Tuesday, January 26, 2010

[Short Story] Windows

"I think I'm disappearing," he said.

Agatha looked up from the linguine on her plate. Around them the restaurant was the usual clink and clatter of dinnerware. In the distance a roving violinist played a song Agatha couldn't quite recall. One of the old standards crooners used to sing. It was lovely and melancholy. The way love should be.

The small table they sat at was beside a window that looked 10 stories down upon the city. He had brought her to the same restaurant 7 years ago when they'd just started dating. He had proposed to her two tables from where they sat at that moment. Every year they came back on her birthday. It was tradition.

He was sweating hard and looked like he might pass out. Threads of dark brown hair frayed wildly from the damp clumps that hung over his grey eyes.

"Hush, Tom, you're just having a panic attack," Agatha assured him.

Tom stared out the window but didn't see the city. He was focused on his reflection. It seemed to hang out in space, just outside the plane of glass. Agatha's eyes followed his to the window.

"I wish it were so my dear, but I can see it for myself."

"Oh Tom, " Agatha spoke, the sound of pleading faintly coloring her words, "it's just a trick of light. It only looks like you're vanishing. Look at my reflection, it's doing the same thing."

Tom looked at his wife's reflection. Around them the din had a momentary lull as the people, almost with a hive mentality, put down cutlery and stemware and began whispered conversations. Tom brushed his blonde hair back and Agatha saw his eyes swollen red and streaming.

"I'm so sorry Agie. I thought for sure you were real."

A large lump grew in her throat. She took a sip of wine trying to force it back. How many shrinks had he seen? None of them had been worth the thousands of dollars they'd shelled out. This past year he'd just deteriorated so much faster than before.

She placed a hand on each cheek and turned him to face her.

"Sweetheart, look at me. I'm real, you're real. This disappearing business is all in your head."

He looked into his wife's eyes. "The coldest blue," he'd once called them.

"We haven't much time now." Tom spoke to her, but he was looking at his leg. Looking through his leg. He saw the carpeting. Shag. Blue. He looked at her across the dining room table of their apartment. She was thirty years younger and a stranger.

"Did you take those pills I gave you?" she asked him. Her voice was deep yet feminine. Long red hair flowed around her shoulders. She was dressed in a light cotton print dress. Conservative and flowing.

"The pills?" He pondered aloud, trying to remember. Suddenly it came to him. "The pills, uh, yeah Gloria, I did. I left you one in case you wanted it later."

She offered him a sly smile. "Not a bad idea. The Gregson's parties are always a little easier to tolerate with the lights turned on."

Tom glanced at their clock. It was in the shape of an English cottage. Once it had fallen on him while he tried to hang it. It had almost taken one of his eyes that day. At the moment it ticked away merrily. There were no hour hand and no minute hand on the clock. Just a second hand that solemnly followed the circle around.

Margret noticed where his attention was.

"Oh don't worry," she said, "we've got plenty of time."

She rose slowly, the dress smoothing out against the curves of her body. As she walked towards him, she let her fingers trace along the table top. Tom took her in. He sat unmoving, having trouble swallowing. She stood behind him. Her hands slid over his shoulders and around his arms. His breathing became shallow in anticipation.

She took him by the arm and pulled him towards her. She smelled of babies breath and lavender. Teasing kiss and she turned, pulling him to the stairs. Each step up was punctuated by a frame on the wall. They were filled with pictures of her and a strange man. Not strange. Tom looked closer and saw his reflection. Young, blonde hair, healthy frame. He was the man in the pictures.

Into their bedroom they tumbled. She slid up against him. Tom's eyes ran over her hungrily as she slowly unbuttoned his shirt. Hands ran over his smooth, muscular chest. He drew her in closer. Their lips brushed. Tom closed his eyelids but saw right through them.

"I- I Think I'm disappearing," he said.

"I know exactly how you feel," she answered.

Tom looked at the night sky. His daughter stood by pointing at stars.

"What's that one daddy?" she asked.

He glanced down at the little girl. She was 6 and overly curious. On the other side of her was his ex wife. Lana was beautiful, even after 3 kids and a painful divorce.

"That's the great hunter, honey," he answered.

The tiny, blonde bundle mouthed an 'oh' and ran into the field. Lana shuffled over slowly. She'd been dreading this moment. When they'd have to actually talk.

"How have you been, Tim? she inquired.

He heard it in her voice. The sharp, cold tone that told him she wanted nothing more than to get away. He searched the heavens, looking for an answer. Instead he gave up and spoke his mind.

"To be honest, Hannah, I've been better."

Sarah groaned inside. For a moment she thought of calling their 6 year old son back, just to have a barrier. In the end she decided against it.

Bracing herself, "oh, what's wrong?"

"Everything is beginning to unravel now," he told his wife.

She sat across from him in the restaurant. Agatha's birthday. Tradition. A river was rushing down her face, making tracks through her makeup.

"Maybe we should just head home, alright? I can take care of you there. I don't need to be here. I just need you."

Tom smiled. he picked up a napkin that was unused and wiped her cheeks clean.

"Maybe we can go together," he spoke softly.

"Of course," his wife sniffed.

He smiled again at where her head should be. She was gone. No more tears now, just a feeling of complete emptiness. Tom looked around him. Half the people had vanished. The rest took no notice whatsoever. They just continued to talk loudly and eat. As he watched occasionally a person would blink out of view. He checked himself over and found he was missing an arm. He wanted to scream out to the people around him, warn them that they were all disappearing, but found he had no voice. He knew even before looking at his reflection in the window that his throat was gone.

Outside was even worse. Chunks of buildings were gone. People were walking around in the streets missing appendages. At one point he saw four tires perfectly spaced apart, driving down the road with nothing attached to them. Tom looked back at the table he was seated at. Except for a tiny coaster sized piece that held his glass of wine, the table had vanished. He picked up the glass and took a sip. There was no taste. Much like the world around him, it was missing something.

Overhead the sound of popping startled him. Tom looked up to see the seams of the building splitting open. A couple of stitches and the restaurant tore away like cloth. People around him suddenly found themselves being sucked up into the clouds above. Tables and chairs, cars, trees; whole buildings, all drawn to the sky. Tom alone stood out on the street, not moving.

As he watched an RV climbing to the sky, the heavens like a patchwork quilt, began to unravel. Behind it, the inside of an eye looking out. Tom stared through it in fascination. The psychiatrists had said it was all in his mind. Just his agination playing tricks on him.

The vision of the world beyond was blurred by a watery cloud.

Just my agination, he thought.

In a blink Tom was gone.


  1. AWESOME! I couldn't stop reading!!

    Twists and turns with a "who's who?!" LOVED IT TS!! Thanks!



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