Anxiety in a High-Risehttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/7ABE8BCB-964B-44F2-B903-06AB497D2C8A-e1549341238591.jpeg?fit=1920%2C1080&ssl=119201080Jeanna PadenJeanna Padenhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/jeannapaden1-e1538975675538.jpg?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
the stairwell smells like a barbeque joint tonight and also a joint; lightbulb on the last flight of stairs is out and if the broken doorknob at the bottom of the darkness is any indication, the light will stay busted for months on end. so I shove my shoulder into the heavy six coats of paint covering the door and rush into the hallway across from the mini-gym mostly from the momentum but also from a general anxiety about meeting any fellow tenants in the hallway, round the corner and weave between the two blueberry-cake-donut colored couches in the lobby to stand in front of the vending machine, reach indecision, think about how chocolate hurts my teeth and too much salt gives me a headache, listen to a coke can hit the bottom of the machine as loud as the garbage trucks lifting dumpsters on Tuesday mornings, buy the chips anyway, my decision is made and the stairwell door is too hard to open from this side without a doorknob so I click the elevator button and even though the digital monitor tells me one elevator is available, I still wait ten minutes for the occupied elevator to empty on some unseeable floor, then show up in front of me, not by choice, and I wish deeply and profoundly that maintenance would fix the doorknob. I like to leave my apartment without the risk of strangers occupying the elevator with me, also people I know occupying the elevator with me, also without having to wait this long for the relief that should have been here already.
Jeanna Paden is a writer and educator from Tennessee. As a first-generation college student, she earned her BA in English from the University of Memphis in 2016. Her work has been published in Foothill: A Journal of Poetry, The Bookends Review, and Ink & Nebula. Her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets anthologies. She is a fierce supporter of English majors and Hufflepuff House.