Children In The Hall (A to Z Challenge)


Welcome to the third of twenty six stories during the month of April

Welcome to The Apartment Building


From elevator to the apartment door you must run the gamut of an interior passage, the hallway; every building has them.  It’s not a living space; it is a vacant area that leads you, sending you in directions. It has no other purpose but to move you along to your destination, or away from it.  While you travel layouts in buildings you know-apartment, business or otherwise- understand that the Swan Rise Apartments has a straight corridor that connects both wings of the building, with an inverted L shape at each end for an apartment-like cul-de-sac.  Un-imaginative or just practical, it serves its purpose.

The hallways are busiest in the weekday mornings. The early to work risers lead the way, followed by those off to school and the just-making-it-to-work on timers. Things quiet down until the Laundry Room Mafia takes over. They wheel their creaking carts along the tiled floors, making that “bumpity-bumpity-barump” cascade of sound that lies flat all around until they reach their destination.

It’s quiet then. The hallway is like a no-mans land, lone figures furtively moving along from apartment to elevator, elevator to apartment, a few venturing out to toss the trash down the chute, then return to their abodes to lock themselves in again. These are the At Homes, and their number grows as the building also gets older.


Swan Rise used to be a mecca of a different kind. They’re mostly grown up now, surly distant teens, or the families have moved out along the way, or they’ve left the building and their families behind. Most of their visits are few are far between, if they come back at all.

The hallways used to reverbrate with the sound of children on every floor.

Every floor.

Mr. Bob Fields misses the days the building was full of kids and young families. He misses his own. There was  life, a vibrancy, a different feel to the place.  The smells of holiday cooking still ramble along the breadth of each floor, but the laughter…

The laughter was often missing.

In it’s place was a plethora of barks and yaps from the yappy little apartment dogs. They took the place of children, solace for the empty nesters but not for those who felt a dog was not a little white floor mop that had to prove its power in its constant barking.

It was that dissonace that greeted Bob when he stepped off the elevator, made a right,  and headed down to his place. He swung his keys around, having to readjust the numerous bags he was carrying. His wife always asked him why he didn’t take the shopping cart. “I forgot” was his usual answer. She gave him a silent scolding, which was her usual response.

Putting the plastic bags down on the table, he removed his jacket and went to work. Scissor snipping, sorting, dividing into exact amounts, then filling up his baggies and putting them all in a row, Bob was satisfied. Now, he just had to wait.

It was getting towards dusk, and there was a mood change in the building. Everyone knew it, waited for it, anticipated it. Not everyone relished it. They hid inside their holes, sequestered, wishing nights like this would just go away.

Not Bob. He relished it, longed for it, desired it to be more often. It was a night of devilment that he always loved, and while Beth, his wife, would have none of it, Bob lived for times like this.

There. There it was. A noise in the hallway, at the other end.

He got ready. Walking towards the front door, Bob turned off switch after switch until the front of the apartment was in darkness. A glow that could only be described as eerie was eminating from a lone candle that was  flickering (like Bob’s anticipation?) was the only source of light now.

Bob waited.

Closer. The sounds were getting closer. He could hear rustling sounds, shhhh’s going around, some low muffled grumblings, then…his doorbell rang.

Shouts went out:

“Trick or Treat!”

Bob flung the door open wide. This year he decided on puppets instead of a costume. He had a witch, fortune teller and  wizard hand/rod puppets ready for the evening. This first Trick or Treat of the night was special:  a large hairy blue monster, reminding him of Grover, but that was lost on these kids, he was sure.

“What you want?” the Blue Monster growled out. “Trick…or treat?”

Twelve in all; a good first gambit, Bob thought.

“Trick!” they yelled, both children and adults.

“OK…Bye Bye!” and Bob (as Blue Monster) slammed the door shut.

The parents laughed, as did their children. As did Bob, and Beth, who had inched her way up to the door to see the little ones in their costumes. She touched his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

Opening the door, every face that was not masked was alit with a smile. The eyes through the masks glinted as well. Halloween bags of goodies were handed out, thank you’s were said, and the troop went on to their next victims, as Bob closed the door.

Beth said: “Can I do the next group?”

Blue Monster gave her a pat on her behind, making his way to the kitchen to make them both a cup of tea.


36 responses »

  1. Hi~
    Stopping by from the A to Z challenge – I’m number “so far down the list I’m under water”. Nice short piece – clever and well done. You have a great voice.


  2. I love this one. I never really thought about the hallways in apartment buildings, but oh the stories they must have to tell. I imagine that a hallway without children would be a lonely hallway in some ways. I’m loving this series.


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