Two or three, at most (on a scale of ten)

I’m not sure why I am waking up just now. If it was the dog downstairs, who barks at nothing (or ghosts) in the middle of the night, or the girl upstairs – the one with hair so black I sometimes think it’s blue (maybe it is) – that gets home this late almost every day (one day I’m going to ask her – doesn’t she have a job?) the heels tapping the floor, my ceiling.

I’m not sure what time it is: the battery of my digital watch died (at least two or three months ago, at best). But the Sun hasn’t risen yet, so I must have a few hours until cold shower, hot coffee, crowded subway.

I get up to open the curtains, that by the force of habit I closed before going to bed. Since the battery died, at least two or three months ago, I have been waking up with the sunlight (I have always been a light sleeper). I wake up even earlier than I would with the alarm on the digital clock – and still, every day, I sleep with the light, almost imperceptible, adrenaline of the risk – the risk of waking up just before lunch.

Without caring about how pathetic that may be (is), I pretend I am one of those people we hear so many stories about – so many sometimes we forget they really exist. The ones who climb mountains, travel to Africa, quit their jobs, parachute jump, the poets who write about waking up in the morning, taking a cold shower, drinking hot coffee, and, on the way to the crowded subway, getting hit by a blue car – imminent death. And here I am, almost high on the adrenaline of the risk of waking up just before lunch.

The streetlight hurts my eyes (even though it is almost completely dark). A lamppost, one car or another here and there, two windows, three at most, with the lights on. When the curtains are fully open, my dangerous (almost) alarm turned on (almost), my eyes get used to the light (or lack there of). The street outside is ugly. (Always has been). The building next to mine too grey, too close; so close I can barely see the sky. (And if I could, only two starts, three at most, would shine as they’re supposed to.)

In one of the many windows with the light off (now I see there are only two with it on anyway), there is a girl with honey hair. Or maybe it’s red, or perhaps it’s only the fire on the tip of her cigarette that gives me that impression. She drags looking at the sky and blows the smoke with her eyes closed, head stretched out the window just like dogs or drunk blonde girls do in those movies that almost always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining – I have always been a fan of happy endings).

I look for a while – not too long. I would rather remain a romantic without becoming a potential stalker. Even though I’m not, I would like to think if someone was looking (maybe someone is) they wouldn’t think I’m that weird guy who stares at pretty girls (maybe she isn’t, but I don’t think it matters) smoke cigarettes by the window in the middle of the night.

Before going back to bed, I look for stars one last time (there is no harm in trying). The grey building is blocking my view, and I’m not sure there even is anything to see, but I keep looking (there really is no harm in trying), and I wonder what she, with the honey (maybe red) hair is doing awake at this hour (two or three in the morning, it must be). Maybe she was woken by a dog who sees ghosts or a neighbor with very high heels and stretched her neck out the window to look for stars (, sure, but mostly so that her boyfriend wouldn’t notice the smell of cigarettes – she does have asthma after all, and he really cares for her health.)

Maybe. Or maybe she owns the medium dog and doesn’t want to make of him a passive smoker (he’s her best friend). Maybe she is the neighbor who just got home from a loud noisy party, the kind that happens every weekend and we go to anyway (and worse: love doing so); (maybe that is a normal tendency between girls with unidentifiable hair colors); and as much as she promises everyone she’s not a smoker, when she’s drunk it’s a free pass (and she drinks every weekend).

I pretend she has blue eyes (I have always been a fan of blue eyes – yes, I know everyone is a fan of blue eyes). I pretend I have the courage of smiling at her. I pretend the only thing stopping me is not wanting to seem like a stalker. I pretend I am that guy from the movies that always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining); the one who runs through the airport (as if he can’t just send a text she’ll see just as she lands), the one who kisses in the rain, who travels the world, who quits his job, who buys a hundred red roses, who risks (for real). I pretend she smiles back.

And just as I lay in bed again, eyes already closed, I realize that, by the force of habit, I closed the curtains again. I need to get up, of course, to turn on my (almost) alarm. My version of parachute jumping, the danger I enjoy being in. And I get up again, and I open again, and I lay in bed again – eyes already closed, falling asleep, almost high on the daily dose of adrenaline. The imminent death, the second you jump, the unbelievable danger – of waking up just before lunch. (On the last two or three months, it hasn’t happened once.)

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