As the door creaked open, my arms felt heavy as if they were not a part of my body. They hung limp on either side of my torso, dragging me down to the floor. The apartment was damp, dark and deeply depressing. Outside, a constant stream of cabs and cars flooded through the streets, pounding their horns in resentment frequently. The stream of commotion echoed through the thin walls of the apartment complex, making the walls rattle and creak. In an attempt to brighten the room, I fumbled for a light switch to no avail. The windows provided little light as the city outside was masked in a thick layer of smog. The light drizzle of rain that was once outside had turned into a heavy downpour, deepening my mood further.
I threw my bag into one of the mold infested corners, perhaps where a bed should be. I glided towards the kitchen in an attempt to keep the floorboards intact. The kitchen contained only a sink, a fridge and about three cupboards. It was about the size of my closet in my parents house, which could barely be considered a walk-in. Unable to bear being confined to these walls any longer, I made a bee-line out of the apartment towards the back doorway which backed on an alley.
There was no doubt in my mind that crime was being committed just around the corner, maybe even in this building. As I stepped out the back door of the complex, my stomach dropped. I could feel my heart pounding through my chest, sending me into a deep panic. The alley I had wandered into was littered with hoards of people, huddled close together in an effort to gain warmth. Harsh looks were shot my way as I raised the zip on my winter jacket. I found my footing and began to wander towards the street where I was more visible. Just as swiftly as I was walking, a hand grasped around my ankles, pulling me back with such force I could barely stay upright.
“How ‘bout you give me that jacket girly?” a croaky voice declared from the kerb.
“Uh.. um.. sorry no!” I stuttered, panicked, whilst freeing my ankle from the harsh hold.
I swung around to see an elderly woman, gabbling madly at me. The ground around her was littered with what I could only imagine was a cocktail of mind-altering drugs. Her eyes were sunken making her whole face seem dark and lacking hope. She rose her hand up towards me slowly, her fingers shriveled and elongated in an inhuman manner. I twisted back around in an effort to make a hasty escape.
“No respect!” she howled. “No respect for us folk that have been betrayed by the system.”
I wanted desperately to protest but she had a point. My only purpose in my moving to this city was for my own personal gain. The numerous buildings that towered over me had elegantly wrapped a grim life-style in a beautifully deceiving bow that promised fortune and a lifetime of happiness. So far, I had found only disappointment in their many stories. I longed to be on the highest floor, of the tallest building where the smog would cover the harsh reality of a city full of missed opportunities and crushed dreams. From the ground I understood no one could see me. I was irrelevant, living in a city run by the best of the best. I was not the best. I was merely another dreamer who would never be able to break through the glass ceiling that hung above me.