One

A short story for your entertainment…

Along a hopelessly suburban neighborhood road stood rows of cookie cutter houses. Their proximity was close to the sea, evident in their somewhat odd shaped colors dotting the horizon. Some were mango orange, others were hibiscus pink. Their ridiculousness only illuminated by the evening shadows as dusk approached leisurely swallowing the coast as the sun gently dipped itself into the sea, in need of refreshment after a strenuous day of holding itself in the sky. Shadows yawned and stretched seemingly determined to finally embrace after a day of longing. After all, shadows are the very being of longing.

It was not a particularly noticeable house. Like the others it had the same appeal of a gingerbread house, intricate woodwork details that marked a time that preferred more sentimental notions. The front door never was locked; there was never a reason to lock doors in these areas. The screens covering the windows were littered with tears and bugs from long ago. Looking up to the second story of the house, not a single neighbor could see into the French door windows that had to empty into a bedroom of some sorts. People like French doors in their bedrooms. But, from a distance, on a balcony or maybe a rooftop, and only if you knew what you were looking for, you could see. You could see plenty. It is all just a matter of looking.

We, as humans, are curious. Curiosity as it turns out has killed more humans than cats. Cats are too superior to curiosity. Looking at car wrecks on the high ways, into restricted areas, into other people’s houses, it is when we look into other people’s lives, into other people’s souls is when we find ourselves overstepping our human nature invitation and into something dark.

The window to her room was cracked ever so slightly as it always was inviting in the twilight sky. Inviting in his eyes as well. The flutter of the diaphanous curtains swirled like a bride’s gown after a happily ever after. There in worn down green lawn chair perched inconspicuously on his balcony, half hidden by the shrubbery that he has always meant to trim but found a good excuse not to. His windows mirrored hers, playing peekaboo with the outside world for reasons that were simultaneously alike and different at the exact time. The spring air usually was the impetus for his allergies, evident in his reaching for a lone roll of toilet paper to silently blow his already dripping nose. Quietness was his best feature, or so he thought. The characteristic had truly made him into who he is today and saved his life many a time.

She crosses the window in a bath towel, her skin seemed to be clinging to the last bit of moisture from her evening bath, or maybe he was imagining it. Watching her was better than any television program or film, more entertaining than a theater show, and more satisfying than sex. She was of auburn hair, which lay in a tangled dark mess down her bare shoulders from the wetness of her bath.  And for that moment, her crossing the window, she was his. She and the whole world was his.

A fly landed on his left pant leg, a thin milk white extremity covered by frayed jeans from his college days. He paid no mind to the fly; let it sit and stroke its antennas and do whatever exactly flies do when they land.  He would be certain to let that fly live. He wiped the condensation that had gathered on the arm of the lawn chair onto his hand and with one motion ran his hand over his forehead and through the mat of curly dirt brown hair. It was hot; even though the sun was making its final call before its departure and inviting the moon and stars to come out to play. There is a never ending game of tag with the sun and the moon. Cat and mouse is to moon and sun.

He ignored the honks of soccer moms as they drove by in their ten year old minivans that were dented by atrocities that society likes to call children. Instead, his attention once again focused to the cracked open windows and the young woman that was teasing him inside. Surely she knew that he was looking. Why else would she parade herself around in a piece of linen that was barely passable as a towel? Faintly he heard the melodic tune of a piano piece drifting from her window inviting his senses to create a new addition to the many fantasies that he has created for the two of them.

The world melts away.

He is in that room with the lingerie like window treatments. He knows this room as if it were his own clinically white room with the lone mattress on the floor. He walks in a cocky manner to the bathroom door, knowing quite well she was bathing. Time can conveniently reverse in one’s dreams. The old door moans in exertion when he opens it. Heart suddenly pounding in his chest, thrusting adrenaline into his being; his palms are already damp. The door opens and an old tub and new legs are in his vision. Bronzed legs from the summer months spent running along the shore hang out of the tub to one side, as if she were once a mermaid and had returned to her innate habit of having only one large extremity instead of two nifty ones.

Her eyes are closed and streaks of sun are kissing her eyelids. She is listening to a classical piano piece that he probably knew the name of at one point in his life, but upon first glance at her is erased from his present thoughts. The bath is filled to the brim, almost overflowing with her nude body and rotund bubbles. She is in her own little world. He steps silently into the bathroom, almost shadow like. With every step his heart seems to beat a little faster with hopeless anticipation. Another step. He wipes his clammy hand across his chest on his t-shirt. The rusted tub is close to his legs. His head is hovering over her and his stare so intense it is as if he is studying some Monet or abstract Picasso that he is so close to figuring out the meaning to. She does not flinch. She does not seem to hear him, sense him, at all.

He feels his eyes start to well up with tears. Of happiness it seems at first. He had been away from her for so long and this reunion was emotional if not cathartic. Kneeling, as he did in his days in Catholic school, he submerges one hand into the tub, diving through the sudsy top layer into the lukewarm underbelly of the bath and strokes her hand. Her eyes open heavily, as if returning from an unworldly dream. Slow to react to wake to the world that she had fought so hard to forget for just a moment. Focusing her vision, she sets her eyes on him. Right before his hands clamp her neck and thrusts her under the tub. He waits while she is submerged and for her bronze legs to stop splashing and making a terrible mess of the bathroom. It ends. He gets up.

A blast of loud music from a speeding car that obviously was owned by some ne’er do well teen, snapped him out of his trance. Sometimes he lets her live, like he let that fly live. Those sometimes moments are rare and occur when his feelings, those nasty things that he so likes to ignore disappear, are torturing someone else. Some other poor soul.

She is beautiful, he thinks as he catches a final glimpse at her through the still ajar window, dressed for an evening out with maybe a beau or a close group of friends. A buzzing consumes his hearing as that once peacefully resting fly zooms past his left ear. After what seems like half of a moment he reaches into the air and grabs the fly. A seemingly impossible task. But not for him. Never for him. He feels the fly bouncing around the temporary enclosure that is his hand, panicking in its prison. He catches sight of her leaving her room and hears what may be her sing song voice calling to another inside the dwelling. She slips out the front door and into a car. He watches, fly in hand, as she leaves. Decidedly, he frees the fly. He promised no harm be done to the fly.

He said no such things about the girl with the auburn hair.

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