Comparison

Nearly all the corridors in the Ian Haislin Court housing complex extend the entirety of the building, running along the car park where half of the corridor is taken up with windows with white frames looking out into the centre court, mirrored on the opposite side, or on the SE/NW sides where the corridors hold a series of identical doors and strip lighting is installed. A set of stairs service each floor at each corner of the building, a fifth set of stairs is located by the entrance building located on the SW side of the building proper, a small two story structure that serves as the reception on the ground floor and administration on the floor above. There are two lifts also, on the SE and NW side of the main building. The main building is three stories high, the top two containing the majority of rooms, the ground floor consisting of recreation areas and the canteen, access to the centre court and dorms for those up sixteen years of age, there are also several rooms reserved by relatives of the elderly so as to keep family closer to staff. The corridors smell like perspirant and visible perfume, the walls are tangerine and lilac, all the colours subdued.

Little sound escapes from the rooms, the heavy fire doors insulate, more for access, recovery, than exit. Faint cacophonic noise leaks from the bottom of the doors and into the hallways around midday after the residents have eaten and retreated into their rooms to watch television and sit with the radio on faintly playing to the bedrooms and kitchens of those hard of hearing who sit patiently and watch and wait on developing materials broken by brief periods of sleep that are broken themselves by casual implications in routine or headaches or held just out of reach by the ring of tinnitus. Newscasters ill, or upset by the inflections in their voice or debased by the text in papers that are delivered daily. These are senses that are honed.

Ida sat through the first set of knocks, staring at the white wall of the hallway, her shoulders pushed inward by the toilet bowl and the wall beside her. The second set came and she waited for the person at the door to announce themselves but no announcement was made. She began to pay attention to the sound of the monitor in the other room but drifted away from it, the third set of knocks almost pierced the door through the door.

Ida stood using the bowl of the toilet for support, her wrist taking the weight, the tremble throughout each consecutive muscle and her weight distributed. She wiped her mouth across her sleeve. The end of her fingers brushed by the bathroom wall for support. She stood fully and waited by the door, there was no sound from outside, no sound of anyone walking by, away. The knocks came again. Ida waited briefly then unlocked and opened the door just enough to see. A woman stood in a long blouse and dress facing dead centre, the women turned to look just shy of Ida’s face.
—I was wondering if I could come in and look at your room?
—I don’t think I’ve seen you.
—I live around the corner, on the other side… could I come in and have a look?
—Yes. I don’t mind.
Ida opened the door wide and stepped into the doorway of the kitchen, the woman walked straight through to the living room. Ida closed the door far enough to allow herself to pass and follow the woman into the room.
—I hope I’m not disturbing anything?
—No no no.
Facing the large window sat a long sofa, receiving a better angle of the monitor received at an obtuse angle by an armchair Ida called her own.
—Did you put that cabinet there? The woman faced a small glass cabinet between the monitor and the sofa.
—No no. I think it was like that when I came here, or someone might have moved it like that, when I did. The two women stared at the cabinet.
—mm. The woman surveyed the room, panning from the sofa to the monitor then the window, the fixings of the window by the roof. —You’ve got big window in here. She turned back to Ida and smiled. —Okay. The smile returned briefly then the woman walked toward the door so that Ida had to retreat into the doorway of the kitchen to let her pass. Ida closed the door close by the woman’s back as she left, the woman didn’t turn. Ida returned to her chair brushing the wall with the tips of her fingers.

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