I visit Sigrid’s apartment with a plate of sugar cookies, store bought because I haven’t yet learned how to bake. She opens the door in a cloud of gold hair and vanilla-scented perfume. In a day or two she’s taking down her fairy Christmas tree, and invited me to see it.
It’s decorated with fairy figurines she made herself.
Throughout October, Zeb asked Kilter Street Manor residents to write their worst fear and leave it in a basket in the mailroom. Everyone chose to do it anonymously, and most people typed up their notes. Now Zeb has tacked the notes up on the mailroom bulletin board, crowding out the takeout menus and the polaroid photos of bare tree branches Mrs. Selby has taken to sharing.
Here are the worst fears, the day after Halloween 2015
The elevator’s acting up again, so I take the stairs to my attic studio. On the third floor, I bump into Elana Elisa.
She puts a hand on my forearm. “Do you have a couple of minutes?” she says.
I wait too long for any lie to sound natural. “Sure,” I say.
“I was just going down to get the mail, and I thought I’d tell you some things. Seeing as you’re new here, it wouldn’t hurt to know a little more about your neighbors.”
If there’s a dominant feeling in Hugh’s life now, it’s futility. He had at one point a successful career in finance, felt that his success qualified him to speak about success more generally and become a life coach. He imagined himself a famous motivational speaker, with best-selling self-help books, seminars, crowds of admirers.
And he struggled for years, drained his savings, and took to drink.