Monday, 1 December 2008

the lady who looked in through the window


some people are born to live. they grab life with both hands, wringing every ounce of experience out of it. on a windy day they turn their face into the wind, relishing the air. when the sun shines they bask in its warmth. and when it rains they stick out their tongue, to catch the raindrops.

some people are different. it may be something in the chemicals in their brain. or something that happened in their life. but whatever causes it, these people walk through life with their shoulders hunched; they dread what the day holds.

the lady who looked in through the window was the second sort of person. she was born into a family without laughter. from the day she opened her eyes she only saw tears in the eyes of her mother and anger in the eyes of her father. the lady had an older brother. he had seen more of life. he had been beaten by the father, and shouted at, and told he was useless, every single day. one day he decided he had seen enough of life. he checked out, handed back the keys. at his funeral the father stared straight ahead, unmoved by the death of his son.

each day the mother curled a little more in on herself, slid a little further away from the sun. her essence leached out of her, into the earth. one day she decided she too had seen enough of life. she disappeared in a cloud of vapour, mixing with the swirling clouds. at her funeral the father stared straight ahead, unmoved.

the daughter was clever. she studied, tried to make something of herself. but she was visited by bleak thoughts, dark dreams, and ghosts. she heard voices, calling from far away, but she could never hear what they said.

the father grew older. with age he grew frail. the daughter was glad. it meant he could no longer beat her. for a time he carried on shouting at her, telling her that she was the cause of her mother's death. then he couldn't walk. he was given a wheelchair. he had to rely on his daughter to look after him. time went by. his daughter grew stronger as he grew weaker. his anger seeped into her bones. she took to shouting at him, telling him he was useless. it was just how they did things in their family.

one day, some people came from far away and moved into the house next door. there was a mother, a father, a grown up son, and two little children. the children were joyful little things. they sang and danced and played. the family loved each other. they chatted, and ate together and played music. the children played in the street with the local children. they sometimes heard the lady next door shouting at her father and thought it was odd. but they didn't take much notice. life was too full of fun to worry.

the lady next door could hear the laughter and the singing and the music. she could feel the warmth and love coming through the walls like the heat of the sun. after a time she could think of nothing else. she paced up and down in the house, shouting and muttering in turn at her father, sitting in his wheelchair. she began to wonder what magic the house next door held. how could a house that was identical to her own have so much joy and warmth?

one night she crept into the garden of the house next door. she crept down the side of the house and looked in through the window. inside the people from far away were playing a board game and laughing. the lady felt an odd feeling inside. it was like something was melting. she felt something on her face and realised it was a tear.

after that the lady took to creeping round and looking in through the window every day. she would mutter to herself about how she hated the people in the warm house. she would use words that were not nice. when she went to bed she would listen through the wall to the grown up son, playing music in his bedroom. she dreamed of him loving her and asking her to marry him. but she knew this would not happen. no one would ever love her.

as time went on the lady began to feel rage against the people in the warm house. why did they have so much love? surely some of it was hers? that was why she had no love, because it had been stolen. the lady took to shouting at the people in the warm house through the window. she banged on the walls, shouting things that were not nice, about the place they came from, and about their children, and the grown up son. she called the police and reported things that were not true. she threw things into the garden of the warm house. eventually the people told the sheriff about what was happening. the sheriff went to the wizard and asked for a magic scroll to keep the lady away so the people in the warm house could live in peace.

when the lady who looked in through the window was given the magic scroll she read through it. as she read it she realised that she would no longer be able to watch the family being happy. she realised that she would have to go back to shouting at her father. this made her feel very bad. even though she was angry and jealous, some of the family's happiness had seeped through the window and touched her cold, sad life. later that day she went upstairs and opened the cupboard in the bathroom. she took out all the tablets and potions and took them into her bedroom. and she swallowed them all, one by one.

her father noticed later on that there was no-one shouting at him. he rang for help. the lady was taken to the hospital and connected to a lot of machines. for a day and a night the machines bleeped and clicked. but the lady who looked in through the window had already gone.

at her funeral the only people there were the father and a person who came to push his wheelchair. the father sat in his wheelchair by the grave, while the person who came to push his wheelchair went to have a quiet smoke. i suppose the father stared straight ahead, unmoved, but there was no-one there to see.

1 comment:

Anonymous me said...

Some things make you weep and you can't think why that is exactly ... except perhaps a recognition of such deep despair, which calls to my heart. It speaks volumes of a level of sadness almost impossible to comprehend ... almost, but not quite. Truly powerful imagery.