I live in a ghost tower. Ten floors up, Number 5, that’s me. When I first moved in I tiptoed the corridors, put my ear to doors listening for signs of life. Television, a conversation, another human being – but there was zilch.

I moved in expecting to make new acquaintances. Marketing for these apartment developments always feature attractive people. He’s got a beard and chunky glasses; she’s model-like, clutching bags from her latest shopping expedition. Lifestyle is all.

Have a chardonnay! Don’t mind if I do! Drop by anytime!

That vertical village ambience appealed. But my first nights in Number 5 I didn’t hear, or see, a solitary soul. Instead of living somewhere social, only the emptiness of the ghost tower kept me company. It listened and stared as I sat, eating alone.

When I went to find Number 5’s car space, more vacant gaps, more evidence I’d stepped into a land of phantoms. I shared my concerns with workmates. They shrugged it off.

Investors – buy, but don’t want the hassle of renting out.

So, my ghost tower was a bricks and mortar bank, a safe spot for money.

I decided to embrace what was on offer. It was exciting having a whole floor, what felt like a whole building, just for me. My ghost tower and Number 5 added up to living in a weird fairytale, or a movie about awakening from a coma and finding everyone else wiped out by a lethal virus.

There were other advantages to Number 5 too. I could nip out to the bin chute in knickers and bra and not fear being caught. Play my most embarrassing old tracks full blast, without disturbing anyone. Of course, the size of Number 5 made swinging a cat out of the question. But I didn’t mind. Keeping it tidy was easy. And that snippet of CBD glimpsed from my hanky of a balcony made the place a true inner-city pied-à-terre.

So it was a shock, having grown accustomed to the deathly quiet, when one Sunday morning the fire alarm went off. Evacuation followed. I stared as about a hundred people spilled into the street, all of us in pyjamas. I asked the fireman what had happened.

Somebody burnt toast. Opening their front door, it set of the main alarm.

That day I almost met my neighbours. More, I made a friend, although not quite like the brochures promised. No bearded guy with glasses, no model-like shopper. Dressed in my Superwoman T-shirt, I struck up a conversation with this girl in Minnie Mouse slippers. Turned out she lived one floor down.
I’ve never seen anybody either.

We parted, promising to meet for coffee. After all, we’d already seen each other in pyjamas. I even went so far as to slip my mobile number under her door. Now we get together about once a fortnight. Not exactly village, but it’s a start.

Besides, I’ve come to love Number 5, and my ghost tower.

CategoryFlash Fiction

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