Taking the stairs two at a time, for less time than I had wished, I felt five years old again. For the briefest of moments, the optimism of reaching the top reminded me of when a simple pleasure such as this was the only pleasure worth chasing. The illusion, however, was soon shattered. Clutching my chest, the stitch ate away at my side causing a sudden wave of nausea. I was no longer as young as I had once been, and although the heart and mind were more than willing, my body had given up on my exuberant exploits long ago. I couldn’t blame it. I’d treated it more akin to enemy territory than a temple. Doubled over and gasping for air, I looked at the door to our apartment and wondered if Meeko was spying on me through the peephole. The thought occurred to pretend I was doing up my laces. I didn’t want her seeing me like this—so out of shape and humdrum—but I gave up the ghost and remained hunched over trying to catch my breath. From the door opposite ours came a sudden blast of raised voices belonging to a young couple who had moved in not long after myself and Meeko had arrived. They were perhaps a year or two younger than we were, and if you could believe it, more prone to arguments. This was early for them, though, as they usually tended to clash later in the day. Shuffling to their door, I stepped out of sight of their peephole and listened intently for what they were fighting over. She was shouting about his laziness, and he in-turn was lashing out at her for pestering him, especially as though he was the only one of them to have a job. It wasn’t a very compelling argument, but it was comforting knowing other couples were suffering much the same as we were. Meeko didn’t like the girl that lived in this apartment, namely because she had once caught me helping her up the stairwell with several bags of shopping. There was nothing untoward in my actions, but that hadn’t been good enough for Meeko. Such acts of kindness aimed at the opposite sex were tantamount to adultery, and as such, I was careful only to be kind to other women when Meeko wasn’t around. But that just left me feeling guilty, and even the simple act of opening a door for an appreciative girl felt as if I were engaging in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.