Bespoke Magazine

The Neighbour

Originally published in Bespoke Magazine

I missed the alarm clock. I waddle toward the balcony, navy blue boxers tangled at my ankles. I look down and her black car is still there. I’m seething and panting, my face glistening and morning glory jutting out in front of me. Zoom in on her window across from mine, she’s still asleep. I’m relieved. I walk back to my room and slump on my grey futon. Stare at the off-white ceiling and picture myself lying next to her because it calms me. I use an emollient hand cream to make my palms and fingers as soft as her skin. I’ve painted my fingernails yellow because it’s the colour of the polish she chose last night, as she lay on a wooden chaise longue in a corner of her terrace, ravishing legs resting limply on the low aluminium balustrade, as I perched on a ladder in my coal-black kitchen, eyeing her through a barely open awning, completely losing myself.When I come to, I wobble to the bathroom. Wash my hands in a bucket filled with Badoit because it has sufficient sodium to unclog my pores but not enough fizz to give me a rash. I muster the courage to look at myself in the mirror and notice that the sty on my eyelid has hardened. I refuse to let her see me like this. I retch for a few seconds but manage to stay composed, swallowing everything back in. I slather on a medical cream and put on my Wayfarers – the thought of her noticing my imperfections pains me deeply. I distract myself by removing the nail polish.

I bound up the stairs back to my room and carefully choose my outfit for the day. A grass green cashmere sweater – turtleneck to cover the gash from the liver-grey stray cat that clawed me last night as I choked it to death and dumped it on the new neighbour’s lawn, with a note demanding that he stop flirting with her. A pair of dark charcoal pleated wool trousers, the same ones the now- deceased ex-boyfriend she once loved, wore. An ivory white pair of sneakers with black stripes, vintage to make me look younger because I damn well know she likes them young.

I don’t go to work because I can’t stand not being able to see her. Having a job was dreadful enough, until my wealthy grandmother fell down the stairs when
I’d invited her over one weekend – an accident, of course – and a substantial inheritance delivered me from the working classes. Since then, I’ve been religiously setting my alarm to exactly an hour before she does, waking up and mechanically slinking to the balcony to watch her sleep, then slowly wake. As she just did. I’m aroused again as she gets into the shower, despite the cerulean curtain blotting out her nakedness. I tail her down the stairs and into the street, to her car. Start the engine, methodically allowing three vehicles to slide between us. I park outside the café where she works, adjust my hair in the mirror, smear skin-beige foundation on any remaining spots on my face. I grit my teeth in lust and anger and I don’t know why. I pull myself together. Breathe in. March towards the terrace gate. Breathe out and slouch on a stainless steel garden chair. My mouth waters at the sight of her in uniform – black ballerinas, mini-skirt and a sedulously unbuttoned white shirt. She’s always perfect.“Good morning, sir,” she says, ever so cheerfully.
“Good morning, Cindy,” I mutter. My voice never sounds like my own.
“Always so punctual.” She gives me a kittenish wink and my stomach drops. I nod and look down because I know I can’t contain myself. I start to sweat.
“The usual, sir?”

Her scent overwhelms my nostrils. My hands quiver. It takes me back to the moment before her ex died, squealing like a pig as I watched him fade away, with her scent all over him, slowly possessing me, making me feel the way it must’ve felt when he made love to her. I’m trying to speak but my jaw is clenched. My lips are flapping. I’m losing it. My voice is gone. I somehow manage a nod. Thank goodness. She turns around and leaves my side. The same routine. Every single day.

It’s almost midnight and I’m on the balcony watching her. She opens the door and the new neighbour enters. My heart stops when she greets him with a kiss. I have to endure them having dinner together. And it looks like he’s sleeping over. Foolish child, he leaves me no choice. I’m slavering in anticipation. Images of the future flash through my head. I ruthlessly stab every bit of his body. Sever his full lips. Squeeze his throat until his tongue turns blue. Chop off his perfect nose and try it on my face. Dig his beautiful green eyes out of their sockets and guzzle them instantly. Gulp down his heart and taste the love they shared. I’m turned on by the thought of it all. I take a Xanax to relax. Then another, to help me sleep. I cross out one more day on the calendar on my wall and I realise it’s been ten years. As I crawl into bed, that makes me smile.
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