The Writing on the Wall

It was the noise of the earth moving that woke her up. Like great roars of an angry mountain hurling its molten insides. Or a baby earthquake working hard to show its prowess. Most likely, it sounded like a rockslide in full swing. All that ruckus, yet she never opened her eyes. Ah! So it’s actually happening.

He did say it could eventually give in—her engineer buddy who’d noticed the large cracks on most of her apartment walls. Said it was likely the building’s structural integrity had been compromised (something to do with “settling”, was it?) and advised her to move out as soon as possible. Get out first, then call the proprietor—yup, it’s that urgent. All said between tipsy chuckles and huge gulps of the pricey brandy she’d borrowed money to impress him with.

Get out to where though? she never asked out loud. All these upper class chums were unaware of the unfortunate trench she’d been in for a long time now. There were countless debts and numerous threats; repossessions and remonstrances. But since appearances meant everything to her, not many knew about the state of things. Besides, not one of them would help, she was sure of it. Rich folk were only your friends as long as you remained rich too. They were blissfully oblivious, and it was going to remain that way—she was not about to lose face with her posh friends.

There was time enough to get away. Precious seconds in which she could have made for the door and the safety beyond, perhaps even grabbing her wallet (not that it contained anything of value) or phone (though no friend existed that she could call) just there beside the bed. But she made no such move, only kept her eyes firmly shut. It would save on funeral costs at least. When you’re strapped for cash and dead, a caved-in flat makes as good a burial place as any. She smiled at that.

In fact, the more she pondered her little funeral joke, the funnier it seemed. Then, like a little girl privy to a naughty secret about boys, she covered her mouth and began to giggle uncontrollably. The bizarre sound was as infantile as it was misplaced. Punctuating the childish noise came the pitiful cry of a miserable woman, just before the first concrete slab dropped and did her jaw in, suddenly silencing both mad mirth and sorry sobs. The upstairs apartment visited downstairs for the first time in a barrage of blocks that smashed what little remained of the skull, and pummeled the rest of her body with blunt, sickening blows until nothing remained but pulp.

Ama woke with a jolt and a head-splitting ache. Sssssssssss, she hissed in pain as she clutched her head in agony, nightmare already forgotten. What the bloody hell?! Shuffling unsteadily to the kitchen, she stood by the open fridge and chugged cold water in loud gulps while absently scanning the ceiling above. Beautiful new hairline fissures had appeared there too. It was obvious that her walls were smeared with criminally cheap coats of colour, if they were cracking up already. Barely a year in this flat and this nonsense! She launched an excessively ripe expletive into the air, willing it to whoever was responsible.

DIY painting was in order.

Photo credit: Ana Pinta via Flickr

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