Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Postcard #3: From The Splitting Pane Window

Karyn Huntting headshot by Karyn Huntting

It took time for my eyes to adjust to the fact that the only light came through the splitting pane windows from the hazy twilight, showing every dancing particle of dust in its path as it fell to the floor at my feet. His harpsichord began to take shape as it sat quietly on the green shag carpet in the darkened corner beside the 1959 Kelvinator Electric Icebox.

I used to play concerts, he breathed, stroking his greying beard with one hand while the other held a chipped mug of Foldger's. I nodded, taking a sip from the only unchipped mug. But that was so long ago. Still stroking, as if he were keeping time to some unknown metronome in his memory. I nodded again.

Raisinette? Thanks, I said, taking three from the painted purple candy dish he had gingerly placed between us on the couch. He pulled his hand from his beard, and the shock of it caused my metronome to stop. Silence, yet the dancing dust kept on as if the music had never ended.

It's getting dark out. I really must be going. So soon? I hardly ever have company, you know. Yes, I really must. But thank you for the coffee. Oh, and the Raisinettes. I was hungry.

Will you visit me again soon? One hand on the grey beard, still in anticipation. His eyes stepped into the dust dance as he rose to see me out. I saw the tiredness in the brown coffee saucers as they blinked at me.

Of course, of course. He no more believed me than he could play concert harpsichord. I slipped into his outstretched arms and held him. Trust me, I whispered in his ear. His head nuzzled my neck and I stroked his hair over and over. The metronome was such a jester.

As I walked out onto the freshly wet street below, I was haunted by the brown coffee saucers. What day was today? Oh, yes. Thursday. I looked down at my watch.

Reaching my left hand into my coat pocket, I pulled out the crumpled receipt from the electric company. Yes, Thursday. I turned and looked up at the darkened splitting pane window on the second floor. He was there, watching, hand still on his beard in the darkness.

Two silent waves. I spun around, still waving, and began to walk away, heels echoing off the pavement. Just then my shadow suddenly appeared before me, backlit by the warmth of incandescent light.

The paper fell from my fingers. Goodbye, I whispered.

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