Not a weight of the shoulders, no indeed. Seeing the familiar house brings back memories of the pseudo-family: the awkward younger brother, grumpy dad, smothering mom, and the perpetually-absent high-achieving sis. Little has changed.
The security guard waves you through with fluent insouciance, as if you weren’t worth his time. There was a time when you could never get through without signing in, but maybe they just don’t care as much as they used to.
The cab driver asks you cheerfully, moving house? He sees your scowl, and declines to ask any further details.
You don’t remember the exact address, but the location is singed into your spatial senses as you walk around. The lights in the lift appear brighter than they used to be, harsh like daylight. The birdcages still line the doorway.
Dot proceeds to lick your face. She is still alive, thank god. She is happy to see you, and she appears to recognize you. An old friend that she misses, the only one who lets her lick them all over. You want to stay more to play with her, but it would be awkward.
She still lives in the cubby attic. She probably has no more space in her life for this, but neither do you. But she wants it back, so you should oblige. You would rather not see her, it is quite painful, like being caught between hands pulling you back and legs kicking you away. You have no time for the drama. You do not want questions, answers, no, nothing should pull you back or take you away. You will not be Nadia who weeps at the Sabeen, who cries as she swims in the pool, who speaks in the third person in her falsetto and regrets that she does because F remembered her that way. You are not the same person.
Or are you.