Three people. Three decades. One drafty apartment.
That’s the premise behind my short story Apartment 101, which was a winner in the Washington City Paper’s Fiction Issue 2020. The issue also includes two other great stories by local authors about life in Washington, DC.
The inspiration behind Apartment 101 comes from experience. During the 1990s, I lived in an apartment building at 15th and Swann. Like in the story, there was a drug dealer on the corner, a weird hoarder in the building and I got up on the roof. And it was drafty as hell.
Creative people need unstructured time. I got the idea for the story walking home from work on a rainy December evening. My brain was wandering, thinking about how many years I’ve spent walking around DC. I got to thinking about my old apartment and how much I witnessed there. Could that be a story? How could I organize it?
Once home, I immediately sat in front of my computer and started to write. I’ve written so many traditional stories that I wanted to write something with a different structure. Apartment 101 is three stories in one, with little vignettes from 1989, 1999 and 2009.
Originally, I intended to include 2019 but I ran out of space – the contest limit was 1500 words. Guidelines are good for creativity, however. The sparse word limit forced me to cut my sentences down to what was absolutely necessary.
I wrote most of it in one sitting over a couple of hours but returned to it dozens of times over the next week, making little tweaks and changes.