I wake up to her steps, fall asleep to them, eat to them, bathe with them there, cook, TV and socialize. Her tiny steps are a part of my life; a clock ticking in the ceiling letting me know that yes, someone else is there. Someone else is living and breathing mere feet from me that I have never met. Someone else is cooking, eating, sleeping and waking up nearly the same time as me. She has a name, but I do not know it. The only physical manifestation of her presence is when clumps of dirt appear on my patio on their own having dropped down from the plant above being watered.
I’m sure she also works a 9-to-5, her steps wake up about 15 minutes before I do, warming up my room with noise and gently waking me more reliably than an alarm clock. She clomps around her bedroom getting ready while I destupor myself from the night’s sleep. Eventually I wake up and go into my shower, the one safe place her steps do not touch. I grab my coffee and walk out the door leaving her steps behind.
When I get back slightly after 5, the steps are already there pacing the kitchen doing whatever it is they do in the evening. Our building is designed to seperate; my car can be reached without even having to use some stairs, each plane of the building totally independent and rarely permeated on foot. Yet her feet slice straight through, somehow exhuding great force from a tiny frame. I’m sure that tiny frame enjoys home cooked meals though, always being made.
Sometimes late at night, 2, 3, 4am, the steps pick back up, move towards my bathroom, pause, and come back followed by a great whoosh of the pipes directly behind my headboard. Othertimes they pick up late at night and seem to dance or pace by themselves. Only ever one set of footsteps is around, I’d know them anywhere now, a distinct gait. It is a lonely gait.
One day I will bring my steps up there and meet the owner of the steps that I know so much about, such intimate exactingness of life normally shared only with a spouse. If I meet the steps, the mystery will be replaced with irritation. For now, I’ll keep the steps just steps. Turning the steps into a neighbor will be akin to taking out our picket fence, and good fences make good neighbors.