Unit Number 14


Sometimes I hear people through the walls.

They are speaking in Spanish.

I have never met them.

They cough loudly.

They laugh louder.

They fight and cook loudest of all.


There is a girl in a wheelchair downstairs.

She clunks down an entire flight of stairs every morning at 9:30am.

The wheels grind against the balustrade and it sounds like she has fallen out.

She has tattoos and blue hair.

I see her at the shops sometimes.

She never lets anyone push her.

She lets them carry her shopping, but she always drives herself.


There is a baby that screams at 4am.

It is in the apartment building next door.

It sounds like the child is in distress.

I think: people should not use ‘controlled crying’ in apartment blocks.

I wish I could pick it up and hold it.

It is getting better with time.


There is a girl above who rides 14 kilometres to work every day.

I met her once in the stairwell.

It was raining outside.

She struggles to carry her bike to the top floor.

Shopping bags and backpacks and keys and gloves and effort.

But she still does it twice a day.


There is a guy who smokes at 7am every morning.

The fumes drift through the kitchen window while I wait for the kettle to boil.

The smoke and steam mingle together and dance for me.


There is a man who used to live upstairs but he died.

A policeman came to our door.

We had a polkadot beanbag and an antique rocking chair.

(We had only just moved in)

He chose the rocking chair.

It swung back violently when he sat.

His belt got caught on the arm rest.

There was a policeman sitting in our rocking chair and I almost laughed.

Basically, a man has died in his apartment this afternoon, he said.

Oh, we said.

Were you home between midday and 5pm?

No, we said.

Well then you guys have nothing to worry about.

Good evening.

Good evening.

I could hear people wailing in the car park until midnight.

I wondered how often people died around here.

It is the only case so far.


We are so happy here we are signing a 12 month lease.




4 thoughts on “Unit Number 14

  1. Beautiful! Thank you.
    PS: it can’t be raining on the stairwell. Add ‘raining outside’ and then the whole poem rings true.
    It reminds me of Don McLean’s Three Flights up.
    When we moved in here the first weekend – the first weekend – cops with guns pointed arrested a young dude while I sat (and shat) and ate fish and chips in my new ‘hood. Why did we move here, I wondered.
    It hasn’t happened since.

      1. Ha! Sorry.It is a bit gloomy but your poem captured some of that alienation. Except yours also had warmth and connection. You can’t go wrong being compared to Don Mclean!

        1. Oh oops haha – don’t apologise –
          I meant “something else” as in “breath-taking” and “incredible”. Not “something else” as in “something else”.
          Don’t mind the comparison AT ALL!
          im suck at internets sometimes.

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