Outside, even through the curtain, the world looks dark, grey and dull.
Further down, along the one way street, little eddies of wind are whirling dead leaves into somewhat tiny spirals.
Accross the street, opposite my living room window, there she is, I can feel her presence. I know she's there, even without looking into her direction. I can sense I am being watched, observed, stared…. She is so often in that kitchen window that I once imagined she were a statue, posed delicately but firmly on that spot, that very same spot, unmoved... I mean the lady peeps, watches, stares, glances… but these are only words, and as we all know, words are simply a mere indication of the real scenario, they serve as sign posts.
What I mean is, whenever she looks, it penetrates you… Strange thing is, she only manages to position herself on that window when I am moving around the house, minding my own business but clear enough to her sight.
One day I thought, I'd observe to try and find out the exact moment she comes to the window. I found out that the minute my silhouette disappears somewhere around the house, whenever I'm out of sight, so will she.
Lately, I’ve been having this weird sensation of a constant withering under her scrutiny. I wonder, «could she be an artist of some kind»; a painter, a writer, or even worse a photographer?
Observing one another has been going on for quite some time; maybe for days, weeks or even months?
One day, I decided, I had had enough of the "hide and seek" game, the game that I was probably, unconsciously entertaining. I got sick of hiding inside my own house….
I decided to take action; I made sure she was home, I went straight to her house, knocked by her door, hard enough to be heard. A few seconds went by in which seemed like one full hour when she cautiously opened the door, and there I was, facing her, live, and no longer through the glass window. Without saying a word, she gave me that stare again, one deep long look.
Hesitantly but impregnable, I collected myself, smiled at her, a smile that was followed by a brief introduction. She smiled back. To my surprise, the lady was extremely talkative and seemingly friendly. The minute she opened her mouth, it was as if someone had just opened a flood gate. On and on she chatted, she spoke about herself, her family, her passed away husband, her numerous journeys within Europe...etc. I stood there, listening to her, trying to be present the best way I thought possible. And then, suddenly and without any warning, she ceased talking, gave me a deep stare and asked «I've been wondering, how big is your place?», I answered back, and then just as if my simple answer wasn't satisfying enough, she added «it's strange, it doesn't look that big at all, from my kitchen window!!» I quickly shook hands with her, excused myself and left the scene.
The following day, early in the morning, the staring picked up. This time even deeper.
Nowadays, whenever I notice her presence on that kitchen window, I'm simply reminded that eventually, we human beings, however different we may seem from our physical form, we are all connected, and that "madness" exists in all of us. The question is « what type of madness have you got ? »
This morning, I tried to look on the brightside of things, and decided to share this story with you.
Collette is 82-years old, lives alone in this charming and modern little house opposite my place.
Story by Fina Theonest, May 2018