thirty five - moving on

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On my way to work I pass the apartment, but this morning was different. I stopped inside and spoke with the manager of the building because the sign posted outside indicates a few open apartments.

"We have 2C, 2E, and 1A all available for occupancy."

I shake my head in disbelief. "What was the middle one again?"

The lady behind the desk gives me a flat stare before glancing at the paper one more time. "2C."

I look around the room. Her desk is dark mahogany wood and the set has two matching bookcases behind her. There's one small window with dingy blinds bent in the middle. The room is humid and smells faintly like carpet cleaner.

"That's not possible, I used to live there with my roommates and—"

The woman blinks. "It's what the paper says."

We stare at each other in silence for a few moments.

"Are you interested in taking a tour to rent the space? Our rent starts at $900 since we are in the city and there's a few things I will need to go over—"

This time I interrupt her.

"No. I'm currently homeless and broke. Can you tell me where the occupants in 2C moved?"

The woman smacks her lips and shrugs. "I'm afraid not. But you can check the paper, all real estate exchanges will be in there."

We stare at each other again and she raises her eyebrows, almost signaling me to the door. I sigh heavily and storm out of the room — and building — like a two year old. I'm angry.

Where could they have moved to? Are they even still in this city? Did they move to wherever Nigel's real family is?

The questions swirl around in my brain like water draining from a bathtub, except I'm getting stuck in the drain and can't get out. Since I've been working, I have about $1,000 saved but that won't support me alone anywhere in this city.

I slink down to the cement, my back rubbing against the glass windows of the apartment building I used to call home. I watch a few people walk by, but overall the city is quiet today. I smoke a cigarette and tap my foot against the ground, something catching the corner of my eye.

It's an old, dirty paper that looks like it's been sitting on the side of the street for weeks. The pages are blowing with each passing car. I quickly get up and grab it, but the entire thing disintegrates in my hands and I'm left with nothing but wet street dirt on my hands and little pieces of newspaper.

I sit back in my spot and wipe my forehead with the back of my hand. I bounce the cigarette between my lips and continue looking around. I'm trying to rack my brain of places nearby I could live, until I'm making enough to move somewhere better.

But then, it must have been my holy day, Nigel comes walking up the opposite end of the sidewalk. He's fishing around in his pocket for something.

"Nigel!" I cry out, standing up from the sidewalk. He doesn't seem to notice me.

"Nigel!" I say again, a bit louder. His face darts up and we make eye contact.

"What? What are you doing here?" He asks me as he shifts his keys around in his hand.

"You moved?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm handing in the keys," he says while shaking them in front of me.

"Well, where did you go?" I ask, taking another drag.

"I, uh..." he looks down at the ground, "moved in with James. Outside of the city, we have a ranch house. It's a better place there." Nigel smiles and sticks his hands back in his pocket, the only sound I hear the clinging of the keys.

"Oh. That's good. You know, Ivan and I were going to move in somewhere—"

"I don't want to be rude, but I'm on a time crunch. I really need to get these keys handed in."

I give Nigel an overly expressive smile. "Right. It was nice seeing you," I say while blowing smoke.

"Mhm," he says, walking up the steps to the building.

"Wait! Where's Kylie?"

Nigel stops in his tracks and doesn't move his body to face me. "She's in California, visiting her biological parents. She's going to stay there."

I feel my heart drop and shatter. Nigel ascends into the building and I hear the door slam with that familiar squeaking sound.

I'm going to be late for work but I want to ask him if he'd like to have lunch and talk sometime.

I suddenly feel entirely alone when I realize his answer will most likely be no.

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