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The open air | Life of Alvin

The open air

I leave the Halloween party early. I close the door behind me and it is silent. There are new babies on the first floor of this building, I was told. It is supposed to be quiet in the vestibule of this building. Babies expect their parents to protect them from the world, and it’s common courtesy for the rest of us to make that possible.

I sneak downstairs. I enter the outdoors. A chilly breeze. Children in masks. They ask, “Is there candy in there?” To which I say no, because trick-or-treaters should not enter a building in which babies are trying to sleep.

I walk up the street, toward my apartment. The wind penetrates my coat. I can feel the sickness coming back into my lungs and poisoning my breathing apparatus with thick, sticky, opaque mucus. My legs, weak, my arms, held tight to my body, my head, kept warm by this silly wig. Only two blocks to go. And now only two blocks, minus three steps.

Just moments before, someone would’ve cared that a foreign organism was, again, turning my body into its host. In fact, they did care and they told me to go home and get better. But now, in the open air of the Brooklyn night, the zombies and the zebras and the princesses pass by and I am vulnerable and helpless. I cough. Spit out some mucus. I can breathe again. OK, one more block.

I can hear quiet voices of people telling me I should get home quickly, that I should rest. They would want me to go home to the cocoon of my apartment, my bed, my dog. And it would be common courtesy for the world to keep quiet, so that I may rest and my body may fend off this nasty bug.

But I don’t want to do that, not quite yet. Instead up heading up my stoop, I keep going. The voices go away. No one knows I’m here. No one knows I’m doing this.

In the open air of the Brooklyn night, the zombies and the zebras and the princesses pass by and I am free. I cough, spit out some mucus and I disappear.

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