So, there’s this girl.
Before you get any ideas, I don’t like her, or anything like that. She isn’t particularly pretty, or clever, or witty, or anything, really. She’s just a little peculiar, odd, and in this world, it’s sometimes hard to find anyone really strange these days. She lives next door to me, and I see her often. Sometimes, I see her through her bedroom window—not that I’m trying to be a creep or anything, you know, sometimes I just happen to glance out my window, and see that hers is all lit-up, with the curtains parted, and I sometimes just catch a glimpse of her, sitting at her desk or walking around her room.
What’s so strange about her? Well, get this: all the time, every single day, whenever I pass by her or see her leave the house, she carries this shoulder bag bulging with library books. I know they are library books because once I passed by her when she dropped the bag, its entire contents spilling out onto the pavement, and I saw they were all library books. And get this—they were all fiction books, ranging from children books to teen fiction, and she is practically an adult woman. An adult woman, reading fairytales! Reading little kiddy books, picture books. Who does that? I get the feeling she’s got her head stuck up in the clouds. And does she even have a job? With that misty look in her eyes all the time, it’s a wonder employees would consider hiring someone who is evidently so scatterbrained and immature.
One other time, I caught her having a conversation with herself, or perhaps someone in her imagination, on her porchsteps. I think she was pretending she had a boyfriend, with the way she coyly smiled at some invisible man, and clasped her hands as if she were in love. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the way she—oh, just everything about her is laughable! Frankly, I do believe she might be a little mentally deranged, or at least quite the private actress. The more I spy on her, the more I feel as though I’ve stumbled across some rare, eccentric human specimen, someone untouched by the reality of the world. Someone who never grew up, when everyone else did.
And, no offense, but I get the feeling that she’s really, really lonely. I’m good at picking up people’s weaknesses, if I do say so myself, and she seems like one of those lonely adults who never grow up, buried in books, cats and her own eccentricity. She’s literally a crazy cat woman in the making. Does she even have any friends? And what is with that look in her eyes all the time? That sad, lonely and lost look, that seems both faraway and intent at the same time, as if she lost something very dear to her long ago and has been searching for it ever since, her hope slowly ebbing away over the years. Oh, what am I saying; listen to me getting all poetic over some lonely young woman’s misery. But—it’s the way she looks at things sometimes that gets me. The clouds. Flowers. Out windows, at the stars at night. As if she is searching for a home, someplace safe to rest her soul, in whatever she looks at, and always finding herself disappointed.
She looked at me the other day, while I was coming home from work. Right over the fence separating our residences, straight in my eyes. For some reason, it was a shock, staring straight into that soft, faraway gaze after seeing it directed other things for so long. She was picking flowers in her garden, had a whole bunch of dandelions in her left hand—a grown woman, picking flowers like a five-year old!—and the moment she saw me, she blinked, turned red, looked away, and a moment later, scurried back inside her house, the door squeaking shut behind her. She’s a strange one, I tell you. That night, her curtains were closed, but I could sense her behind the curtains, at her desk, reading her childish books or doing whatever she does, thinking her strange thoughts. Maybe thinking about me.
That’s it. I’m going to stop spying on her, because this is the last straw. Yesterday, sick from work, I spent the day reading some books I’d loved as a kid, Zac Power and Geronimo Stilton, and in the afternoon, when I was feeling a little better, I went out into the front garden and just sat in this sunshine, stroking my cat. I hadn’t done anything like that in years. Weird. I swear that weird girl who happens to be my neighbour is having some kind of slow, insidious effect on me. I certainly hope it isn’t permanent. An independent, grown man like me has no need for eccentric women like her in my life. Besides, I have a date with Natasha next week, and need to spend my time properly preparing for that, instead of sitting at my desk staring out my window at her bedroom window, wondering if those curtains will ever open again.
Natasha came round to my house after the date. We frolicked a bit on the sofa. Nothing serious—just a little flirtation, a little kissing. For some reason, I wasn’t that into it—and I became even less into it when I saw her through the window while I was entangled with Natasha, standing in her garden, staring straight at me. The look in her eyes—but why should I feel guilty? It isn’t as if she and I are in a relationship, or anything. She’s just my neighbour. This time, when our eyes met, she started as if I’d stuck her with a jolt of electricity, and turned and walked away, this time without haste or hurry, with slow, measured, and, dare I say it, regal steps. Suddenly, I felt like being alone. Disgruntled, Natasha left, her hair and lipstick a little mussed, the smell of her perfume lingering all over my clothing. Now I’m sitting at my desk, looking out the window. Her curtains are not closed this time, but she isn’t sitting at her desk, or walking around her room. She’s lying on her bed, her face turned away out of sight.
I mean, it’s not as if I’m interested in her or anything. But she certainly is an oddity, and I’ve always been a curious person. That’s why I’m going to introduce myself this afternoon. We are neighbours, after all, and it is about time. I want to ask her what she’s been reading, and what the name of her cat is. I wonder what her bedroom looks like, when you’re standing inside it. I wonder what she likes to drink—surely not coffee? No, coffee wouldn’t suit her. For all I know, she likes to drink from juice boxes with a straw and snack on lollies. Who’s her favourite singer? You know, just ordinary questions, for an ordinary girl.
I wonder what her imaginary boyfriend looks like.