I skid the backdoor open, whincing as it bounces three times against the linoleum kitchen tiling, worried the noise might wake my roommate.
A torrent of thick frosty air beats it way into the room, anxious to erradicate the warmth within our apartment. I slip into the dark, the cloudy moonlight sparking the stiff blood within my veins.
I turn and slide the smooth silver key into the lock, twisting to the left.
I am silent. Still. Moving motionless under the mounted moon. Waterbottle gripped in one gloved hand. Running shoes laced and eager.
There is one more still than I.
A tiny sun flares up in my periphreal vision, lazy rifts of smoke snake vertical. The faintest creaking from the wooden planks of the porch alerts my ears to his presence. He expels a gruff cough, for my benefit only, to solidify his company in this frigid world we are sharing.
I glance, gently.
He blends against his side of the back porch, his thick red flannel jacket flickering in the pull of his cigarette.
His occupied lips stretch back into a faint smile as he bobs his grey-whiskered head slowly at me, the wrinkles on his well-used face held by his command of inertia.
I return his nod and smile.
He is as functioning a member of my morning routine as I am his.
When I slip back up the creaking wooden stairs–as the sun kisses the darkness and banishes the thick heaving night air–his corner of the back porch is empty.
An hour passes.
I skid the backdoor open, alloting for rays of rose-gold sun to ease into the kitchen. I slip into the gold, the shy rays raising the hair on my forearms.
I am eager. Anticipatory for a golden day, my backpack a shield, curling around the lips of my red jacket.
A match sizzles. Diamonds swirl around his whiskers. The red flannel shifts; the planks answer with a groan.
He nods and smiles, cigarette dancing.
Our neighborhood exists on the slats of this creaky back porch; we are a company of early risers, of moon gazers, of wind baiters. We rub our hands together against the biting cold and we clear our throats. We say nothing and yet everything is said.
We nod. We smile.
Peace and Blessings,