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once a hoarder


by Glynnis Eldridge


at five am on a monday morning i step off a bus from pittsburgh in a half sleep, try to walk through a locked door to the subway (which is never closed), almost ask someone who looks cranky if they've ever seen the subways closed, decide against it, and follow them to the other subway entrance i guess i managed to forget. i come back to dad's apartment after leaving it maybe two years ago. the doorman stops me, saying, EXCUSE ME, i know who you are, your dad wanted me to tell you the key is under the mat. oh, thanks, sorry for the commotion. (commotion?) i wave to another doorman (the building is big) and he nods at me with closed eyes. i lift the mat and there is no key. it's half past five am and the radio is blaring through dad's apartment's old door with the missing lock and there is no key to this railroad hoarding apartment i sometimes call home, sometimes call someone else's home. i lean on the door and it swings open. dad is standing in the doorway with bloodshot eyes saying hello/i'm awake/i did a stupid thing/how was the bus/give me a kiss/i'm going to bed soon too.

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dad stopped hoarding, kind of. i don't know if i've been here since 2010. i can't remember. he looks different, but i saw him in march, and before i went a little west, so he shouldn't look so different to me, though he does. at 5:45 he asks me if i want some melon, some dumplings, some water, anything to drink, some blueberries? i can see the floor in every room and i am stunned. i have no appetite and say no thanks but take a dumpling anyway and try some weird green powder with water because why not, maybe because i gave someone on the subway a snack i had brought with me all the way from pennsylvania. there are files in the living room. i can kind of call it a living room. there's a small file for me. old stuff. a story i wrote in middle school about someone with an umbrella weapon, a murder mystery, a subway villain. report cards from middle school and high school. my highest grade ever: 95 in journalism. in the refrigerator there are two boxes of soy milk that i bought when i lived here in 2010, when i had been thinking i should change a lot of things about myself.

the room i sometimes stay in belongs to me and mostly my brother. the furniture i had is now missing. there is no yellow chair, there is no mirror, there are no books, there is a new desk and a cow print chair from the other room, a new lamp, metal storage units with locks and sienna curtains to finally block out all the eyes from all the windows on all the buildings i can see from this one.

there is something uncomfortable about the homeliness i feel in this apartment now. i found a picture of me and a picture of my brother. both are framed in small metal hearts. 

(i have a want to know someone more than how i know them. i hope i'm not too late. i think this happens every time.) 


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