Imaginings of Love (The #AtoZChallenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building

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Frank lived a quiet life in a quiet space on the third floor. His Studio apartment was sparse,  in its decor and in personal belongings. He lived alone, never had a visitor in the three years he lived here (except the Super to fix something that Frank couldn’t; or the delivery people, who only appeared at his doorway,  dropping off the Italian, Chinese or diner fare he ordered regularly). Frank left the building quietly, head bowed, and returned the same way. He never made eye contact, and if he ever found himself in the elevator with others he’d nod his head in Hello the very rare times someone ventured to say the actual word to him.

Frank did not want much, ask for  much, need much…or so he would say, if anyone asked him.

No one ever asked him.

If anyone had ever taken the time to notice, and if he had been open and honest with himself, Frank indeed wanted so much it the want poured out of him in seeping waves. His needs were vast, but they were shuttered away deep inside. He was the epitome of an introvert, afraid of any interaction that could go wrong, so he hid from them all. In so hiding, he became what he actually feared: being invisible.

Frank longed to be loved, in love, loving someone so completely his life would metamorphosis into anyone other than himself.  He noticed the couples and the single women in the building, the few times they crossed paths. He’d hear some leave through the rear entrance,where his one window faced, and he’d sometimes watch.

One woman caught his attention when he first moved in. She would walk her dog, using the back door to leave and enter the building. Her voice was light as she called to her Pooh, laughed and sang. Occasionally she’d walk out hand in hand with someone else, but the same guy never lasted too long, or with a girl friend or three, taking their time. Frank noticed her in all of her changing styles, her changing with the seasons. The dog had since died, and Frank did not see her that often now.

Frank did know her name, Meredith, since others had called out to her. He did not like the shortened form Merry, used more often than not. Meredith suited her, in his opinion, much better. More elegant, a grander stature. He liked the way it rolled off his tongue when he said it out loud.

“Meredith.”

When he sat down for any meal, he imagined Meredith sitting down with him. They shared meals, coffee, cookies, and discuss events of their days. Walking through the hallways, taking out the trash, doing his laundry (only when the laundry room mafia were done for the day), going to bed, rising…all were done with Meredith in mind. Frank imagined how his life would be, if he only had the nerve to actually talk to her.

He knew about Pooh’s passing by overhearing a conversation Meredith had in the elevator. It had been almost a month since he had seen her, and he then understood why. She had no real reason to use the back doorway. Frank almost said something to her then, but the elevator door opened and she was too soon gone.

So, Frank imagined love, in his studio apartment, a quiet life, living in a quiet space, on the third floor.

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Merry caught the weird guy from the third floor eavesdropping on her conversation. Everyone in the building hush talked about him, and while she noticed him from time to time, he was just one of those few in the building who were just plain…weird.

She couldn’t wait for the elevator door to open so she could get out.

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26 responses »

  1. A sad story,about someone lost in sadness, …if he could only come out of himself….or if there were someone who could draw him out instead of finding him “weird”. This one really touched me.

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  2. This is sad, but I can understand how the situation could also easily turn into ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’. It just occurred to me that if the main character were female (instead of Frank), this could easily be plain romantic and even funny (with the fantasies and all). But since it’s male, it could be seen as creepy. Sex/gender stereotypes are so powerful indeed. Great story, Stuart! Thanks again!

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    • Joy, so true. A woman can express living a fantasy life: oh, it’s just girlish dreams. A man does it, and there is an entirely different way to view him. Double standards abound all over. Thanks.

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  3. Hi Stuart .. I need to go back and read the previous instalments .. having just arrived, not via the backdoor, nor via the fire-escape .. just by the slow coach .. but love the ‘story’ you’re drawing us into .. Meredith, or Merry .. Frank or frankly not so …

    So much is often hidden isn’t it .. great read – thanks – Hilary

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  4. Sad, how the walking wounded live amongst us and go unnoticed. It’s a terrible thing to be unwanted or unloved and to not know how to change that. An excellent reminder that fear can hold us back in so many ways. As a writer, you have the power to find someone for Frank, but in real life he would probably remain alone. 😦

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  5. Wow, the perceptions abound. The quiet shy guy imagines a quiet life with a love he’s too shy to speak to while the interest of his quiet admiration just finds him weird. How true to life this often is.

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  6. Excellent story. Such an accurate snapshot of life for many lonely and socially awkward people. I am leading a book group on short stories today and think I will read it to the kids.

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      • Hi Stuart,

        The kids understood that the theme of the story is loneliness and thought it was sad. They felt sorry for Frank. They liked the story although they weren’t hugely excited about it. But then they are two active 12 year old boys and one 13 year old girl. The boys won’t get excited about anything that doesn’t have battles. Thanks.

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