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“Braided essay, story, or poem” prompt from Saturday’s writing group.

Apartment 101

Anna and Bob are arguing again. Their voices spilling down the hallway, bouncing off the concrete and hanging out with the half-dead potted plant.

She wants a man who will buy her happiness.

He wants to know where he can get some for himself, how much it’ll be, and if the struggle to get there is worth getting off the couch.

Apartment 102

Carlos has been kicking the heavy bag in his studio for well over an hour. The yelling next door reminds him of his father, his uncles, his mama and all the people he left behind to come here.

The rhythmic pounding of flesh to leather also reminds him of his father.

At least it drowns out the yelling.

Apartment 103

Dawn has been high for about three years, but she’s recently discovered the best one yet. The pastor on television wants to save her and like all the other pushers, all he wants is money.

Saved. The word holds a prospect of peace and clarity she can’t wait to get her hands on. She wants to be saved.

She’s looking for her wallet.

Apartment 104

Emilio is watching Fabiola cook rice and beans. He’s anxious and he’s hungry and he’s wishing his mama hadn’t gotten remarried and told him he needed to move out. He’s hoping he can talk Fabiola into coming and cooking every night. He gets so hungry living off cereal and chips.

Fabiola’s stirring in turmeric and saffron and hoping she doesn’t burn the rice, that he’ll let her stay since the landlord locked her out of her apartment for not paying the rent.

Apartment 105

A lone ceiling fan spins. The place otherwise sits empty, full of the smell of Fabiola’s shampoo and spicy cooking. It’s waiting for its mistress to return.

Apartment 106

Grant and Hector are counting twenty dollar bills on the scarred table they got off the street. They aren’t speaking because each is planning a way to steal from the other.

Grant shifts his legs so he can get to the pistol holstered at his left ankle.

Hector rubs his nose and glances at the steak knife on the bar beside their empty plates.

Apartment 107

Iphigenia is off her meds.

People are after her. She’s sure.

People are talking about her. She knows. She hears them.

She’s sure there’s a bug in the hall palm. If she can find her baseball bat, she’ll take care of it for good.

Apartment 108

Jack looks at the estimate to get rid of the mold in the building A/C ducts. He knows if he gives it to the owner, the guy’ll fire him for sure. Hire someone who won’t make any trouble, create any expenses.

He looks up the symptoms associated with the mold. Decides, eh, they aren’t so bad. Most of the residents don’t stay too many years. Many are crazy anyway.

He figures he should look for a new place, though.

Apartment 109

Keenan knows what has to be done. All the filth and the disease of the world. He’s been keeping a log of it since he moved in seven years ago. It’s growing. It’s festering.

He lights a match and then a fuse.

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