This is the opening paragraph of my novel, tentatively named ‘Emilia’s.’ I have worked with it several times, and this is close to final.
Through the wall I could hear the young dog whimpering. With nominal effort, he summoned his owner; I could hear her squealing steps. My neighbor murmured – coddling the thing, misunderstanding his needy yelps for sorrow. She would apologize in the morning; she always did. I would pass her in the lobby, a room that had once been grand but was now poorly decorated and musty. The cast-off scent of a hundred tenants drudged into the wide stairs leading up from the ground floor was visible. The woman had three dogs in an apartment that mirrored mine. She would coo to me how she loved her babies. She smelled of sweat that had accumulated under folds of skin, escaping the rush of scalding water when she showered. I recognized her lonely heart, but never thought to pity her. I would excuse the noise once more, certain there were worse neighbors to be had.