The light through the bedroom window is bright, horribly bright, and focused through the bent slats of the Venetian blinds like East German spotlights during the Cold War. First thing I do is get new curtains, I think to myself, once I am awake enough to be somewhat coherent. Or at least hang up a sheet.
I fumble for my phone on the small table beside the bed, and check the time: up at the crack of noon. Too early to suit my tastes, but seeing as I’m awake already, I decide I might as well get up and have some breakfast. I generally do some of my best writing on an empty stomach, but then following that I also do my some of my best file deletions after a donut or two afterward, so I’m trying to work on a more efficient route from one to the other.
I grab my glasses and slip them on as I stumble out the bedroom and down the hall toward the bathroom. The hardwood is cold against my feet, and I think that I maybe should have put on socks before going to bed last night. I probably also should have put on pants and a shirt, because the rest of me is also exposed, and now suddenly chilly as well, which is rather odd. I hadn’t been able to find a way to turn off the heat in the apartment on my first night here, and so I’d resigned myself to going to bed with nothing but a single thin sheet between my skin and the scorching air, which had overnight achieved the nuclear temperature of burning hydrogen.
It’s like I’d fallen asleep on the surface of the sun, and then woken on the back side of Pluto. In winter. In the shade.
I quickly debate the advantages of returning to the bedroom to grab a parka and a bundle of kindling from the closet, with which to build a life-saving campfire, against the suddenly nearly-overwhelming need to visit the toilet, and decide that a little frostbite never really hurt anyone. With a bit more urgency in my step, I move with purpose toward the closed door, grasp the ice cold knob, and fling it open without breaking stride.
“Do you mind?” Rivi asks from the tub, waving a wet arm at me and splashing. “I’m in here!”
I shriek in a high-pitched, although extremely manly, fashion, and slam the door shut. The hardwood feels even colder as it presses against my bare bottom, as I have now stumbled backwards over my own frozen feet and fallen, although also in an extremely manly fashion, to the hallway floor.
“And put some pants on!” she shouts through the door. “Have some consideration!”
“Dammit, Rivi! How the hell did you get into my apartment?”
“I was right about the bars on the kitchen window,” she replies. “Hardly even needed the screwdriver to get them off.”
I crawl on my hands and knees the few feet from the hallway to the kitchen, and peer around the corner to see the window there raised wide open, security bars dropped haphazardly across the floor. The autumn wind blowing in across the concrete tundra of the parking lot outside raises a fresh mountain range of goosebumps across my bare skin. “Dammit,” I say again.
“Not my fault,” Rivi yells. “I don’t have a key yet.”
I get up off the floor and walk past the closed bathroom door in the direction of my bedroom.
“Because it’s my apartment, Rivi. Why would you need a key to my apartment?”
There’s a splash from the tub. “In case I need to take a bath, obviously.”
“Last time I was at your place, there was a tub in your bathroom.” I take my bathrobe off the back of the bedroom door and cocoon myself inside it.
“Your tub is iron. Obviously it’s superior to mine.” There is more splashing, and then a moment later the bathroom door opens. Rivi comes out, hair wet, my only towel wrapped around her. “You need better shampoo though. That stuff is way too cheap to be any good.”
“I’ll make a note of it for next time I’m at the store.”
She walks past me into my bedroom, where now that I’ve got my glasses on I see that she’s left a fabric bag on the floor outside my closet. She picks it up and upends it on my bed, making a small pile of her clothes and toiletries. “Only chance to back out,” she says, rooting through her things. “Five seconds and the towel comes off.”
“You’re evil,” I tell her.
“I brought donuts. They’re by the microwave.”
“Still evil,” I say.
“Towel’s coming off,” she says.
I sigh, defeated. “I’ll make coffee.”
“Good idea,” she says. I start to back out of the room and move to pull the door closed behind me.
“And hey,” she says, before I have it fully closed.
“You should really shut the window in the kitchen,” she says. “It’s colder than Walt Disney’s cryo-tube in here.”