He was alone. The cramped apartment seemed strangely empty now. He sat with his back to the window, the sole source of illumination. The sun was setting; its rays cut horizontally through the room, slicing it into light and dark.
The room was half the size of a garage he once rented in the old country. His neighbors’ apartments were all identically proportioned; he had lived here long enough to have seen them all, though it was rare to be welcomed inside because of the lack of space. The dimensions supposedly conformed to strict regulations for government-supplied housing. Based on his experience of this land, none of its natives could argue they had been treated unfairly.
He sat in what the locals called a ‘living’ room: a space for kitchen appliances plus a square table with four chairs. The wall to his left was decorated with a photograph printed on canvas. It was mounted on brackets which had once supported an outmoded television. Pencil drawings were pinned to the wall on his right. The photograph showed the man with a woman; she embraced him as he cradled a naked infant. The sketches featured fantastic places that could never exist in the real world.
Doors led to two bedrooms, a washing cubicle, and the elevator lobby for the 180th floor. With twenty-four families per floor, the locals treated the floors like neighborhoods. He could hear the neighbor’s children running around and around the central elevator shafts. At one point he thought the kids had knocked on the door, like they used to. They were sorry that Keisha would no longer join their fun, but were too young to dwell on such matters. Their racket distracted him but not enough to cause him to rise from his seat. Let the kids play, whilst there was still somewhere they could.
He had stopped reading the letter, which lay in shadow upon the table before him. The remainder of its contents could be deduced from the opening paragraph.
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