Chapter TwoMature

There was nothing in my apartment that anyone would want. My possessions were piled in and out of boxes and I didn't even own a real bed. I had a mattress on the floor that tripled as a couch and dining room table. I did own a laptop but I took it with me to work. I didn't own a TV, or a toaster oven, or even a decent pair of shoes. I just decided that since there was nothing for him to steal, and I was sure he figured that out if he took a good look, that I would go on about my day despite his strange appearance outside my window. It felt less like a decision to ignore it, and more like it didn't happen at all. Or like it happens all the time. And that is exactly how it ended up. Each morning while I boiled water and ladled my mug into the steaming pot, I saw him. I didn't own a tea kettle either. I didn't see why people spent money on things like that when they could function perfectly well without them. But anyway, each night when I came home from work and my apartment was dark and quiet and anyone would think that I should be scared, I wasn't. There was no one waiting for me behind the shower curtain. Nothing was ever out of place. There were never any footprints circling my apartment, or scratch marks around my doorknob. I came and went peacefully and each morning I shared a moment with a stranger whose eye brows curled up like a puppy and whose fingers were always bent across his mouth.

It went on for about a week that way. I continued to start my car ten minutes early with the keys dangling in the ignition, so it could thaw. I guess in hindsight that was a pretty stupid thing to do in west Cleveland anyway, random man or not. But I mean I just lived my life normally, with the exception of my gloomy window friend stopping by more and more often. Once while I was watching TV late at night, something caught my eye at the window. Of course it was him. I just kept on eating my popcorn until I was full and there was still half a bowl left. I hated to waste food, and I always felt bad for the little birds that hopped over the snow, and wondered what the hell they ate in this neighborhood at twelve below. So sometimes I would throw food outside for them. Or for the squirrels. So I went to the window. I had never really…confronted the man. I stayed a room's length away from him as he peered at me sadly. But that night I guess I got brave. I got up and saw his outline like the moon must have been fat and shining right behind him, casting a line of white around his face. My eyes went to the top of the window to unhook the lock, and when they returned to him there was only the snow. He had been erased by its pale hand. I put my face into the cold, that kind of cold that feels more like fire than ice, and I looked for him. The snow was covered in a layer of glass. I threw the leftover popcorn and it rolled like dice across the ground. There were no signs of his tracks. I noticed, as I pulled the window back down, that there was no moon that night.

The End

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