September 14, 2011

the window and the mirror.

That stainless steel bowl in her hands is starting to bother me. She is stirring something that looks like batter, so I’m sure she’s baking for friends or new neighbors. She presses her ear into the phone and when she laughs, stirs faster. I watch her through the window from my spot outside of the house. This chair under the trees is my sanctuary, away from the world, away from her. I read, hang with the neighbors, be silent, and sit with my dog. Yet, I’m not away really from her at all. I continue to haunt her. She talks on the phone and looks vacantly right at me, but doesn’t acknowledge me. As usual, she is preoccupied by something else – gossip, dishes, a joke, baking, anything really. There was a time where she would wave or smile at me, now it’s the landscape around me she digests. She looks through me, and does not see me.

I stare hard enough to see the flour on her purple apron. She walks away from the window. These small rejections are starting to mount for me, so I try to focus on something else. This land is my retreat. My Dad built this farmhouse for my mom 50 years ago and as the only son, it became mine by default. I didn’t earn it and don’t really know how to take care of it, but it eases my mind in moments like this. The dog pops his head up as a truck slowly approaches. It’s old Cam. He sputters by and holds up a steady calloused hand. I wave back with my pathetic soft hand. The truck gets going as slow as it stopped, but surely it makes its way down the road until it’s a pea on the horizon. I look back at the window and she’s gone. The chair cracks as I stretch out and lean back into the sun. Things sound different out here. I like it. Every noise is dampened, yet magnified by the silence. The dog jumps up at the sound of a faint whistle and darts around the side of the house for a meal. She never forgets to feed him. Or forgets anything really. The chores on this land are enough to keep two people occupied for a lifetime. It overwhelms me every day, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. Suddenly she reappears in the window. On the phone again. My mind begins to sink into darkness, then it strikes me.

I need the window. It’s not a mirror looking back at myself that grows me. It’s a window. It’s separateness that I need. A woman with a force on the earth that I can’t control or manipulate. She is her own beating heart with ambitions and loves different from my own. She needs to bake. The best thing she has to offer me is her strange and complete uniqueness. The tearing and meshing at which we meet in the middle is only a bonus to how extraordinary she is. I sit stunned.

In the midst of cleaning up the kitchen she stops directly in front of the window and looks out. I’m not sure if she is looking at me. I smile and wave to her. She smiles back, disappears momentarily, then reappears in the window with a large smile holding up the cake she just baked. It has my name written on it.


  1. I love the insights and I love the ending.

  2. I like that the narrator is endearingly makes the last paragraph hit hard (I'll admit, I got teary). The last line is gold. GREAT vignette.

  3. I also like the vulnerability that the narrator has. The epiphany that he has about his woman is really beautiful.

  4. As abbs and I talked about this story one of the moments I missed talking more about what that epiphany. While its somewhat natural, it also was an oppotunity for me to delve more into the mirror/window concept. I struggle to flesh out changes like that but its important for me because those are moments that move stories along. I struggle to not sound cheesy or trite when I talk about those pivotal moments.