The Past is Another Country

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Write a story that involves a magic window — or a window like no other.... view prompt

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Urban Fantasy Fantasy Fiction


Sometimes it seems like it is all one big fluke. The first three books became bestsellers in a whirlwind of boundless inspiration. And with that came success and money.

His fingers hover over the keypad, then backspace, and then hover again. He slumps back on his wooden chair with a wince.


Sat there he thinks about back when he had the luxury of time, when he still had romantic notions about what being an author was. He remembers sitting in cafes on days when the world felt like it was something he didn’t want to get off from. A sweet, happy ride; time was plenty, inspiration was for granted.

He hovers once again, and thinks about his students and the lectures he gives part time at Roehampton University.

“Inspiration is bullshit”. He begins.

Some students nod, wide eyed and full of conviction (oh yes, he’s so right. Really deep). Others giggle (what a badass!)

“If you wait for inspiration to come so your pen can hit the paper, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. The time to write is right now. The crappiest things you’ve ever written keep them, do not throw them away, grow from them, and add to them. Who knows, they might be the beginnings of great stories. Everyone wants the glamorous side of writing. But they want it fast and easy. William Faulkner said “Do not be a writer. Be writing”.

A moment of silence.

 “I ask: do you want to work on your story? If you don’t, why are you here?”


There were a total of 22 windows in the house. She would have asked for more but something about the window, the one just before the steps to the attic converted into a study, stopped her. That window was more forlorn. She felt a kind of sadness every time she pressed her palm against the cold surface.

So she didn’t ask for more windows

In the afternoon, just as the sun turned golden against the calm oil-like surface of the sea, she stepped out on the stone porch in the front, and took her seat on one of the deckchairs. She closed her eyes. Free, that is how freedom felt. She was 38 years old, and for the first time in a long time, she was on her own; in her house on the sea with her windows.

She turned her head slightly to the right, and found the study window looking back. She shivered as a small chill from the sea trailed up her legs and body. Standing up, she flicked a strand of red hair from her eyes. She then flicked it again, but this time it fell like a mini curtain, obscuring the side of the window.


At 10 pm sharp he hears the knock on the window. The author gets up from his wooden chair and makes his way to the hall way. He lingers for a while in the threshold, with his one hand on the wall for support before he steps out into the dimness with the plush carpeting on the oak floors, and the window at the end of it, where the moonlight always casts its magnetism. She’s there with her red hair, and the palm of her hand touches the window.

One word comes out of her mouth. His name.

Around 10:30 she is gone, and with it the moon’s glow. He is back in his seat, but this time his fingers do not hover like weights above the keypad, they come alive with renewed vigor.

It’s her red hair. Her red hair sparked the flame.


She stepped back from the window. From somewhere distant thunder is heard, followed by a strip of lightning.

“There are cracks on your kitchen walls”. She turned around. Her mother is stood on the last step and her other hand is on the banister.

She turned back to the window.

“I like it that way. It’s vintage”

“You asked for them?”

“Yes, mother. I asked for the cracks. I like the cracks, and they are staying put”.

“As you wish”.


The sailboat glided along the crystal blue waters in front of her balcony. The wind coming from the Aegean rustled her curls, her sunflower hat by her feet. But Yvette didn’t notice. She changed position so that now she was in direct view of what captured her attention.

A figure or what she thought was a figure with one hand against the glass.

“There in that window. Do you see it?”

“See what? What am I looking at?”

“There was a figure. Of a woman or man; I can’t be sure?”

“Yvette, stop that. You have always done this. You and your ghost stories?”

“But what if it isn’t a “ghost”, Kat?” Yvette looked at Kat with wide eyes. In turn, Kat narrowed her eyes, annoyed.

“What if someone is in the house?”

Kat grabbed a towel from one of the deckchairs and wrapped it around her. There was a pool of water where she stood.

“If that is the case we should call someone, like the police?”

“Great. How’s your Greek?”

“You live in a house in Greece, and you don’t know Greek!” Kat looks at her younger sister, a part of her is surprised and another is angry.

Typical! Yvette was the sister who had the time, it seemed to Kat, and the arrogance of carelessness which her youth bestowed upon her; she never thought, she just jumped. And sometimes, most of the times, that made Kat’s body stiffen with irascibility.

It was around 3 in the afternoon when they decided to venture in the house, just as the sun swept along the stone walls of the house.

“Where did you see it?”

“Upstairs, in the window before the attic steps”

The floorboards creaked slightly as they made their way to the last landing before the attic. There, facing the front of the house is the window. It’s empty. Yvette let out her breath in one big whoosh. Kat made a scoffing noise behind her and turned to walk away.

“Windows are empty. They hold nothing. They are empty stories. You must have imagined it with the sun and heat”

“It wasn’t that hot today”. Yvette said and she felt her cheeks flush. She hated getting angry. Before following her sister downstairs, she turned to look at the window once more.

I thought you had a story for me


The author wakes up with a jolt. He’s in his wooden chair and his bones creak and moan as he straightens himself out. He looks at the screen. He leans in closer and pushes his glasses in place.

“What the…”

June 07, 2021 11:54

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1 comment

Mohamed Sarfan
17:24 Jun 17, 2021

Dear Writer, The structure of the story is unique as the past and present speak to each other. On the one hand sweet memories, on the other hand fond memories that the heart functions in life like a savings bank. Today's quest as a teacher into the moments of the past cuts through a window into man like rain in the sky or like lightning. With this story you made me travel as a traveler into a unique period. Write more Congratulations


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