The Window

It happened February 18th after coming off the graveyard shift, muscling freight, outside, all night, on the dock. Ragged, cold, and tired, Mr. Z unlocked the door to a quiet home and sat at the kitchen table for a drink. He looked out the window at the freshly fallen snow. “It looks nice, before the world mixes it up,” he thought.

He noticed two sets of footprints along the house. “That’s not right, what are those doing there? It started snowing after I got to work and it stopped a few hours later. It’s Saturday morning. Nobody is ever out this early.”

The footprints were close to the house. Z walked to the living room where the footprints tracked up to the window. Someone had been there earlier, looking in. He swept a spider web from the windowsill.

He went outside to see where the tracks came from. He followed them down the street. They led up the stairs of a big gray house. Z stood in front looking up at the porch. The old lady that lived there was standing inside the doorway, smiling and waving at him. Z walked up the stairs.

She opened the door. “C’mon in Mr. Z,” she said.

“Are you the one who was by my window last night?” he asked.

“Yes, that was us,” she said.

“What were you doing there in the middle of the night?”

“I’m sorry, I wanted to see if it was the same as I remembered,” she said.

“I don’t understand,” Z said. “What do you mean? Did you know someone who lived there?”

“Yes. I had friends that lived there. But before that, I went to school there.” She took Z’s arm, “Come here and sit down,” she said. “Your house was first built and used as a school. It was a pretty little white building with red trim. The roof had a cupola with a small brass bell. I was the bell ringer . . . teachers’ pet. You look surprised.”

Z leaned back in the chair. “You know when I think about it, that doesn’t surprise me. I know the house is old, a hundred years. At times I’ve wondered what the town was like back then.”

The old lady smiled. “It was mostly farmland and fields around here. There were houses and some shops by the railroad tracks; the hardware store, barbershop, a grocery, and the little town hall.”

Z felt as if he was going into a trance. He squinted. Her face was transformed. Her skin was smooth. Her soft brown eyes were clear and bright. Her hair was long and curly with a rich auburn shine.

“And I met my husband in your living room,” she went on. “When we would have a dance on Saturday, we would invite the kids from the next county and have a mix. It was love at first sight. Now you know why we were looking through your window last night. The first time we met he took me out to the front porch and we watched the full moon rise in the east. We could see to the horizon. Do you want something to drink, Z?”

Z stood and rubbed his eyes. “I think I should go now,” he said. It was nice talking to you

Mrs. . . .?”

“It’s Mrs. McGuire,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to chat with you but you always seemed so busy, I didn’t want to bother you. I’m happy we finally had a chance to talk.”

Z went home and sat at his kitchen table, looking out the window. A funeral procession was going down the street. His wife came into the room.

“You’re home a little late today,” she said. “Did you work over in that awful weather, Hon?” “No, I was just down the street, but whose funeral is this,” he said.

“That’s Mrs. McGuire. She passed away a few days ago. They’re doing a drive-by at the house. Remember her in the purple hat walking down the street. She never said much but, hello. She’s with her hubby now, again, I’m sure. Why are you looking at me like that?”

June 2022 Issue

El Ojo del Lago – Home Page

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Rico Wallace
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