Near the end, they fought constantly; the shouts and rumblings from below almost becoming another rhythm to the creaks and sighs of the old house we shared.
But this one discordant; this one malicious and terrifying.
Every night another screaming match, another shitty day at work, another day the dog was walked.
Doors slamming, the baby crying, the dog barking.
Jesus, man! Nobody stood by you when you needed them. Only me. I’m the only one you fucking have and now if you’re not going to fucking smarten up, I’m not sure what I’m going to do! Stop being such a little stuck-up bitch!
You’re the bitch! You’re the one who’s not worth a fucking shit you fucking asshole bitch!
You listen to me. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Don’t make me say it again. Jesus, man. Fuck!
I CAN’T EVEN FUCKING LOOK AT YOU!
THE FUCKING BABY IS CRYING OH GOD THE BABY IS CRYING ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY NOW?
WHAT’S WRONG? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?
I tried turning up the T.V., or going into the other room. I tried staying out a little later after work and visiting my parents’ place on the weekends.
We bought a sound machine to drown out the noise.
But it was no good making excuses.
So, I just listened.
I listened every night, every time they started fighting.
Just in case.
If things went from bad to worse.
Thinking all the while, when I hear it, I’ll know. When it happens, I will call.
And then, when the landlord said the people downstairs would be out by the end of October, I realized that as much as I wanted them to move out and leave us for good, forever, that as much as I wanted to rest easy, finally, in my own home, what I really wanted was for them never to have moved into the house in the first place.
It’s been two weeks now since the downstairs neighbours moved out and the days before that were some of the worst ever. But no call was placed.
I didn’t call.
At night I listen to the silence of the house and breathe in the stillness all around me. It is in those moments that I think about them, still, and wonder where they have gone and why the left and what brought them to the apartment downstairs in the first place.
And I sometimes wonder, now what will they do?
What will they do without me?