Once I snuck into an abandoned home weeks before it was torn down. I still remember creeping under the fence, keeping a look out for neighbors, listening for squatters, not wanting to surprise or threaten anyone. It was dusk, so the interior was dark enough to make me wish I had brought a flashlight. I just took a walk through; let myself hear the floor boards and wondered about who the building’s first occupants might have been. When was the place new? 1946? I loved being in there. I loved feeling my heart racing. I made myself walk into every room and closet both upstairs and on the main floor. But I couldn’t work up the nerve to go into the basement.
Now there are condos on that lot. Brand new modern gorgeous condos. I toured one of the places when they were up for sale. I walked through each room acting as if I might actually sign the papers, “What’s the square footage again?”
On Friday, I got to shower in one of the vacant, newly remodeled units in our building. It wasn’t really as exotic as one might imagine–not the apartment dweller’s version of skinny dipping in the neighbor’s pool or anything. But it was an experience nonetheless. My particular place had a plumbing problem, and so the property manager asked that I not use our water.
“Linda, I haven’t bathed in 72 hours; I hate to admit that, but I really need to shower to make a lunch date.”
“Well, you can go into #504.”
“When is the plumber com–I’m sorry, did you just say . . . ? I didn’t hear what you just said.”
“You can use the shower in number five-oh-four.”
“I really don’t feel comfortable bathing in a vacant property.”
“Just double bolt the door and I’ll lend you a whistle; I’ll be right next door. I’ll be able to hear you.”
So I did it. I locked myself into # 504, I closed the blinds, closed the bedroom door, and the bathroom door and took a shower.
I had to be quick about it; there wasn’t time to linger. But in every one of those few minutes, I couldn’t help but feel that I was having a bit of an adventure.
I’ve pretty much given up on writing fiction in recent years; it’s too difficult. Today, though, thinking about the little morbid explorer in me, imagining if she were a real person, envisioning of all the ways she might exercise her compulsion . . . that girl might just lead me to a story.