you going to empty that so we could get over this day and call it the usual? Eventually, she opens one and drinks from the bottle. Looking at her like this hurts me in a way. She isn’t supposed to be basking under the gloomy clouds forever. She needs help. The cuts covered by her sweatshirt confirm that but you wouldn’t know.
Nobody notices so nobody knows.
“One gulp for the wounds that never heal,” she whispers. “And another! For the sutures your memory keeps tearing out!”
Dani has no friends, no family, nobody. She only has me.
And I, I’m just a figment of her deranged imagination.