10 January 2010

Looking out


Looking out as she drank her coffee the sun splashed against the windows of a house across the corner, spilled yellow through the floor to ceiling patio windows in her flat. She loved the windows, although they would have been more of a joy to her had they not had to be fully shrouded in muslin for privacy. If they had been overlooking a rocky seashore with white spume and roiling waves.

She lived on the ground floor of a new apartment block right in the town centre; people and cars trickled past at most hours of the day; shoppers with baskets in their grips for daily groceries from the market, workers in the offices of the next block and visitors to the bar underneath the offices. At weekends tourists ambled past, having seen the Abbey and the market square, come to gaze on the remaining segment of the old city wall opposite her living room.
She twitched the curtain to see outside, to drink up the brightness after a flurry of cloudy days, yesterdays snow still white on the paths and branches and on the leaves droopy with cold; the snow was crisped up with the overnight frost.
Watching the people out and about their daily lives. The smart looking woman, maybe the same age as her, swinging black coat but treading carefully with stiletto heels biting into the icy snow to stop her slipping at each step. The thin chinless man, a scarf wrapped across his mouth to keep in the precious warm and wet breath, a small protection from sucking cold into his lungs. He was walking with a small dog that had a bobbly red blanket jacket (gilet?) as well as it's own fleecy coat.
She thought, although it was not a new one, a habitual sneer about the stupid animal, being tethered to go for walks, she thought about how stupid the man was to own a tiny dog like that, it seemed an admission that his life was small and conventional and rulebound. She thought that the dogs paws must surely be the coldest part, why not little boots?
She was surprised to lock gazes with the man as he glanced up, surprised that he did not immediately look away, scurry away with the dog.
Afterwards he wondered often what colour her eyes were, his brain had not grasped or processed that information as he looked at the woman in her short nightdress, her hair dishevelled and as ginger as the cat that twined through her ankles, its tail tickling her pale knee.
The muslin veil of curtain dropped in front of her and her pale bare legs, shrouded the sunshine as she blinked his gaze out of her eyes.


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