Every morning, when I go out to feed the birds, I see her standing in her balcony. She’s my age. Wearing a peach or pink nightdress, her hair uncombed, she stands there facing the rising sun, looking at nothing in particular. She’s leaning on the railing, her hands clasped together. Her face says she’s miles away from where she’s standing. She is the new daughter-in-law of the family on the floor below. She spends her whole day at home.
We do not acknowledge each other’s presence in the morning. In the evening, we sometimes bump into each other. She’s going for a walk with her husband when I am coming back from work. She is dressed prettily and clinging to his arm. I look like I am walking out of a tornado. The elevator does not stop at her floor, because I have commanded it to go to mine.
I don’t know her name. She does not know mine. We face each other through the iron bars and smile. For the time it takes for a rickety elevator to travel up one floor, we both wonder what it would be like to live the other’s life.