>I turn the key warily and push the door open. It doesn’t creak. The television isn’t blaring film music. The kitchen doesn’t resound with the clang of vessels and the gush of water in the sink. No conversations are to be unwillingly overheard. I walk up the steps slowly, my bag slipping off my shoulder of its own volition. I peep up the banister at the door to my room. It is closed and there is no sliver of light underneath. I heave a sigh of relief and say a thank-you prayer to the goddess of my room.

I come ‘home’ to an empty house. Or do I?

She is there. My roommate with her hundred moods per minute. Locked in with me, gregarious one moment, crotchety the next. She wages a battle with her unwholesome thoughts- they refuse to be suppressed. She isn’t a separate entity; she is just that part of me that stubbornly tries to sap and enervate me. My saner self wins- not always, but tonight, victory is mine, not the impostor’s.

The bed, covered with an uncharacteristic pale pink sheet, is strewn with books. Charlotte Bronte, Friedrich Nietzsche, JD Salinger- who will speak to my soul today? My fingers hover over Villette– and then I gingerly pick up Franny and Zooey.

“I’m not afraid to compete,” says Franny. What do I say? I cannot think. I like Franny’s confidence, though- even if she persists in moving her lips in prayer whose effectiveness is yet to be proved.

I am still alone, and an immense wave of peace- misplaced?- washes over me.

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