Hello Neighbors

Or what I think about when I take the elevator with my neighbors

I am forced or coerced to take the elevator with my neighbors whom I have never met. We live next door to each other and sometimes I hear them cooking, our kitchens touch stove to stove. But I have never seen them. I wonder if they have ever seen me. Do they hear me cooking too? This man, he waves me into the elevator. He carries or cradles a Bible. It is Sunday. God’s day. Hangover day. I choose the corner of this small three person elevator. I smell his cologne. His wife joins us and the doors shut. I smell her hair spray. They are ready. Ready for what?

What do we mean when we say ready? I am ready or I am the best version of myself for this occasion. This is how I imagine myself or how I should be at this moment. My actions are appropriate for this moment. I am ready or prepared for what is to come. I am ready and these people are ready, but I am ready for the grocery store, ready to buy tortillas and potatoes. They are ready to listen with ears half open, ready for God.

His suit is freshly washed without stain and her scarf draped softly over shoulders. They are clean and I wonder if my unwashed curls are forming an A on my dirty jacket- embroidered there. Can he read the smudged black lines under my eyes? Can he smell Atheism on my unbrushed breath? Or does he just smell the gin salt on my skin? Perhaps he smells nothing, sees nothing.

We get out of the elevator and he smiles at me. I tell them to have a nice day and she responds, “you too dear.” We part ways. They are ready and I am still ready.

About Caren

Creative writing professor, craft beer enthusiast, & general foodie- so basically a typical alcoholic poet living in London.
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