The Neighbors

appeared in

SoMA Literary Review

I never see the faces of my neighbors across the way. 
But I hear their shouts on Saturdays after midnight when the tequila bottle must be near the bottom. 

The apartment houses stand in rows like canyons. 
Their voices echo off the pavement,
trapped beneath the clouds.

The fight always starts and ends the same. 
Its progression soft, murmured at first.
I blink into the dark, trying to make sentences. 


Ronnie, you stupid son of a bitch.
Linda, please, he moans, rubber-tongued. Please shut up.
Loser, she shouts followed by a howling string of syllables. 
He answers her in whimpers.
You're disgusting, she says. Fucking pathetic.
Please, Linda? For just five minutes? Please, stop. He starts to cry.


I listen, waiting.
Her screams grow higher, shrill and breathy.
By the one o'clock hour, I hear his fists clap against the fleshy part of her face. 


I peer through the curtain lace. 
The street lamp casts a glow on the pavement. 
Outside the night is still,
only the quiet throb of a sheer rain.

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© 2020  Tracy Marie Oliver  

Santa Cruz, California