The Ancient Modern
The Noise From The Party / Joshua Alan Sturgill
THE NOISE FROM THE PARTY in the next apartment seems to be getting louder. The building is old. It shakes and creaks. They must be dancing. Pictures on my walls shift uneasily; erratic rings dance on my cup of water. Don’t push the walls down while you’re still inside the house, you idiots, I say aloud to no one. Do I hear laughter or is it screaming? My light fixture shivers a little as it sways. Two of five bulbs need replacing.
That crack under the window in the plaster. I haven’t thought about it for a while. Is is getting bigger with all the shaking? I can see former tenants’ color choices inside it — five or six colors. The deepest are flat, even tones of leaded paint. So that’s looking back how far? Into other lives, other times. The landlord never repaired it. It will grow until the whole building is inside it, like a black hole.
Distinct cheers now. One voice above the others. Someone is angry? I can’t tell. Don’t push the walls down while you’re inside the house. It should be a proverb. I imagine it: the crowd in the next room all leaning, hammering, shoving themselves gleefully against the walls and furniture. They look greedy — for what? What do they want? They look triumphant — at a victory I suspect is far from certain.
The music keeps changing. They’re fighting over music. Fighting over who gets to play music, over whose thoughts get to be loudest in the air. I walk to my window. The window frame is swollen in the humidity, but with a little force, I lift it and lean out into the damp air. There’s so much noise from the party next door, so much emotion, so much chaos. The city heat and smell of traffic are, in contrast, a small relief.