Find pt.1 here, if you missed it! :)
The next day, I was actually a few minutes ahead of schedule as I tromped down the rickety stairs from my apartment and waved to Mr. Phelps. I wanted to have a few minutes to talk to my window fellow before the bus came, so I’d actually crawled out of bed after only hitting the snooze button once.
I cast a furtive glance to the heavens as I trekked on, praying those weren’t rain clouds I was seeing. Navigating campus was exhausting enough without having to stay dry in the midst of it all.
Halfway to the bus stop, an alarming shriek caused me to jump out of my skin—and slosh coffee all over my shirt sleeve. Ick.
Swapping my remaining coffee to the other hand, I shook the liquid from my hand and forearm. Deciding the stain wasn’t too bad, I glanced into the yard to my right.
A woman—probably 60-something—stood under the stoop outside her backdoor, broom in hand and gaze focused on a bush a few feet away.
“Something wrong, ma’am?” I felt inclined to ask, having already been inconvenienced by whatever her dilemma.
Obviously perplexed, she glanced up, seeming to see me for the first time. “Oh, thank heavens. I’m ever so grateful for the sight of another human being. A man would be better, but you’ll do.”
The way she said it, I almost felt like she was doing me a favor by letting me help her.
Still unsure as to what my purpose was here, I traipsed across the grassy lawn to the stone path that wound around from the front of the house to the back stoop—where the problem was apparently located.
It didn’t take long for the missus of the house to relay to me that there was a family of mice in that bush and that ‘divine intervention’ had planted me in her yard as a means of getting rid of them.
Having never cared for mice (or any other tiny, crawly rodent, now that we’re on the subject), I wasn’t too gung-ho about the task that was rather shoved upon me. But feeling a bit obliged—I did offer to help her—I resolved to do my best.
Unfortunately, that meant helping the lady decapitate and capture all seven of the little critters. By the time, I’d been thanked for my assistance, collected my forty-pound bag of belongings and the newsboy hat that had somehow became disconnected from my head, and resumed my walk (now at a much quicker pace), the rain had found us.
Drat! Despite my disdain, the wet weather only increased. I ended up racing all the way to the bus stop, possessing a fear of being late and a dislike for arriving saturated.
At the bus stop, I ducked into the crowded space under the rickety roof. Usually, I avoided getting this close to others, but this sideways-blowing rain was all-business.
Remembering my ritual of waving to Window Fellow, I turned and glanced up. Sure enough, he was at the window. When he caught my eye, he lifted a hand in greeting but made no moves to open the window and conduct a conversation.
I waved back and returned to the pitiful protection of the bus stop’s covering.
It looked like I would have to wait another day to learn his name.
The day following the one in which I killed mice and got caught in a downpour, I was again a few minutes early as I sprinted down the street toward where my window friend was presumably waiting.
When I reached the street corner, no one was waiting at the bus stop yet—which clarified my earliness. He probably wasn’t even expecting me yet.
“Good morning, Annalyse.”
Or...maybe he was. I turned and smiled up at the guy, dangling halfway out the window with shirtsleeves rolled up his forearms.
“Good morning, Nameless.”
“Ahh, getting cocky, are we?” He wiggled his eyebrows, seeming to enjoy this as much as I was.
“Perhaps.” I crossed my arms and pinned him with a glare. “When do you plan on telling me your name?”
“Hmm…” Elbows propped on the windowsill, he tapped his chin with a long finger. “Possibly never.”
“What?!” I sputtered. “But you said—”
“I said I would tell you if you came yesterday.”
“I did come yesterday!” I squinted over at him as the morning sun broke over the building across from me and invaded my eyes. “And I would have been here before the rain if a grandmother hadn’t recruited me as a critter-catcher.”
“Intriguing tale, madam, but I’m not buying. You’re running late more mornings than not.”
Rude. I switched on a scowl, hoping he could see it at this distance. “As if it’s any of your business.”
“Never said it was.” He grinned, still hanging out the window. Honestly, it’s impossible to stay mad at this guy for more than 8.973 seconds.
The notorious drompa-drompa-drom of the bus can be heard as it crests the hill just south of the grocer’s. It’ll be here in less than a minute, true to my previous calculations.
You know, the calculations I made in the days before I spent my time at the station chatting with a handsome window guy.
Not that I’m saying he’s handsome.
(His smile isn’t bad, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
And so our relationship continued. We chatted every other weekday morning, at least. Daily, at best—sometimes in the evenings too.
Window Fellow insisted that, since it was raining the day that he was supposed to reveal his name to me, fate didn’t want it to happen. (I’m pretty sure he made that up, like I made up the line about patterns being broken.)
But he was never anywhere other than that window, and I never had too much time to spend standing on the street corner and carrying on an often-near-shouting conversation.
Until one day, smackdab in the middle of semester finals.
My last class of the day had been canceled, so I was walking home earlier than usual. Instead of taking the bus, I decided to walk the extra two miles and enjoy the spring sunshine.
As I neared the corner where Window Fellow lived, I wondered if he would be there. Not likely. Typically, if I saw him during my evening commute, it was on a day when I’d stayed out later than normal.
I reached the corner, stopped at the crosswalk, and pressed the button. While I waited for a walk signal, my gaze wandered to a van that had just pulled into the short drive at Window Fellow’s house.
The back door opened, a ramp unfolded, and a young guy in a wheelchair emerged. I could hear him talking to the driver, but at the distance and with the traffic, I couldn’t make out their words.
As he turned to wheel around the van and approach the house, he swiveled— jarring to a stop when his gaze snagged upon me.
I stared back, mouth agape, just as shocked as he was. So that was why I’d never saw him around…
It was my window fellow. Seated in the wheelchair, hands paused in midair, face blank and expressionless—so odd for the smirking, joking personality I’d become friends with.
Without a word, he turned away and wheeled toward the house. I wanted to say something, wanted to tell him that I hoped this surprise meeting would have no bearing on our newly-formed friendship. But not even knowing his name, I would feel awkward calling him back.
So I kept my mouth shut, crossed the street, and continued on my way.
But the heaviness in my heart as I recalled Window Fellow’s expression when he saw me was difficult to ignore.