June 24, 2007


He recognized her voice. It was Tracy Burns, the niece of Kate Pringle, an acerbic elderly lady on the third floor whom Tracy was visiting from out of town. They had met at a condo function, a pot luck. She had been tipsy, pleasantly expansive and a little snarky. They crossed paths at the elevator several days later and exchanged pleasantries. They seemed to be hitting it off with a subtly agreeable indolence, and parted smiling.

Now as the sun was setting, he could hear a voice, a call, floating up to the periphery of his awareness from somewhere outside. He assumed at first that it was a neighbor, or a television. As he approached the back bedroom it dawned on him slowly, impossibly, that it was Tracy's voice: "I like you... why don't you like me?"

She was out there for hours. The plaint, rising up into the deepening night, came at enigmatic intervals. "I like you... why don't you like me?" At first he was mildly alarmed, but titillated... then oddly comforted, lulled by its hopeless, intimate spell. "I like you... why don't you like me?" He never looked down to see her. At length, he climbed into bed and drifted off, the sad, audacious lament rocking him to sleep...

She returned to Pennsylvania sometime the next day; he never saw her again.