Oct/Nov 2015  •   Fiction

Window and Walk

by Jesse Minkert

Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona

Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona

The air outside blows its warm breath on the glass. The sun carves bent rectangles on the carpet. They creep across the floor and up the wall.

In the street, a woman glides by on a skateboard. I want to know where she's going and who she'll meet. Will she keep her board close, or stand it in a corner by an umbrella stand, or leave it in the middle of the floor where someone might step on it and fall? Maybe they'll all have skateboards, or skis, or bicycles, or scooters, or high-tech cross-training shoes. I don't have anything like that. I don't even drive a car.

Even if I could get near this skateboarding woman, I don't know if she'd talk to me. Or like me. She might take me with her. I might pull her along as fast as I can run. She'd never leave me alone in the apartment.

But now she's out of sight. She wasn't right for me anyway. She's probably one of those people who swing from mood to mood too quickly for me to keep up. I wouldn't know how to respond. I'd feel a loss of trust. Fear.

When I'm afraid, I lose my temper and do hurtful things to strike back from inside the pain. I'd rather stay out of that situation. I like to have friends.

I'm bored with this place. I've memorized every stick of furniture, every lamp and bowl and candle on every surface. I've done nothing all day but wait for my best friend to appear and invite me to go out. I starve for the bright, busy world, the sounds, the sights, the smells coming from every direction. I get frustrated. I need to DO something, but what I want to do is not acceptable. She speaks harshly to me, but what does she expect? I wasn't born to stare out a window. I want to live. I want to feel the sun and smell the car exhaust on the wind.

Her key rattles in the door. Here she is! Here she is! Here she is! I kiss her face. I scamper from room to room. May we go out now? Yes, she says, we shall. I hurry to put on my socks and shoes.

We move along the walk. We smile at others, stop and speak. But someone speaks unkindly. I'm not aggressive by nature. I like everybody, but I don't back down, not of my own accord.

She pulls me away. We keep going. My good mood returns.

She stops and enters a place. Music and pungent smells of coffee drift out. I sit on a chair on the patio. I like the air out here. Noises, cars, and people. My senses are tuned high. All these fascinating souls shuffle by with their brown bags swinging by their legs. I want to know what's in all the bags. I want to learn all their stories.

The skateboard woman slides by, off on another adventure. I wish I could join her, but something keeps me where I am. I suppose that's for the best, because my best friend is just inside this place. If she came out and discovered I had run away with someone else, she might panic. She might run along the sidewalks calling out my name. It would be humiliating. And anyway she keeps me fed.

I wish she'd hurry up and finish whatever she's doing and come out here so we can go. I want to study the tufts of dandelions, the hedges turning green along the fences. I want to watch the birds and squirrels hop and scurry.

Curb your impatience, I scold myself. She knows what she's doing.

Here she comes at last, and we follow our familiar path, past smelly dumpsters and tree roots clutching at the dirt, back to the apartment. We have dinner. She settles on the couch, and I curl up with my head in her lap. I can't imagine how any moment could be better than this.