Noises gradually began to break through the syrupy air that clung to the walls and the floors and to the bodies lying on them. The smell of damp, of the rain outside, as the cold morning air met the moistness inside, spread a sheen across the people left behind, motionless on the ground amongst the discarded possessions and clothes from the night before. The quiet mess shamelessly spilled from bedrooms and corners. It was hard to catch a breath.
A slice of light through a crack in a curtain exposes a flash of naked flesh. A man lies asleep on the stairs, arms entwined through the banister spindle, as if securing his place. The creak of an upstairs door cutting through the silence disturbs him, sparking a reflexive spasm in his foot. An empty vodka bottle feels the brunt, setting on its way a slow motion and musical descent, chiming down the metal staircase until reaching a stop on the concrete floor. A girl in a stolen shirt follows its path makes her escape.
The quiet roar of wheels on a runner as the door is pulled back, flooding the room with the morning’s autumnal light and illuminating the sticky haze that hangs in the air. The faint reverberating buzz from the speakers echoes through the room. Limbs expose themselves from beneath a pile of coats beneath the stairs, a prophetic aftermath of the breathless noises that echo through an open window above.
An alarm on phone sounds out optimistically for its absent owner from an open handbag discarded beside one of the sofas.
The patter of barefeet on cold concrete, the tacky sound of skin on the ground, as another navigates their way across the field of the evening’s debris.
The bathroom door hangs off its hinges, carefully propped against the frame in a kindly intentioned gesture to protect the modesty of whoever was brave enough to venture into the abused bathroom. Streaks of mud from rubber soled shoes skidded across the floor. The white porcelain tiles on the walls yellowed by years of tobacco and regurgitation and the mildew that leaks down the walls. A copy of Proust lies on a stool beside the toilet, spread open, a page thoughtfully folded over for the next visitor. A cracked mirror hangs above sink, blocked with suddy water – a reassuring but unmatched motif of preserving hygiene amidst the grime.
An obscenity sounds from outside followed by a frenzied banging on the door. The door gives way and a partially dressed figure enters, apologetically, staggering towards the toilet. Glancing casually at the Proust, as one tends to glance at Proust, he looks over to the bathtub where an ankle casually drapes itself over the rim. Best bed in the place, he thinks to himself. Shaking and zipping, he turns to leave, playfully tapping the protruding foot on his way to the sink where he gives his hands a cursory dip in the stagnant water. Reaching for the towel, his eyes flick upwards into the mirrored wall, catching a glimpse at his bathroom companion. A cream skinned girl in a green dress, barely skimming her pants, dark hair carelessly hangs over the left side of her face as she sleeps, breathlessly. Her dress billows slightly around her thighs in the remnants of iced water that cooled now empty cans of beer. Smiling to himself, he carefully, quietly, slides the door back to its earlier position, propped against the frame, preserving any dignity a girl can afford after falling asleep in a bathtub wearing chiffon.