Love, Behind the Window

Submitted into Contest #10 in response to: Write a story about someone who is unexpectedly wise.... view prompt

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The crunches of the leaves in the way of her footsteps dimly echoed in the solitude of the park on a particularly chilly sunrise. With her barely-but-warm-enough hands in her pockets, she took a break from her angry strut and sat herself down on the park bench that was in front of her.

Her head rung with words and phrases sharper and slightly more brutal than an untraceable paper cut. The argument had done enough damage. It was time for her to take several deep breaths and let the icy air cool her down. Staring at the ground before her damp eyes, she traced the shadow of a tree. The leaves’ shadows slow-danced with the breeze whilst the branches’ shadows only quivered.

She spun her head around to figure out what the sudden abnormality in the tree’s shadow was. The sun stared into her eyes as she struggled to grasp the oddly shaped leaf. The texture sure didn’t feel like a leaf. Turning back around, she re-sat herself on the bench as her eyes adjusted from briefly being tasered by the sun. She looked down towards her lap where her hands lay cradling a piece of paper folded into a square.


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Dear Stranger,

Hello. How is your day going? Every day I check this spot to see if someone replied. Now that you’re reading this, I hope you decide not to throw this letter away and instead you decide to reply. If not, please put this letter in the spot you found it. I hope you have a nice day either way.

Love,

Behind the window

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Refreshingly surprised, she took the letter and walked back one and a half miles to the apartment.

Sitting at the dining table meant only for two, she started writing her response.


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Dear Behind the window,

I was pleasantly surprised when I found this letter. Now my day is going so much better. What about your day?

She paused. What should she write next? How old was Behind the window? The handwriting looked childish. How much should she say?

Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself? I hope you have a nice day too.

Love,

Stranger

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Should she idly sit in the park and watch for Behind the window? 'No. Surprises are nice’ she thought to herself. Weighing the pros and cons, she decided to jog three miles today.

After putting on appropriate attire, she jogged one and a half miles to the park, put her letter in the spot of the original note, and jogged one and a half miles back to her apartment.

It was early on in the day on a Saturday. She cleaned the apartment whilst her boyfriend was out doing Satan knows what.

Later on at night, her boyfriend stumbled into the apartment with muddy shoes. She ran to his aid with a bottle of water in hand. 

“I’m fine,” he stuttered in an irritated tone, and smacked the open water bottle away from his face, out of her hand, and onto the floor.

Frustration from this morning’s argument flushed her system as she gave up on him and turned in for the night.

The next day at what should have been some time between lunch and dinner, her boyfriend and she sat down and started eating. He ate to satisfy the monster of a hangover that hovered over his head. She, on the other hand, ate so she could spend some time with him.

“I was thinking of going out for a run later this evening,” she ventured. “You should join m—”

“And you should shut up,” he interrupted.

“But it’s a nice—” she continued.

“But shut the fuck up,” he commanded. For a while, all that filled the air was the clattering of their forks and knives against their near-empty plates. “Babe,” he apologetically called for her. She shot her head up and he continued. “I’ve been super stressed at work. You know the guys. You know how demanding they are,” he paused. “Where would you like to go for a run?”

Elated, she told him about the park whilst they finished up eating. After leaving the dishes to soak, she told him about the letter as they both changed into workout clothes. “Sounds stupid,” he retorted. She turned around to look at the door so she could hide her irritation masked by disappointment.

They ran in silence side by side. Before they could even enter the park, he received a phone call. 

“Hey, babe. I need to go. This guy from work just called.”

She more stated than asked, “On a weekend?”

“Do you think I’m lying?”

“No,” she answered absolutely irked.

“You can make your way back, right?”

“You’re not coming back?”

“Nah. The guys are a block away.” ‘The guys’ she pointed out to herself. She thought this was work-related. 

“No problem. I’ll just jog home alone after dark,” she stated. 

Not getting the hint, he lightly pulled on her cheek with his index and middle fingers bent and jogged away saying, “That’s my girl.”

She reprimanded herself because she should have known better. She checked the spot but nothing was there. Double disappointment.

The next day she sketched until her arms went numb. Late-afternoon-come, she went on her three-mile jog again. She threw a notebook and a couple of pens into a minuscule backpack before she left the apartment.


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Dear Stranger,

My mother said I should not be talking to strangers. But she let me do this because I don’t have friends at school anymore. Why did your day get much better? Did it start out bad?

I’m afraid of heights and spiders. Now it’s your turn to tell me a secret.

Love,

Behind the window

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She smiled and then allowed her pen to lick a paper in her notebook.


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Dear Behind the window,

Your mother is absolutely right. I’m a twenty-one-year-old woman. I’m in college, well…kind of. How old are you?

And you are extremely perceptive. My day wasn’t going too well but I sorted that out.

Ooo…this is hard. What secret should I let out of my box? I’m scared of spiders too. And bugs. Well, not really scared. I just don’t like bugs. But I WILL scream if I see a spider. Now it’s your turn to tell me another secret.

Love,

Stranger

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She jogged back home and returned to the park at the same time the next day.


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Dear Stranger,

Well I guess I can tell you I’m a 9 (nearly 10) year old man. Most people are boys at this age but mother says I’m not like other boys. She says I am brave. She says that is what makes me a man.

Mother also thinks I’m perceptive. I’m glad you fixed your day. Why was it a bad day?

And that doesn’t count. You’re a grownup. You have to tell me a grownup secret.

Also, bring the corners of this note to the middle and fold it so it is still a square. My drawing isn’t that great but I did that on purpose. I was scared that if I drew too well, you would scream and I didn’t want you to scream.

She chuckled to herself.

I should probably explain why I drew a spider. Mother says the best way to get over your fears is to face them head on. I’m only 9. But you are old and I don’t want you to be scared of anything. You should look at this every day. Then later on, I can draw a better one and you can practice by looking at that one. I hope my drawing didn’t scare you.

Love,

Behind the window

PS: How are you kind of in college?

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A warm glow embraced her heart.


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Dear Behind the window,

Your mother sounds like a very smart woman. I completely agree with her. A man is not judged by how big he is, but by how big his heart is. And to be brave, you need a big heart.

A grownup secret, huh? You know how you asked about what I meant when I said I was kind of in college? I guess my answer to that can be my grownup secret. Sometimes grownups can become very sad. I became too sad and had to take some time off college so I could take care of myself.

That is very thoughtful of you. I promise I will look at the picture every day until you send me another one that would scare me right now.

She kept her promise.

Your mother is right when she says you are brave. You have a big heart and a big brain too. How was school today?

Love,

Stranger

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Dear Stranger, 

You are right. My mother is the smartest woman I know. Not that I know many.

And I am sorry that you are sad. If you fold the corners again, you can see a drawing of a smile. Mother says smiles are contagious. Hopefully looking at this smile will make you smile.

It did.

And I am happy to know that you are facing your fears head on.

Thank you for saying I have a big heart and a big brain. Mother says I also have a big mouth, which is very bad because of my big brain.

I don’t go to school. My mother teaches me at home. The children at school are too mean to me. What do you do all day if you are also not going to school?

Love,

Behind the window

PS: You never answered why your day was bad.

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Dear Behind the window,

I’m sorry it took me a while to reply. I had to take care of my boyfriend.

Thank you for the drawing. You are an amazing artist. I now truly know what you meant when you said that you intentionally didn’t try your hardest. Judging by this drawing, I would have shrieked and run away screaming if you drew a spider that well. By the way, the smile made me smile.

And she genuinely meant that.

I’m sorry to hear that the kids in your school were being mean to you. Kids can be mean. But you’re a man so you know better and I am sure your mother is proud of you for that.

As for me, I cook, clean the apartment, sing, write my own songs, write poems and stories, design clothes, draw, whatever I fancy doing. What do you do when you’re not having classes?

Love,

Stranger

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Dear Stranger,

I am glad you replied. I started to think that you were getting bored of me. I hope your boyfriend feels better.

And I always have classes. My mother says that everyone is constantly learning.

You draw too? You should draw something for me. You should also send me one of your poems, or stories, or all of them!

Love,

Behind the window

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These letters went back and forth for a couple of months.


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Dear Stranger,

You always reply late because you are taking care of your boyfriend. This makes me mad. I remember at the beginning that you said you took time off college so you can take care of yourself. Not that it’s any of my business, but shouldn’t he be taking care of you? Actually, it is my business. You are my best friend.

Now that I am done being mad at your boyfriend, I have some good news to tell you. That girl I was talking about that I saw at the park? She is 10 as well. Her name is Katie. We talked and she is really nice.

Love,

Behind the window

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Dear Behind the window,

I appreciate your concern but the situation with my boyfriend is a tad bit complicated. It’s not like I can pack my things, leave, and go to my parents' place. And you are my best friend too.

Tell me more about Katie!

Love,

Stranger

PS: I think I am ready for another spider drawing.

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Dear Stranger,

Why can’t you do that? My mother says that you are your greatest enemy. She also says she loves me unconditionally. You are a nice person. I am sure your mother is a nice person and loves you unconditionally too.

And Katie? She has ginger hair. She is taller than me (which I am not too happy about). I think she has brown eyes. But I don’t know her well enough so I cannot say she is prettier than you.

Love,

Behind the window

(aka your best friend)

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The first paragraph was exactly the push she needed. She had been thinking for a while about moving out but wasn’t too sure where she would even go.

“Why are the suitcases packed up? Are we going on a holiday somewhere? You should have consulted me. I’m on a tight schedule,” he rambled on confused.

“No.”

“Then?”

“These are MY suitcases filled with MY things. I am only going to say this once so make sure your filthy ears are devoid of any wax. I am not coming back, you hear me? Thank you for showing me what I don’t want in a relationship, in my life.” She turned to leave but couldn’t move. 

“But, babe.” 

After shrugging his hand off her arm, she threatened, “If you don't let go, I kid you not, I WILL call 911.” Leaving him speechless, she took the elevator down, and her parents helped carry her luggage and load the car.


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Dear Behind the window (aka my best friend),

You are never going to believe what happened. I am sorry for replying late but it is because of my boyfriend. Before you get angry, let me tell you that I moved out of there and moved into my parents' house—for now anyway.

The only problem is that I need to find another way to stay healthy. Before I used to run three miles pretty much every day (one and a half to the park and one and a half back). My parents’ house is closer to the park though.

I want to take out time to thank you. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the courage to walk out and leave. But you helped me realise that I need to face my fears head-on. Speaking of, where is that spider drawing of mine?

And what do you mean by you cannot tell if Katie is prettier than I am? Have you seen me?!

Love,

Stranger

(aka your best friend)

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Dear Stranger (aka my best friend),

I was getting really worried when you hadn’t replied in almost a week. As your best friend, I declare that I am the happiest person there is about you leaving your boyfriend who you always had to take care of.

I am glad you are asking about the spider drawings now instead of me randomly giving them to you. I drew another one. You know what to do with the paper.

And no, I have not seen you. My mother says that not all pretty people have pretty souls but all pretty souls are pretty people. You have one of the prettiest souls so you must be very very very pretty.

Love,

Behind the window

(aka your best friend)

PS: I love writing the words “best friend”. You are my first best friend and my last one too. You are my only best friend.

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Dear Behind the window (aka my best friend),

I just want to thank you for being you. I want to thank you for being my first, last, and only best friend too. You will always be my best friend. I promise. Pinky promise.

Love,

Stranger

(aka your best friend)

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The blaring ringing woke everyone in the neighbourhood up. She wasn’t too sure what it was but soon realised it was an ambulance after shaking off her slumber.

Panicking, she ran downstairs thinking it was either her mother or father. 

“What’s happening?” she asked her mother after she bumped into her in the kitchen. 

“That poor lady. Her husband had died and her child is terminally ill with some sort of cancer.” Silence. “I think that’s her son they’re carrying out on the stretcher,” her mother pointed out. They both tried to catch a glimpse but couldn’t see anything save for the ambulance parked in front of the house diagonally across on the left of theirs. “Go sleep,” reassured her mother.

Two days later, she jogged to pick up the expected letter. Right next to the bench was a rather large rolled up piece of paper. She opened it and admired the beautiful intricacy with which Behind the window had drawn the spider. This time, however, it was multicoloured. The blue and green blended so well with hints of red providing a nice contrast.



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Dear Stranger,

I am Behind the window’s mother and I want to thank you for being a part of my son’s life. Not only did you play a big role in it, but you also brightened his last few months.

‘His last few months?’

You helped him overcome his fear of spiders by going through the process yourself with him. I found this drawing of his in his room and I'm assuming it's meant for you.

Thank you for being my son’s best friend. And thank you for seeing the beauty there was in his soul.

My son was sick with brain cancer and he passed away two nights ago. You helped give him something to look forward to every passing day.

Her heart sank.

He would not leave the house after his hair fell off. I remember pushing him to put the first note in the tree. Ever since you replied, he would be the one pushing me out of the house to place his reply at the spot.

That promise you made in your last letter meant the world to him.

Thank you.

Love,

Behind the window’s mother

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She never broke her promise.

October 11, 2019 23:56

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