I used to sneak into my neighbor’s flat, did I tell you that? It wasn’t to take anything or watch them sleep or whatever, it wasn’t creepy, though I guess how neutral could it be. Yeah I mean it started pretty normal actually; I needed milk and I knew he wouldn’t mind, Andrew I mean, the guy who lives next door. Or maybe he’d mind if he knew some twenty-seven-year-old woman was crawling through his window but I knew he wouldn’t mind about the milk because he always looks at me in that sad way that looked like he would give me anything I wanted and I don’t mean that in a pity way I mean it just as it is, that was his face. He liked me enough. Anyway his window was impossible to completely close and lock, or at least mine is and we have the same set up and I crawled out onto the fire escape we share and sure enough his was too. And he leaves for work at the crack of dawn and he doesn’t come back until dinner time and I haven’t worked from an office in I don’t know how long, since corona I guess, jesus it’s been that long. I needed milk for my cereal and it was lunch time he definitely wasn’t coming back and so I opened his back window and pet his cat for awhile and I mean I was in there already so I thought I would look around and his flat is a lot bigger than mine. It’s the same one-bedroom but something about the layout or maybe he just has less stuff, I don’t know, but it must’ve been bigger but his kitchen is in the same spot mine is. That first day I just grabbed the milk and brought it back over after and that was that.
The next time I did it was night, which was riskier, but I knew for certain he wasn’t home because he left that day with luggage. That time I stayed longer. I needed ice and I brought a bowl so I didn’t need to carry everything in my shirt and when I was there I started looking around more. I’d only ever seen him wear the same few work shirts he always wears, they are mostly light blue and his closet had 9 or 10 of them, some older with stains and all of them too starchy. I don’t think his mom taught him how to iron properly or wash properly, maybe he didn’t have a mom or maybe his mom wanted him to do things on his own. But in the closet with the shirts was also a ton of normal clothes, clothes someone would wear out or to meet the girlfriend’s parents or just around the city running errands. I found this one off-white tee shirt with a band name on it that I didn’t know but it fit me perfectly and I didn’t take it but I thought about it. I smelled everything too, everyone has a smell, his is whatever laundry detergent he was using which smelled exactly like my exes but not in a way that brought any bad memories back, just the idea of him.
It was a few weeks before I went back again, I didn’t need anything or maybe I got busy or something but this time was to shower. I know how that sounds, I can see your face right now but my shower was completely busted and the landlord refuses to come up and figure it the fuck out so I waited until I was pretty sure he was gone, this was 8ish on a Saturday night so I couldn’t be sure, but I went to the window and knocked for awhile just to make sure and his cat came up again and I waited and finally no one came so I opened the window and brought my towel and I took a quick shower and I used his soap because all soap is the same, that’s what my dad used to say, it all gets you clean who cares, and I got out and was in my towel and I was wandering his apartment drying off, careful not to drip everywhere and I heard someone coming up the stairs and I panicked and found the window and climbed out and closed it just as I heard his door unlocking and I was in my apartment and thought I was home free but realized my clothes, my old dirty ones, were in his place. They were in his bathroom, probably in between the bathroom wall and the toilet, I thought I remembered maybe sliding them off the toilet when I needed to pee, I wasn’t completely sure but if they were there it was at least a place he may not immediately see? I don’t know. I remember standing still in my apartment, sweating, listening to any sounds I could hear from the adjoining wall but not hearing anything other than the blood in my ears. I didn’t know what to do at all so I got a little high which I don’t think is wrong and I waited for him to knock on my door or for the landlord or the cops to call or I don’t know who. Who do you call if you find someone’s clothes in your bathroom? Was I supposed to fess up and go tot the window or his door or something? I could’ve snuck back in but I pictured him seeing me at the window and it made my head hurt behind my eyes and I felt my stomach tense up and I just decided to leave all together so I went to a bar down the street and found a friend and didn’t go back to the apartment until the next morning and I went up my stairs and unlocked my apartment door and when I opened it and stepped through I stepped right on a little pile of nicely folded clothes inside my apartment, on the floor there. I stepped all the way in quickly and locked the door behind me and picked up my clothes and lifted the pile to my face and they smelled exactly like my ex.