I recently started writing a short story about a girl named Akiko who lives in a little apartment in Japan and is innocently curious about her neighbors. Based off the times their doors slam shut at night and their voices in the hall, she makes up stories about them and their lives. However, on one side of her, the apartment is empty. She knows this because she shares a balcony with him with a dividing wall down the middle and the lights are never on and nothing is ever on the balcony. But then one day, someone moves into the vacant apartment - a man named Keppei, who really just wants to be left alone.
Well, that's the premise. If you can't tell, it's partly based on real life. The apartment that shared my balcony was always dark and when I peered around the divider (by use of standing carefully on my tiptoes) there was never any sign that anyone ever touched that balcony.
I started the story one Sunday evening in the park on a night when there was no one to watch, pretending that someone like me but more curious than I lived in such a setup and then suddenly someone moved in. Things that happened to me in my tiny apartment would go into this story - such as the time I woke myself when I accidentally hit my head against the wall next to the empty apartment. I was grateful that no one was there to hear that bump but imagined what would happen if someone had. And then, a few weeks ago, some random apartment (the floor below me maybe?) had an alarm clock that would go off every morning and wake me up. The person themselves would not wake up until long after I was awake and I'd listen to it, in a drowsy state, wondering where the sound was coming from. I imagined if this happened to this curious girl who only discovered it was because she suddenly had a neighbor.
Imagine my surprise then the other day when I noticed lights on the balcony next door. In shock, I peered around the divider and found a man's polo t-shirt hanging up on a drying rack. So, now, suddenly, my last week in Japan, I have a neighbor. I like having a neighbor.