Contemporary Drama Fiction

            Josh couldn’t sleep. He’d not been able to sleep for some months now, he went to bed tired but as soon as his head hit the pillow he was wide awake. So, to quell the boredom of the endless night, he watched. He watched the sky, awaiting that first faint lightening before the sun came over the horizon. He watched neighbourhood cats and urban foxes follow their nocturnal quest with interest. Mainly, however, he watched the windows of the block opposite.

His bedroom, sited on the eighth floor, had a vista which allowed him a prime view of floors eight to six, plus the next two lower floors of any event close to the window. What made things even more interesting was that the majority of occupiers never drew their curtains or pulled down their blinds. He felt like he was looking through his window at their lives, spread out before him. He couldn’t hear what they said, but it was easy to read their fits of anger, indifference, sorrow, and even tenderness across the divide of the street. Not only that, but he gave them all nicknames as he didn’t know the people he watched and this allowed him to make notes, in his diary, about what he had seen.

“Tom and Jerry were arguing again. She threw his dinner at him, and it caught him on the shoulder. He stormed from the room with gravy dripping down his arm. Once he’d left, Jerry cleaned up the mess then sat down with her head in her hands and wept. I think this is the end for them.”

Mork and Mindy seem to be getting on well. He stays home, and she comes home from work to a clean flat and a meal on the table. It seems to work for them, and then they sit together on the sofa, drink wine and watch TV together. Looks like domestic bliss tonight but will report back tomorrow.”

“Dicky, Dotty and their kids (Eeny, Meeny and Mo) have a hectic life. The kids seem to have an endless round of comings and goings. It appears that Mo has taken up Judo or Karate judging by the new white uniform he is wearing all the time. I wonder how long that fad will last?”

“Lonely Old Joe is sitting in front of the TV again, he never seems to do anything else. He gets home from work at six, walks in, opens the fridge and drinks a can of something, probably beer or lager. Then he puts something in the microwave and when it’s ready, he carries it across to his chair and sits there all evening. He never gets a phone call or a visitor. Nothing new to report, except I feel sorry for him.”

Josh’s night continues like this and by the time dawn breaks he lies down on his small bed and drifts off to sleep for a couple of hours. His alarm wakes him at seven and by eight o’clock he is stacking soup on the supermarket shelf from the steel cage he pushes up and down the aisles. It is a job he likes. Doing it, he is invisible to the customers who reached over his shoulders to grab what they need without a word. He is, as always, a team of one. At exactly five p.m, he slips on his coat, swings his rucksack over his shoulder and walks home to his empty flat and single life. He drops his bag on the kitchen table and heads over to the window, looking for any sign of movement. He immediately notices a new set of curtains on the seventh floor of the opposite building. They are open and definitely new. He’d never noticed that particular window before. Perhaps it was previously unoccupied. He made a note in his diary and after scanning the rest of his subjects went to the kitchen and made himself some food. Later, after eating, he fell asleep in the chair and woke to the sound of the tv and a world of darkness; his favourite time of the day.

There is a light in the new window and Josh picks up his trusty binoculars and searched the room. Apart from the bright main light, there are no other signs of life. He watches for several minutes but his interest soon wains so he focuses on the other flats. 

“Dicky was home unusually early. Eeny and Meeny are there dressed as though they are going somewhere special. They must be waiting for Dotty. When she came home they went out as a family, which is unusual for them. Maybe it’s a school thing; parent-teacher stuff, perhaps?“ 

He always completes his log in real-time as he knows if things hot up later he wouldn’t recall the details of what he has seen. He gets a text on his ancient mobile phone, something rare for him but he knows it’s confirmation of a delivery the following morning. When he looks out again there is still no movement at the new window. He makes a note and then continues his nightly vigil. 

If it wasn’t for the expected delivery, he would sleep late as Saturday is his day off from the supermarket. It’s the one day he has to himself as they employ a couple of school kids to do his job that day. They always mess up his systems so he spends Sunday putting their chaos in order. 

He is up, showered and dressed before his delivery arrives. When it does he opens the box hungrily then carefully places each item on the table as he unwraps them. The assembly instructions are clear and precise and he follows them to the letter. Within half an hour he has before him the completed article. A telescope. Now he can’t wait for dark. Josh spends the day setting up, adjusting and readjusting his purchase until he is fully satisfied that it is in the optimal position. He tries to grab a couple of hours sleep but he is too wired for that. The clock ticks slowly towards evening and the daylight fades. 

He wakes in a panic, to find he has fallen asleep in the chair again and it’s now fully dark outside. He walks to his window and looks across, delaying the desire to see the world through his new lens. There are lots of lights on in the windows opposite and he scans them looking for something unfamiliar. He opens his diary and picks up his pen.

“My new telescope arrived today and I’m looking for the perfect event to christen it on. It might be the new resident if I can spot any movement.”

He feels like a spy as he watches the lives of others. He never puts his house light on and he only watches the TV when it’s light outside so nobody knows he exists. He makes his decision and slides onto the chair and looks through the viewfinder of his telescope. He trains it on the new window and stares through the lens. After making some fine adjustments the blur clears and the magnification is so good he lifts his head back in shock. The whole room opposite becomes so clear, he feels as though he is actually inside it. He can see the pattern of the wallpaper, the cut of the sofa fabric, the pile of the carpet and the photographs over the fireplace.

As he scans the room further he is surprised to see a woman standing at the back of the room. Her back flat against the wall, a look of amusement on her face. She appears to be staring straight at him, which he knows is impossible. In her left hand is a telephone and she is waving at him with her right. She points at him and then gestures around the room. Shocked, he looks away and then he sees what she was pointing at. He does a double-take. At every window stands an occupant and every one of them is looking at him through a telescope or a pair of binoculars. He steps away from the telescope and goes to the back of the room. Unsure what to do he walks back to the window but they are all still looking at him. He doesn’t like it. In fact, he hates it and in anger he pulls the curtains closed. When he opens them again he is still being watched. He finds it unnerving and intrusive. He puts his head in his hands and begins to sob. All the time he was watching them secretly, they knew and were watching him back. 

He throws the diary into the waste bin, dismantles the telescope and fits it back into its box, ready to return. He places his binoculars to the cupboard and sits down at the table to consider his future. 

June 09, 2021 12:53

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