The light of the television kept her awake. She wasn’t actually watching the screen, just the shifts in color on the opposite wall. Unable to sleep she closed her eyes and imagined herself walking out of the house she grew up in. The stoop in front of the door was a watered-down kind of yellow, a faint line still visible where the babysit used to park her bike. On the left the house of the retired concert pianist, a grumpy ornithologist with sandals and woolen socks, whose piano playing filled the house hours a day (heard best on the toilet on the first floor). Then the flower shop with its big windows, one of which dedicated solely to the art of imitation flowers. These always seemed ridiculously exuberant, their real siblings much more modest. On the opposite corner the tobacco shop run by two brothers. One timidly smoking his cigars behind the counter, the other the proud owner of a prize winning Doberman. In between the two streets was strip of grass lined with trees, cross it and follow the sidewalk past the fancy deli, the butcher, the travel agency with faded cruise ship posters on display, a Chinese restaurant and the video store.
In her mind she walked by all these familiar places, she could even remember a few faces to enliven the neighborhood of this memory. If you continue walking, you pass a bakery; through the blinds you can see the strong arms of the baker working the dough. Over the bridge where she once tried to lick the railing while the temperature was below zero. Her tongue did stick and the panic was instant. Turn left, past the little front yards, each with its own gate. One always caught her eye, its handle the shape of a Siamese cat, carved elegantly out of the same piece of wood as the gate. She gently touched its head, surely it would bring some luck later the day.