All the while, music sweeps down from upstairs. Sweet rolling notes, coming down to find me. No muffled sounds, not in this thin-floored chalet. It takes me all night to fall asleep.
That morning, I'm walking by the bay, ignoring the water, keeping my eyes cast down. Concrete fissures are always more interesting to me—somehow more organic—than those endless sheets of weak ocean. She's waiting for someone at the corner. She's wrapped up in layers, a patchwork of fabric, the mass of clothes making her somehow smaller than she is. I stop just down from the opposite corner, leaning up against a wall and lighting a cigarette. Through these sweet chemicals I watch her, blue smoke my only screen.
It's death by a thousand cuts, or so they say, that hurts the most. I'm sitting right by the blare of a blank whiteboard, staring incessantly at the untold number of bland presentations not quite rubbed out, sitting ghostlike behind the fresh lines made by a man in armour-grey suspenders. I picture all the bleary disappearing afternoons this whiteboard has weathered, all those punctuated swathes of ill-informed strategy, all those points not quite got across.
Dinner is with my reflection, that isometric me tearing veal in a tilted mirror somewhere above my head. Around me are people with meaningful connections to one another, talking, clinking, toasting. Thin cords run from tiny buds in my ears back down inside my jacket, bringing me closer to the sad music I chew to.
And, that night, more music finds me. Turning sideways on a clotted pillow, sweet rolling notes come down to find me.