Windows and Tunnels
Written by EvanC
This work was last updated June 21, 2020
The summer was hot and the air conditioner was broken, so I spent a large amount of time at my window.
The view was nice from the 27th floor, in a city too cramped for its own liking.
I gave up on my fear of a pigeon flying in and left the window open at all times. The last hour of my day was always spent leaning out the window. The air was cool and refreshing in the summer evenings. Far below the little people and the little cars acted all busy, only looking like ants from up here. I relaxed with the wind being the only traffic I could hear. I liked to imagine that I was playing Sim City as I watched them.
Across was another building that mirrored my own. It’s lined with windows, most obscured by curtains, though some are exposed revealing the lives inside. And some windows are occupied, with residences leaning their hair out in the cool breeze.
The window directly across.
At least I thought it was directly across on the exact same level and position, but I couldn’t be certain if my imagination was making up the details. A woman leaned out an open window, similar to how I did. I don’t remember who started window living first and who was copying the other, but it didn’t matter. We shared a smile and exchanged a wave as we watched each other’s buildings and the street below.
The street was wide and our separation was distant, but it felt rather close. Sometimes when I looked out long enough, I felt like the separation wasn’t that far. That if I focused hard enough I could hear her faint voice ask, “What windows do you see?”
There was an interesting window, slightly lower and to the right from hers. Perched at the window sill was a large luminescent fishbowl, housing a lone fish. The glowing blue fishbowl stood out from the grey building wall. It was too far to tell, but I imagined it was a betta fish. They usually live alone, right? Living alone is nice, could be happy on your own. I supposed the view of the city must have been luxurious for a fish.
I looked back at the girl across and pointed to the window and tried to tell her about the fishbowl. She shook her head dismissively. She pointed upwards and started to playfully dance, saying that I should see the dance party happening several floors directly above me.
She explained that almost every night the most exciting looking dance parties took place. Glowing lights alternated between blue, red, and other flashy colours as attractive youths danced. It was like watching characters from a movie, she couldn’t believe it was real. She continued to say that she tried to count how many people attended the parties but could never tell as they shuffled in and out of view.
“The people below appear to not appreciate the dance party.” She concluded.
I looked up at my ceiling, wondering if I could hear the dancing from above. But my ceiling only responded in its usual silence.
Looking back outside, I spotted and was reminded of one of the more interesting windows.
“Here’s a window:” I told the girl across.
At the edge of the building, a middle aged man lived there and was almost always completely naked. I supposed it’s one way to stay cool from the heat but he could have at least not left his curtains wide open. I really couldn’t help but watch. He wasn’t even handsome, rather middle aged and average looking with his gut hanging out. I would see him walk past his window every now and then doing normal tasks, in the nude. Does he realize how exposed he is through the window or does he just not care? I wondered what he wears when he goes out.
“Gross,” she said and concluded with, “lucky you.”
We watched the sights without talking. We rested and enjoyed the cool breeze.
She pointed, indicating the window that was several spots left of mine. She imitated putting a cigarette between her lips and lighting it with an imaginary lighter. She slowly inhales the cigarette, savoring the rare treat, looking to the distance but at nothing in particular. Finally she came back to reality and exhaled the smoke, and wordlessly passed the cigarette to the imaginary man next to her. The couple smoking at the window several spots from mine, they’re old and tired, but every evening, they performed their wordless tradition of sharing one cigarette.
The girl across finished her performance of the couple and flicked the imaginary cigarette down to the city below. She waved her hand goodbye and closed her window before the nighttime spiders crept in.
The next day, the windowsill cat gave me a visit.
It was a Saturday so I was spending the afternoon at my window trying to survive the summer heat. The cat leapt from the window above and landed on a ledge of the building and sat next to me. There it relaxed and laid down absorbing the sun’s rays.
I couldn’t tell if it wanted to be rubbed so I let it be and continued looking at the street below. I asked the cat, “Any interesting windows in this building?”
“No.” the cat plainly replied.
“What about the dance party up above?”
There’s no dance parties happening here. In fact, there are no interesting windows.”
“Well your window is somewhat interesting.”
“Do you ever think of how the other window watchers view you? The person always sitting at their window all the time. Every night you’re here. Anyone that looks at you must think you have a boring life with all the time you spend here. ‘Don’t you have anything better to do’, they must think. You’re no different from a fish alone in a fishbowl.”
“You’re not a very nice cat.”
“You know you’re delusional for talking to someone all the way at the other building.”
I dismissed his comment and focused on the traffic jam below being caused by someone trying to three-point turn. I did not like the cat’s presence and the cat felt it. It got up and jumped down out of sight to a lower window.
The sun was glowing orange as it set. The girl across opened her window. I felt myself instinctively smile. She picked something up and showed, with an over exaggerated gesture, a camera. Specifically, one of those old instant cameras.
She took a picture of my window. Even though a street divided us, the flash still made me blink. The film came out and she shook the picture in the air waiting for the image to develop. She looked at it and her smile showed that she was content with the picture.
She started to fold the photo into a paper airplane. She held it in her hand, ready for takeoff. She waited for the evening wind to calm down. I watched in anticipation.
The wind disappeared, she brought her arm back, and as her hand came forward, the plane lifted off. It flew true and straight between the buildings. It seemed to be impossible that a folded piece of paper could fly so well. As if gravity didn’t exist and we were in space, the plane flew through a tunnel from her window to mine.
But then the wind picked up. The pilot panicked and the plane lost control. It flew away, down towards the street somewhere out of view.
My heart sank. I looked back at the girl across and she was still looking at the last known location before the disappearance of Flight Window Picture. Finally she looked back up towards my window. She shrugged and so did I. We shared a small giggle, and then relaxed in our windows, looking at the sights around us in the hot summer evening.