Watching Candida 117
By Colin O'Sullivan
I spend most of my days watching Candida. She is a more beautiful woman than I could ever be. She is an intensely gorgeous creature. I lack all that she has: Bountiful breasts, gleaming hair, everything. I can see her from across the gap; my glass house looks straight into her glass house. But mine is slightly above hers; raised, as I am, in this tiered system the Government has going on now for all dwellings.
I watch Candida throw things most days. Clocks, photographs, books. Her child sometimes crawls underneath a table. Or crawls out from underneath one, wild-eyed, amazed at what goes on. The baby screams for milk and Candida screams against it, clutching her breast and scratching herself. I see all this clearly. I see her partner there sometimes, too. Out of the elevator he steps with a clear briefcase—pencils, mobile phone, notepaper—and before he even bends to raise the child in his arms he is being pelted with spoons, knives, shoes. He picks up bits of mirror so that neither of them, this family, cut their bare feet. She shouts at him but I can’t hear what it is. The glass, though clear, will not permit sound to escape. She probably shouts because of his being so long next door, in 118. She can, after all, see this. My 123 and all up at least as far as the 140s can see this, the glass and system permits. But I can only guess as to what she’s shouting.
The light comes up early and the glass can't keep it out. I drink juice in the morning and look around the place. I don't go far. There is nobody else in 123, but I have enough magazines, for now at least. I recently have become really impressed by a lady in one of the magazines. She has very full lips and displays pretty incisors when she smiles. She is only in a few poses so I don't stay with her for too long, but I am impressed. Not impressed enough, however, to give up the lit hours watching Candida. With what happens in 118 now, there's much to see, and Candida’s rage at that makes me hot and flushed. My complexion is a rosy reflection on the glass. When she pounded glass walls yesterday I found I was touching myself, first cooling my palm and fingers on the glass and then touching, down there, inside the gown. I tried to do this without too much movement. 130 to 139 have a lot of viewing time this period. I think I can do this most days without being seen at all.
I know her name is Candida. He shouts it back at her and the movements of his mouth make it clear to me. The blocks above me wouldn't know my name because no one is with me to say it. They know my number, obviously. I am not clear yet what his name is, even though the person in 118 uses it more than Candida. I have not been here long enough yet to make his name out clearly. Well, of course I haven't been here long enough yet; I am on my own, after all. It will be a while before they let a partner in. It will be more difficult for me perhaps, not being as pretty as Candida, and I am not sure how I will be with a partner anyway. The magazines and Candida’s shouting are enough for me at the moment. I see myself as satisfied right now.
In the unlit hours I am left to imagine. Things grow quieter then, not that we hear noise anyway. It just feels quieter. The lit hours seem noisy, but there is only the idea of noise. We see someone drop a fork and can only imagine its ring. I certainly make very little noise, and Candida’s shouts are only as loud as I will them to be, depending on my mood and other circumstances. Though, having been here only a short time I have not been privy to too many circumstances.
A new set of magazines should arrive soon. Hopefully there will be new pictures of the lady. If not I know I can manage with Candida’s hair, and her breasts inside the gown. The shouting will be enough for me too I imagine, and soon the man will leave 118 when he finishes and stand in 117 and be hit by things, and I will cool my palms against the glass trying not to make my movements too obvious. She will pound her glass and I will try not to be seen, behind mine.
Colin O'Sullivan is an Irish writer living and working in Japan. His poetry has been published in his homeland and abroad in various magazines such as: The Shop, The Mermaid’s Purse, and The Stony Thursday Book. He has written several radio pieces for RTE radio (Ireland), some of which have been published in A Living Word, an anthology of prose featuring Irish writers.
Colin moved to Japan in 1999, to work as a teacher and began to write short stories. Recently, some of his stories have been published in England, in Staple New Writing and Crystal and in Southword (Ireland), in Carve Magazine(USA),The Taj Mahal Review (India), Pen Himalaya (Nepal) and online in Invisible Insurrection (two stories) Prose Toad, Ludlow Press, Thieves Jargon, Red Fez,LIT Vision, Whispers of Wickedness and future issues of Gator Springs Gazette and Spoiled Ink.
Photo "White Mannequin" courtesy of Monica P., Rome, Italy.
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