Glitch on the Block

No morning in Felicity’s End begins with the feathered catcalls of tweeting birds. Nature’s enticing wake-up call is absent. Vibrant red poppies only bud to be weeded out from between the coordinated cracks of concrete pavements. There is some green, though exclusively as per the horticulturist’s plant design. Every 20ft, meticulously pruned Ulmus Pendulas stand in fenced pens. Other than that, cement has conquered the streets.

Urbanization gains popularity and suburbia shrinks from 2-bath, swing-in-the-yard detached houses with private garages and kitchen islands to the size of algorithmic apartment blocks. The plans had been approved in 2013. A secure area for young professionals and budding families right on the edge of Taunton, RI quickly sprouted and construction met the set deadline to the hour. Stacks of 20 by 20 cubicles hold exactly 2.5 inhabitants, domesticated quadrupeds not allowed. On Saturdays – at least for as long as the sun doesn’t disappear behind block two – Todd, Allison and Paul ignore each other while they enjoy their cigarettes on their neighboring cellblock balconies, right before they’re called back in for a semi-nutritional dinner and return to their Jeremy, Greg and Lauren, respectively.

After the completion of the first block, the angular apartment buildings tricked the first tenants to trust the authenticity of the architecture, but half-way through the construction of block 3 the droning, repetitive formula came alive. Prefabricated slabs of simulated brick conjured the idea of classic, big city condomansions, only to yield comprised living spaces for the incessantly average. Accountants and brand managers took refuge in the idea of having the scoop on brand-new stuff. No truer pleasure than peeling the plastic off of new appliances. They were the first to regulate their stool cycle on that toilet seat and the thought of that gave them unexpected wood. They rejoiced in parking their Audi A3 in the allotted parking space that was included in the lease. Particularly because it was adjacent to 10A’s Toyota Prius, a quiet reminder to the rest of the building that they were doing slightly better than their neighbors.

Paul and Lauren get in the elevator on the garage floor. A plaid shirt for him and short, high-lighted hair for her. They brought home Chinese, and the greasy fumes of MSG brush up against the already fainting novelty of the aluminum walls. Nicole has walked home and gets in on the next floor. She instantly succumbs to nausea. The eggroll smell has settled and merges with her disdain of the generic inhabitants of 11C, the floor below her. After living in Manhattan, she would not settle for anything other than the top floor, but you couldn’t really consider anything ‘top’ in this inferno. A year back she had been passed over for that promotion, so she immediately gave her two weeks’ notice and within a month she was back in her hometown. Much to her dismay. Now, her genius was stuck in the stickiness of the ordinary, and she was afraid they would infect her with their monotony. She was still nauseous, and Paul’s plaid pattern was so dull it drained the blood from her cheeks quicker than the faceless floors passed them by. The plaid reminded her of the automated design she had recognized in the floorplans of blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4. From above, the blocks are shaped like a row of four zeros, summing up the binary number of nothing. Bird’s eye view would show her that she was already part of Taunton’s code, and didn’t even surface as the slightest glitch on the block. With a dull nod P&L get off on the 11th. Nicole takes refuge in the fact that birds don’t come here anymore.

Saskia Soelaksana


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