Chapter ThreeMature

The next morning I saw the white grey billows of exhaust fumes pouring out of a piece of shit station wagon in front of my apartment. I saw the woman's eyes, and they were glossy and dull. I had seen her baby basset hound eyebrows before, on the man at my window. She just stared at the door as if she was waiting for someone to come out. I came out. She drove away.

It happened that way three times. Not all at once, but spread so far out across two weeks that I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't a déjà vu, and that yes, this had really happened before. The fourth time I decided had to be different. Something about her felt so much like the man at my window, but maybe it was just her coming and going. And her staring. And those eyebrows arching up. But her hands were not covering her mouth; they were white and exposed even in this weather, and they were gripping the steering wheel. So I could see that her lips were moving tightly against each other, and on top of each other, pulling in and out of her mouth. This fourth time she didn't drive away when I walked out onto the ice. I stood waiting for her to do it; to drive away as she always had. But she just looked ahead at the road, and then back into my face. Then I saw her hand move to the door, and the window rolled down. I walked towards her casually, not like someone who had seen her on three previous mornings, but like someone who was going to ask her if she needed directions. Or if she was alright. So I did ask her that, because I wasn't sure what else to say.

The wind stole the words and spread them out across the trees and the pavement and the kicked over silver trash cans. She said nothing. She looked like she might drive away again. She put her hands back on the wheel and looked straight ahead. But then she turned and looked past me at my apartment. I looked back then too, like maybe I was missing something. She was looking at the right side of the house, at the space between it and the neighbor's fence, which was all of four feet. It was the space where I saw my window friend each morning standing, waiting to watch me curse at my hair for making me late.

The End

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