“Muted” by Kirin Khalsa

Shelby stands in her rundown apartment on fifth street. She prefers calling it hip or artsy but the floorboards were squeaky and the flower wallpaper from the previous tenant Ms. Greene was peeling off of the wall. Don’t question how we know the exact layout of our neighbors’ apartments, we could tell you, it wouldn’t be hard, we just don’t feel up for it. Maybe after a piping hot cup of coffee and a trip to the Brooklyn Zoo, maybe, just maybe, we would tell you.


Shelby is talking to Yolanda, her old college roommate. It is Yolanda’s birthday. What a time to be alive. We take a blank card and pink scented envelope out of our wooden drawer and draw the curtains, clicking on the lamp by our desk. Taking out a pen from our red metal pencil case, we write Happy Birthday Yolanda! on the card, stick the sticker inside, chuckle, lick the seal, wipe off the blood, and flip it over. We write her address on the front and ours in the corner, sticking a kitten stamp on the top right.

While we were composing the birthday card, we overheard some juicy news. Yolanda’s boyfriend from Ohio State had been in a horribly tragic accident. We snickered because we knew it was no accident. If only the police department looked harder, just gave it one more stab, they would see us, for we are right in front of them. Of course then Yolanda is heartbroken, she thinks her world is being turned upside down.

Mr. Rowley was awake, we could tell because his coffee maker had just clicked on. The noise was loud and the sound of the dripping coffee was unbearable. We put in earbuds. Tapping our feet along to Norah Jones, we slice the tomato into six strips, placing them on our sandwich, wishing Mr. Rowley took a terribly tragic fall down the mucky staircase, perhaps then the sound wouldn’t be as loud. Thinking about the mucky staircase, we question where Mick the janitor had wandered off to. Then we remember. It was such a disturbing sight, the way his body was shoved so daintily into the service elevator. We know how hard it must have been to gracefully sling his corpse into that tiny space.

Our train of thought is broken when we hear Mrs. Jeanette Fergus unlock her car. We run to the window, peering through the slightly tainted curtains. She is an interesting one. We knew where she is going. She isn’t going to Out of This World Coffee Shop like she told her husband she was, she’s going to see someone. Someone who she wants to keep secret from Mr.Fergus, but, unfortunately, someone we don’t want kept secret. Secrets destroy. Secrets are just lies waiting to be told.

We grab a red ceramic mug out of the counter, filling it up with the murky water coming from the sink. People have been complaining about the taste of the water for a few weeks, how it tasted faintly like their old grandmother Bessie or their dog’s putrid water bowl that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. We think it tastes like our neighbor Abigail Berns who mysteriously went missing a few weeks back, well we didn’t think, we knew. Abigail may have taken a tragic tumble into the water tower a while back. It was such a shame that she couldn’t swim….

We take out our pocket calendar and open to this week, 11/4/84 – 11/10/84. We think for a minute, we hate to work during the week so we look at the weekend. Saturday is our favorite day…oh look, it’s completely open. Perfect. We mark Ms. Greene down for 11:00 am, Yolanda at noon, Mr. Rowley at 2:00, and Mrs. Jeanette Fergus at 4:00. We wipe the sweat off of our brow…Saturday will be a busy, busy day.


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