I think my cat is sick of me. She doesn’t even sit in the same room as me. It’s the first time I’ve been out of my apartment in almost four days. I have to return a form to my landlord. Finally, an excuse. The mailbox is on the corner. I get the same form every year: do you have kids under six years old, under eleven years old, and do you have peeling lead paint and window guards? I have bars on the windows; they were there when I moved in. Maybe some peeling paint, but I’m not interested in eating any of it. And I don’t think my cat is either. Whenever I look out my window at night, I see those bars. Sometimes I grab them. Prison bars. Gotta make a break. Gotta find life on the outside. January is a dark time of year for me. It’s my least favorite month. Cold, silent, the mounds of charcoal snow on the street corners and in front of the subway entrances are the worst. There’s the harshness of metal on metal as I release the mailbox handle. The squeal of the braking F train arriving draws me down the stairs. Navigating the subway steps places my life in the hands of the gods of a frictionless universe. A homeless guy on the downtown F train has two Food Emporium bags on his feet, held on by two rubber bands over his shoes. Crazy, but his feet are probably drier than mine. Mine are wet and freezing. I climb up the stairs at the Second Avenue stop. Howling wind. Hoping to find life, I see none in the dive bars lining the streets—at least not tonight. Muttering to myself as Tom Waits plays through my headphones. I take them off. Sometimes I just want to hear the sounds of the city streets. Once again, I sit in my apartment. Only the sound of a cabbie speeding up Sixth Avenue, running lights, deliverymen clanking chains on their bicycles, securing them to posts in the snow. The shades are open. The lamp is on. The reflecting light in the window makes the outside world invisible. I see only the bars through my reflection. And my cat still sits in the other room.