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And I start locking the doors at night because I am afraid of coming down for a glass of water and happening upon a TV smasher. Here’s what these TV smashers are up to this summer: they break into houses, drag the televisions out into the alley, smash them, and leave them there. No one is really sure whose job it is to clean it up, and so they lay there glistening in the sun like bottomless puddles, further pulverized every day under the tremendous weight of passing vehicles.

My roommate and I fill an empty bedroom with a subletter who sings to herself. Sometimes quietly, sometimes not. 

In the bathroom, the window beside the toilet looks into her office (an addition) and I can hear her talking to attorneys when I pee. I’ve recently read something about the importance of hydration. I think: if I could just get a little more hydrated…

“Kill, fuck, or marry:” says the subletter one night in the living room, stretched out on the taupe, microfiber sofa beneath the air conditioner. And then she names the cat, the dog, the other dog. The whole ground floor smells like animal urine and the commercial break ends and the guest host reappears and says, “It’s time for final jeopardy!”

A drunk man knocked on our door back in the spring. I thought he might be having an emergency, but he only wanted to know if I would kiss him. My roommate came from behind me to tell the man “We don’t have time for this.” And then when it got warmer the little girl next door came over barefoot and asked to help me water the plants.

The greatest plot arc of the subletter’s day is agonizing over what to have for dinner. She comes into my room and looks at my desk. “You live like this?” she asks. I said once that I’d replace her window screens, but I never do, and all summer long she watches birds pull bits away to insulate their nests. 

I often wonder if I’m too soft for this transient city of going-away parties. As a girl, my grandmother cried if she came home from school and found that her mother had rearranged the furniture. This isn’t to say that I cried, just 

that when a friend reads a draft they might ask, “Does the subletter have a name?” and I might reply, “let’s not get too attached.” And maybe when she leaves, she’ll step over a rain-soaked baby rat, lying dead in the middle of the cement front porch.