The man on the other side of my bedroom wall is sick. Sometimes I think he might be dying. His low, rough coughing keeps me awake at night. Every once in a while, he calls for his caretaker. I can hear their voices.
He lives there, but it's her place. She moved him in several months after she started living there. She's like me. She does all her moving in one afternoon with the help of every family member she can round up. If I hadn't been home for it, I would have never known when it happened.
Mostly, they are quiet.
The people before had an affinity for loud music and marijuana. I knew too much about them: when they fought, when they made love, when the children were taken away. I even knew when they were evicted.
These new people are private. They never borrow eggs. They turn their television down. They never have parties. It's like they're not there.
Except for the coughing.
I feel bad for them. They have me for a neighbor. Oh, sure, I'm the only one who lives here, but I have family. When my kiddos visit, it's as if they live here. They turn up the TV. They help themselves to a hot shower. They do their laundry. They bring their sweet, rowdy spawn with them. We yell from room to room. We play a lot of "Boo!" We laugh and squeal and run and drink and move furniture and hang out on the patio.
To her credit, she's never banged on the wall or hollered for us to keep it down.
It occurs to me she might welcome the noise. Maybe we are music to her ears. Maybe she's tired of the sound of so much coughing.