Small fingers traced over dirty glass and across the smudges of old fingerprints pressed there by another. Over the frame they went, the rough wood pickling smooth fingertips, and above the cold steel of a padlock they skimmed. Dark brown eyes peered out from sunken sockets, and twiny auburn locks fell limply on hunched shoulders. Defeat took it’s place upon the girls shadowed face, which angled up towards the waning light as if it could give her release. Eyes tracked the empty street below, watching for anyone. She counted each brick in the crumbling house across the street again – knowing what the number would come out to. A sliver of movement caught her eye then, through a broken window on the upper floor of the old house. A spark lit in her usually subdued eyes.
He was back.
Muscles rippled as he pulled off a stained shirt, back turned towards her shivering frame. She watched closely, nose pressed against the glass, breath causing misty clouds to form on the frigid surface. He continued with his routine she knew only too well. A cup of coffee, one spoonful of sugar, a sip, then another spoonful. Then a short walk to the fridge where pictures of were taped. When he reached into the fridge she already knew what he would be getting. A small cup of chocolate mousse, a treat to end his day. Sweetness she herself had never experienced. Then he sat down on his computer chair, taking a slow, elongated bite of his chocolate. Feet tapped a rhythm against the floor, light-hearted but full of purpose.
She knew what was coming.
His chair creeped around, turning his body to face the window centimeter by centimeter. His eyes found hers immediately, and a hitch caught in her throat. He could see her. Every time he looked out of that window and caught her eye, she felt the jump of surprise. For how many months and years had she heard that she was no one, a nothing, a mirage that did not exist – worthless. Yet here he was once again, and now his hand was at his cheek, tracing a light line down from his ear to mouth. She knew what he was saying. Her own fingers reached up to touch the new wound. A dark line of red, puckering at the middle. She didn’t flinch – she couldn’t put anymore sadness into those deep blue eyes. His lips formed words then ones she could never decipher, and his palm rose to press against the glass of his opposite window. Resting her grimy forehead against the windowpane, she replicated his gesture. Then, like always, she sucked in a deep breath, pretending to be breathing the same air as he, and closed her eyes, imagining that it was just a cold palm her hand was touching, and not a boundary that she would never live to cross.