It's a while since I lived in a densely populated part of a large city. Not that Summer Hill is that crowded, in fact to the casual eye it looks like a fairly quiet suburban neighbourhood. A few terraces, a few federation houses, the odd mansion and lots of apartment buildings. I live in one of these, with similar, older buildings on either side. I have the ground floor flat at the front, facing the street. There's six flats in the building, three up and three down. The ones on either side have four each I think, though I could be wrong about that. You get to know people by sight and there's a few I say hello to or stop and chat with. There are oddities - a couple of times when I've been up early I've seen a big white fluffy rabbit that seems to live around the back of the building opposite, nosing around on the front lawn by the dahlias. The other thing that happens is that you hear a lot of what goes on in other peoples' lives without necessarily knowing who it is you are hearing. Two examples. In the next door building on the right lives the Coughing Man. I have no idea who he is, have never seen anyone I could match to the extraordinary sounds that come from over there every morning, as he clears his passages in the aftermath of another day of what sounds like a lifetime of heavy smoking. And then, on the other side, there are The Lovers. Again I have no idea who these two are. They may be Chinese but I don't know why I think that. I believe the half grown handsome black cat who comes over sometimes is theirs; I hear a woman's voice in the evening calling Simba! Siiiimba! This is generally after they have done their washing up. I guess she's calling him in for the night. I hear their TV. Sometimes I hear him talking to her in a low voice, too low to make out the words. Whatever he is saying makes her laugh helplessly. Their bedroom is all red, not sure why, whether it's red curtains or a red light. I don't look that closely. My bedroom faces out towards their flat and sometimes, usually quite late, I wake up to the sound of their love-making. They're not really loud. I never hear him at all, I just hear her. It is the sound of a woman being exquisitely pleasured. It goes on for a long time. I like to sleep with the window open, for the fresh air, and I know that if I close it I won't hear her anymore. On the other hand, closing it makes quite a loud noise and I wouldn't like them to hear it and think they are annoying me. So I don't. Usually I tune out and drop back off to sleep before they finish. I'm not sure what to think about it. It feels illicit, being privy to such private moments between strangers. But it's sweet too. Much better than over-hearing a fight or an argument. I guess my main feeling is that I don't want to disturb them. I don't want them to know I can hear them because it might make them feel self-conscious or shy. I'm just in this weird position, an anonymous sometime witness to their transports of delight.

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