How the Grinch Stole My Heart
I close my eyes, trying to shut out the sound of a ball hitting the wall just outside my apartment. It’s the second time in two days. The second goddamn time.
I feel a seedling of a headache starting in my left temple. I open my eyes and stare at the computer screen in front of me, filled with code. If I get a migraine, there’s no way I’ll be able to get any work done. I’ll be lucky if I can get out of bed.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
I grit my teeth. I know it’s a lot to expect absolute silence at three o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday, but there’s something about that sound that gets me. The fact that it’s not quite rhythmic. The way sometimes there’s a gap in the thumps and I think it’s finally stopped, but nope, there it is again.
I know who’s doing it. It’s that kid. That goddamn kid. I don’t know his name, but his family moved here a couple of months ago, and ever since winter hit for real, he’s been playing out in the hall with his rubber ball. He throws it against the wall as hard as he can, then he catches it. You’d think he’d get bored of it eventually, but he never does. He never. Fucking. Does.
I don’t want to be the asshole who yells at a little kid for tossing a ball around in the hallway. I don’t want to be that guy. Nobody likes that guy. Remember Dennis the Menace and his grouchy old neighbor, Mr. Wilson? Dennis the Menace was always messing up Mr. Wilson’s lawn or knocking down half his house or pulling down his pants to reveal polka dot boxers, but somehow Dennis was still the hero. Did anyone root for Mr. Wilson? No, nobody did.
I don’t want to be Mr. Wilson. I don’t. I’m just really sick of the sound of that goddamn ball. I’m not going to be able to pay my rent if the kid keeps it up.
To hell with it. I’m going to say something. Maybe the kid can go throw a ball on the floor above or below. Or anywhere else besides right outside my fucking door.
I take a breath, steeling myself for the effort it will take to stand up. I reach with my left hand for the forearm crutch I always keep leaning against my desk when I work. I lace my left arm through the metal loops, then slowly haul myself to my feet like I have hundreds of times before. I have a false start, where it seems like I’ll fall right back into my chair, but I don’t.
I’ve gotten good at this over the last several years. I barely remember a time when standing up from a chair didn’t involve any effort at all. It feels like that was a whole other life.
I guess it sort of was.