She took another long draw on her cigarette and exhaled a stream of smoke. There she stood on the balcony, as she did every day around this time, watching the day’s traffic pass by her apartment building. She glanced back through the glass door to check on her kids as they watched TV and sat on the dingy brown carpet. She hated that carpet. She wanted some hardwood floors or at least something that wasn’t as hard to clean as that damned carpet. She resented its resilience, its ability to hold on to whatever substance it came into contact with.
In the corner of the living room was the mud that Joshua, her youngest, had tracked in after his first day in daycare. Over there, beneath that hand-me-down end table, was grape soda that Chris, her eldest, had spilled two years earlier, just after his first trip to the state fair. That spot just before you walked in the hallway? That was from when she was rushing out of the door for that secretary interview two months back and dropped her open compact (She didn’t get the job, though. Not enough experience.). The reddish-brown spot right next to her bed? That was her blood, drawn by one of her exes when he punched her full-out in the mouth. That carpet had seen a lot of the chapters in her life, and she hated it for that very reason.
She turned away from the door and took another drag on the cigarette. The wind was picking up outside, blowing the smoke quickly away from her instead of allowing it to linger and seep into her hair and clothes. She continued to watch the traffic in front of her building. Lots of SUVs and sports cars ambled by, probably busy people running their afternoon errands. Then she spotted the stretch limousine in the distance.
She imagined life for the limo’s passengers. They were more than likely some musicians in town for a concert that night. She pictured being a part of their entourage, sipping champagne and wearing some diamond and platinum bangle bracelets. The rapper’s new hit would be blaring out of the speakers. They were on their way to some kind of party because rich folks partied whenever they felt like it.
But what if it were some movie star? She imagined being decked out to the nines in some fancy dress, the designer of which had a name she couldn’t pronounce. Her hair would be done in an updo with wisps of it framing her petite face and her shoes would be to die for. They would be on their way to some awards show, where she would be receiving her lifetime achievement award. Or…
“Mom! Josh won’t let me watch the TV!” her son yelled, shattering her train of thought.
She sighed long and deep and took a drag of her cigarette. Her fantasies would have to wait once again. She threw the still burning butt to the ground and stomped out its ember.
“Josh, what’d I tell you about sharing!” she yelled as she walked through the door and closed it with slight hesitation.