Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Little Window



(Morning in a quaint, Victorian hotel. A sleepy, tree-lined town.)


"Excuse me. I'm sorry. Excuse me."

"Yes? Mr. Sinclair?"

"Yes. Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you, but I have kind of a strange question. A little urgent, though. A little bit important."

"Go ahead."

"What is that little window right there?"

"Window?"

"Yes. That little window. Down there."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"That window! Over on that wall by the floor!"

"Oh. Yes. People sometimes ask about that."

"Do they? Yes, well, I suppose they do. Obviously. I mean it's obvious, right? A weird window like that? Anyone would ask. Anyone would be curious."

"Are you alright, Mr. Sinclair?"

"Yes. Fine. Yes."

"Can I get you something to drink? You seem very flushed."

"I'm not flushed."

"Actually, you are."

"Why would someone put a window so close to the floor? It doesn't make any sense!"

"Is something upsetting you?"

"Upsetting me?"

"You seem rather upset."

"Well I asked you a question!"

"A question?"

"YES! WHAT IS THAT WINDOW?!?"

"Well, I don't know what to say. It's rather strange, if that's what you mean."

"It's so close to the floor."

"Yes."

"I mean, it doesn't go to the outside, right? I don't see any daylight. And that's an inside wall, not an outside one."

"I should get you something to drink. And a seat. Would you like to have a seat, Mr. Sinclair?"

"What would a window like that be for? It doesn't make any sense!"

"You don't have to raise your voice, Mr. Sinclair."

"Sorry."

"I just want you to calm down."

"But--"

"You keep looking at the window, Mr. Sinclair. Constantly. It may be better if you didn't."

"Pardon me?"

"Look at me! Yes, over here. Look at me."

(Turning reluctantly. Glancing back.)

"That's better, isn't it? Take a deep breath, Mr. Sinclair. What would you like to drink?"

"I don't understand."

"I know. Your drink?"

"A Coke. I guess."

"I'll get you some tea. Jasmine tea. The fragrance is wonderful for getting your mind off things."

"Okay. Alright. Okay."

"Yes. Sit down. Rest for a moment. There's a lovely magazine on the table there. It's about scientific discoveries. Would you mind picking it up?"

(After a distracted delay.) "Why?"

"There's a wonderful article about superconductors. Or the future of space travel, if you prefer."

"You read that?"

"Keeps an old woman's mind young, if you will. I'm going to get your tea. It would be better if you concentrated on the magazine."

"But--"

"I'll be back in a moment. You'll be okay."

(He pages through the articles, but the words won't stick. He turns to stare at the little window.)

"Mr. Sinclair?"

(...)

"Mr. Sinclair."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"Turn over here. This way. I have your tea. Lovely fragrance, no?"

"Yes. Lovely."

"You seem very preoccupied, Mr. Sinclair. And tired. You didn't sleep well, did you?"

"No."

"I understand."

"You do?"

"Yes."

"What is that window? Can you tell me?"

"You must stop dwelling on it."

"I can't! I don't even remember if I noticed it when I came in yesterday. I probably didn't. But somehow it's been on my mind. Up in my room. When I was trying to sleep. When I stood in the shower and washed my hair. I don't think I really understood what I was thinking about all this time until I came down here just now and saw it."

"It happens. Sometimes. I'm sorry."

"What happens?"

"This. Right now. What's happening to you."

"Why can't I get that window out of my head?"

"I don't know."

"Part of me wants to break it. I could just kick it in! I could do it so easily."

"Mr. Sinclair, listen to me! You have to go. You have leave right this instant and never come back here again."

"Who would put a window there, anyway? Who would use it?"

"It's there. That's all that matters."

"It doesn't make any sense!"

"It doesn't have to make sense."

"Who would even look through such a window?"

"Mr. Sinclair--"

(Realizing.) "A child! A child would look through that window!"

"You are going to leave, Mr. Sinclair. I'm serious. If you come back, I will call the police. I will have you arrested."

"Children love that window."

"You're not listening, Mr. Sinclair."

"But they can't see through, can they?"

"Mr. Sinclair, you must listen to what I'm saying!"

"They come through there, don't they? In that little room that's been covered up? The dead children come through there. From all around. Right through that one room."

"Pack your things. Walk up the stairs and pack your things."

"But they like the window. They like the crystal and cut glass. They stand and stare and don't bleed into the other rooms and hallways."

"Think of home, Mr. Sinclair. Think of work and all things waiting for you to come back and take care of."

"They stare until they get bored and drift away through the ceiling. I can see their invisible mist as they rise up through the trees."

"Wait. Where are you going, Mr. Sinclair?"

"Mists, slipping away."

"Sit down!"

"So many little eyes on that window. So many blank faces with smooth, unspoiled skin."

"Mr. Sinclair!"

"If only I could just--"

"DON'T PUT YOUR FINGERS ON THE GLASS!"


(Question: When you look back at the picture of the window now, do you feel differently than when you first saw it?)

21 comments:

the walking man said...

It is a picture of a nicely made piece pf glass. It wasn't a window until the commentary told me that it was. After reading Mr. Sinclair's obsession with it and the mistress of the house reluctance to offer any explanation...in the back drop of a thunderstorm going over my house at the moment...it is still a nicely made piece of glass with a compelling secret obsession behind it.

Karen said...

I love the character you have created here. Like TWM, I see a pretty piece of frosted, leaded glass. In Mr. Sinclair, I see crazy!

Margaret said...

This piece of fiction captivated me from start to finish Jason.

At the beginning the window looked nothing but a quaint little window but when I looked back at the picture after reading your piece, it had so much more! This time I saw every detail of it. It felt like it was compelling me to, not just look at it, but to look beyond it.

Fascinating!!

....Petty Witter said...

Just a pretty piece of glass before - now it's so much more, I look at and feel kind of chilled and yet kind of warm all at the same time, mixed with a sense of foreboding.

Amazing the power of words. Thanks for such a wonderful story, I really wasn't expecting it to take me in this direction.

Seré said...

This immediately drew me in and kept me until the last word. I suspect it will keep me longer; you've created a haunting and intriguing scene here, Jason. And yes, the window looks completely different at the second look.

Bebo said...

Oh ho! Neat trick, that!
Turning my perception from the frosted glass of a front door (perhaps) to a different kind of portal altogether...

Akasha Savage. said...

That so hooked me. I enjoyed every word, right up to the very end. Well done. :)

jason evans said...

Walking Man, I snapped this picture of my sister-in-law's front door around Christmas time. Now it will always be something a bit different.

Karen, Mr. Sinclair has definitely been touched by something. That kind of obsession is never good.

Margaret, I love that! After I wrote the story, I tried to look beyond it too. And I was a bit afraid to succeed.

Petty, thanks! I've had this picture hanging around, not sure how to use it. Yesterday, on the train, this suddenly came to me. I'm happy with it. :)

Sere, thanks, my friend. :) I was really hoping that the voice and conversation were compelling. It was written so quickly, though. I did my best to build the tension with the time I had. I think this one will stick with me too!

Bebo, the idea to ask the question came to me just before I posted it! I found myself seeing the glass in a very different way. I wondered if others would too.

Akasha, that is so cool to hear! I really wanted it grab fast and not let go. Sometimes it's a really challenge to do posts quickly, though.

Raj said...

and here i am expecting technology and what and what not. damn you had me captured in a weasel dance.

Wild Rose said...

Jason...very intriguing indeed and was also curious as Mr. Sinclair was and then it got even more mind boggling...Why is that window there? Made me feel like am in a prison of some sort trying to look outside but i barely can see much through the window. Places in our minds that are dark where we imprison ourselves..

Well i want to see where this leads..

SzélsőFa said...

to answer your question: absolutely.
i was expecting something else. don't exactly know what, though.
just something else.

and please, what is this window for?
:)))

Meghan said...

That completely hooked me. There was a great building of tension as Sinclair kept asking about the window over and over and more urgently. And the ending made me flinch back as if I was right there about to touch the window. Great job!

Valerie Geary said...

I got chills! Started reading, couldn't stop. Loved it!!

jason evans said...

Raj, no, not technology this time. Just a bit of creepiness.

Wild Rose, that's a good way to see it. The dialogue is very limiting, unrolling in small pieces. You feel the frustration too.

Szelsofa, I imagine that it was really impossible to guess where I was taking the story. It's definitely a strange one.

Meghan, that was the most important goal for me. I really wanted to the tension to build in realistic way. Glad it did that for you!

Valerie, awesome! Thank you for telling me. :)

Atrisa said...

Oh towards the end I kept thinking they were in an asylum and Mr Sinclair was a patient there and the lady his nurse. Extreme OCD perhaps.

Can you build on it further? It has great potential to evolve into a short play like some of the Kafka stuff.

SzélsőFa said...

and what's more, i felt a constant switching as to answer the 'who's insane and who's not' question throughout the writing.
basically, i sympathized with mr. sinclair and found the lady kind of agressive/reluctant/ignorant.
mr. sinclair may have gone a bit, just a slightly bit nuts, but the lady is better to be avoided.

:)

Erratic Thoughts said...

This is amazing!
Truly Loved it...
As I've said earlier, you are just too good in building a story with conversation and you did it again!
Who would've thought of a mystery with that small glass window, but you :)
Okay, I admit after reading this I gave a narrowed, searching can-I-guess-the-mystery look at the pic :D
Excellent!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Great work, Jason. Love the hint of lunacy... I couldn't read this fast enough...each line made me want more and more!!! SUPERB!

jason evans said...

Atrisa, you're at least the second person to encourage me to do more with this one. I'll give it some thought....

Szelsofa, yes, the old woman is hard to pin down. She's aware, has seen this before, and yet works near this window every day.

Erratic Thoughts, this time, I thought I'd not limit myself totally to dialogue and give myself the freedom to use some screenplay tools. It was kind of fun. I wonder if I should go this route more often.

Kaye, that's the best kind of thing to hear! It's wonderful to be pulled headlong into a story.

Terri said...

Before, it was a pretty piece of glass. After, it looked positively sinister!

This piece somehow reminds me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show..! All is not what it seems and all that :)

jason evans said...

Terri, I don't know if I'm the only one, but I just can't sit through Rocky Horror. I really like parts of it, though. Tim Curry is awesome. Maybe I need to bring him in to look at this window.