Shades of Voices

It was a typical city apartment. Small, boxy, and brown. The space that was designated for the kitchen was unremarkable and almost unmemorable. Everything was yellow and brown from the linoleum on the floor to the wallpaper that covered the walls. The oven was turned on, doing its best to perfectly tenderize the Idaho yellow potatoes and the rump roast. The square table was set with two plates, two napkins, two forks, and two knives. A large wooden bowl sat in the middle, filled with dull yellow-green lettuce, croutons that ranged from overcooked to undercooked. There were no glasses set, only rings of left behind condensation.


The life of the apartment seemed to be the living room. The couch, the chair, and the worn-in carpet were all faded shades of brown. The almost floor-to-ceiling ornate door opened up to a small balcony giving the living room a more spacious feel. The door’s glass panels were covered by two types of curtains. Both were different shades of brown – one was sheer and light, the other was a thick velvet cut that blocked out everything, including the sounds and smells of the city. Neither was covering the door. Instead both were tied up, the way those actresses swept their bangs across their foreheads. Every knob, latch, handle, or trinket was either brassy gold, or a golden brass. In the city no one could ever be certain.
Voices and smoke crept in from the balcony. A thin layer of cigarette smoke lingered in the living room snuffing out whatever moonlight dared to enter. Ella Fitzgerald’s smooth voice mingled with the smoke and muffled the other voices. Including the jazz singer, there seemed to be three different voices swirling together. Maybe it was the apartment imposing its theme, but one voice ranged in yellows – a contrast to the other’s varying shades of browns.

It wasn’t a particularly windy night. If anything the air was somewhat dense and stale, that didn’t stop the bathroom door from swinging closed. The bathroom was done in the same vein as the rest of the apartment seemed to be in: yellow and brown. Brown and yellow tiles to compliment the yellow shower curtain, the brown toilet, and the patterned yellow and brown towels. The toilet water stirred as if it had been recently flushed, and several drops of water dripped from sink. The patterned hand towel fell to the floor. A loud cloud of laughter rolled in from the window diluted with song and smoke. The bathroom door swung back away from the doorway. To the left, at the end of the hall, was the bedroom, and its door. No one knew what the bedroom looked like.

The cigarettes had been snubbed and the timer went off signaling that the roast was ready. The yellow and brown voices traipsed into the living room. The brown voice drifted to the bar and replenished the empty glasses with a golden honey colored liquid, while the yellow voice moved through the air into the kitchen. The only presence still circulating was the somewhat chilling, but quite melodic sounds of “Summertime.”

The kitchen and hallway lights died, the yellowed lighting of the living room dimmed. Flames from several candles roared to life, cutting through the stale air. Voices stirred outside. They moved from soft to electric, eventually returning to their almost neutral inclination. Once again the pattern of smoky air, muddled with voices and, this time, the stench of nighttime in the city continued for several cycles. In a careful dance the voices wafted through the grand doorway. Moving effortlessly from the living room, the voices transcended the hallway approaching the bedroom doorway.

The dark brown door, the stained and aged furniture, for all its darkness, the bedroom could have been black. The only light seemed to come from the intertwining of voices. Now, instead of two distinctive sounds, there was one golden, vibrant honey hum which filled the blackened room. The brightness grew and dimmed as the hum ebbed louder and softer. At the loudest point the most that could be made out in the room was that the furniture was maybe cherry wood that had been overstained. Abruptly the humming stilled. The darkness grew to be the only presence.

The sheets rustled. The canorous soul of the record player started up again. Though the windows in the bedroom were closed, if they were there at all, the door slowly pulled closed, pushing out whatever dust particles had been floating like nearly invisible snowfall. Almost everything was static.

The music continued on. The sheets, still pulling, were nestling around the voices that remained still.

In the living room the sweet sounds of Miss Fitzgerald grew louder overpowering the last of the cigarette smoke, the dried out rump roast and hardened potatoes, and the last few whispers of the yellow and brown voices. A breeze pushed through the apartment closing the exit to the balcony, and untying the two sets of curtains. The flames from the candles had been extinguished by the breeze. The living room had become almost as placid as the other rooms, save the last few notes of the sultry jazz.

Uncountable amounts of time passed. The apartment remained dark, no sounds or light penetrated the thick velvet curtains. No doors opened, no candles burned. The time was soundless.

Slowly the sounds of a song grew so they became barely audible in the stifling air. The lock on the front door began to turn. Wind slide through the curtains, the familiar scent of movement rose from the fibers of the apartment. A bold red sound burst through the front door, followed by a trickle of silvery wisps. Quickly they bounced through the apartment opening the fiery red velvet drapes and pushing back the sheer light grey curtains, bringing the loudness of daytime in the city into the living room. The jazz and the temperature were hot, as the red voice carried itself to the bar and fixed two Americanos. The silver voiced laughed as bells jingled lightly in the streets below.

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