The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.
Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.
They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.
When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.
Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.
In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.
Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.
Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.
Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.
Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.
She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.
Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.
The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.
When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.
Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.
La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.