By Edele Winnie
Through the broken window blind she could see his mouth. Just his mouth, as he frowned, as he ate, as he smiled. She did not know what his eyes looked like. She had never seen his face, or his body. Never heard his voice or saw his hair. Just his mouth. The lips. The teeth, sometimes the sneak of the tongue. And she fell in love.
It seemed crazy. She was a reasonably normal young woman, a bit on the scrawny side, brown hair and brown eyes with an unfortunate penchant for the dramatic- but only when it came to love, she reminded herself. Love was some kind of a drug and she could not stop watching his mouth through the blinds.
Was it an obsession? She started out thinking that it was not. It was just curiosity. A tiny peek into another house, another person’s life. She did not know her neighbour, had not known that it was a man with a mouth like that. A mouth made for kissing, for saying I want you beside me always.
As the winter days passed she found herself sitting at the kitchen table more frequently, staring out her window at his window and waiting for the mouth to appear in the rupture in the blinds. The blinds looked different sometimes. She sensed that things were somehow changing.. Somehow, he now knew that she was watching. He missed her. He needed her.
She was not surprised when the mouth began talking. It was always in profile, so it was difficult in the beginning to understand what he was saying. But she practiced. She persevered. She filmed the talking mouth on her phone and made the moves with her own lips in a mirror until his words came in her mouth. When she finally figured it out the first time she began shaking and crying.
“I like it when you watch me.” She said his words out loud again. I like it when you watch me. He knew. He knew. He knew.
As the days went by he talked more and more. She taped it, held it in her mouth, and spoke it, over and over again.
“I hope you’re not cold.” She wasn’t.
“Get some sleep, sweetie.” He was calling her sweetie now.
“You look so beautiful.” He must be secretly watching her.
She held herself in her own arms and danced and twirled in the cold living room. There was magic connecting them, magic making music and she could hear its symphony. The walls between them were nothing, only wood and concrete and she felt that she could easily pass through them. She glided to the section of wall by the computer and smacked her face into the wall paper. Her head shot back, she lost her balance and fell backwards and banged her head on a wooden chair.
She lay on her side, blood trickling down her face and into her mouth. She wanted to sob, she want to weep for the pain- not the blood and the cracked head, but for the truth of the wall. There was so much between them, but so much keeping them apart. Tears would not come.
She lay on the floor until the hard wood had sucked most of the heat from her body. She stirred, like rising from a coma. Was she delusional? Her head still ached and her insistence that she could walk through walls an hour before embarrassed her now. She knew she sometimes got too involved in things. But she’d thought this was different. She felt ashamed. She didn’t want to go back into her kitchen to close her own blinds but she knew she had to. Shut out the light to shut out the light.
Procrastination swayed her to the bathroom, where she faced herself in the mirror. Really, who would want her? Short, too skinny to be sexy, stringy dark hair- she did not even possess a good feature to view through blinds. She tried to shake off the negativity, tried to avoid sliding into that slippery sewer.
“You have lots of good features.” She said out loud, to her reflection. She tried to smile but it looked more like a twisted grimace.
She made a deal with herself. She’d close her kitchen blinds so she could focus on herself, not because she was hideous. She was obsessing and it wasn’t healthy. She would have a hot bath; play some soothing music, light a scented candle. Strawberry. She started the tub running, added bath salts. The candles were in the kitchen cupboard over the sink. Might as well close those blinds when she went there.
She grabbed the candle from the cupboard, reached for the blind and …froze. The candle slipped from her fingers, thumped onto the table, rolled off and banged on the floor. He was standing in his window, looking out. His blinds were up. Right now, he was looking right at her. He raised his dark eyebrows and smiled, then turned away and lowered the blinds again, leaving the same peek crack.
She collapsed to the floor. She was wrong. Why was she always wrong? It was not all in her head, he was obviously obsessed with her too. She filled with warmth, laughed goofily, rolled on her back and lolled like a dog in heat. She had been so wrong. It was wrong to attack yourself, to doubt self evident truths.
She stood up, sat in a kitchen chair, eyes on the rupture in the blinds. She could see his mouth in profile. He began to speak. She had practiced enough that she didn’t need to film it now. She knew his lips, they way they said things. She said his words as he said them.
“You are adorable. I love you.”
“I love you too.” She replied to the rupture in the blinds.
But talking, loving through blinds was stupid. She’d had enough. It was time for their faces to meet. Her mouth hungered for his. They could say the same words, staring into each other’s eyes.
She did not bother with a coat or boots. The cold air stung as she went out the door. Her bare feet on the snowy walk numbed with pain. It only took a few seconds for her to skip through the white to the porch next door but she was shivering and chattering with the cold by the time she put her hand on the door knob. She did not bother knocking- they were practically lovers, after all- the door was unlocked so she just opened it and went right in.
She had not known what to expect. She’d thought his house would feel familiar and homey but it did not. It was a stranger’s house.
“Who’s there?” A male voice called from the kitchen.
So reached the kitchen doorway, and consumed him with her eyes. He was fit and trim with brown hair and brown eyes. Such a handsome face- which was now contorted with confusion- his mouth, his beautiful mouth completely unsure what to do.
“It’s me.” She purred. And then she saw the other woman. Brownish hair, a little chubby, eyes too far apart. She also looked confused. “What are you doing here?” She snarled at the other woman.
The other woman looked at the man.
“I have no idea who this person is.” The man said.
She glared at the other woman and lost it. Raged. “After all we’ve been through!” She grabbed a toaster and threw it at a wall. Threw a chair at the cupboards. “Your mouth. Saying you loved me.” She began to throw the dirty dishes stacked by the sink- plates, mugs, bowls. They crashed and smashed in the disaster that was now the kitchen. “You lied to me!” She screeched. Then the tears came, all at once, out of control, sobbing, wailing.
The other woman and the man just stood there, looking afraid.
She choked on her own tears. “We’re through.” She snarled at his mouth. “We are finished.” And she stormed out, back into the white snow and to her house next door. When she opened the door she was greeted with a flood. There was water all over the floor- she’d left the bath running. She splashed through the living room to her own kitchen and closed the blinds. In the bathroom she turned the water off, peeled away her clothes and sunk into the warm water.
Why did it always end up this way for her? She constantly attracted the wrong men, she decided. She was better off alone. She looked at the mess of the wet house. At least she’d have a bunch of cleaning up to keep her busy while she nursed her so often broken heart.