The little boy put his hand on the second-story window, palm flat and fingers spread apart.
“No Baby, don’t!” his mother cried, shuffling over to him, scooping him up from behind, his legs swinging as she lifted him. She had the seat of his pants (or overalls, actually) in one hand and steadied him with the other.
His hand had left behind the ideal of handprints, the most iconic of handprint images in secondhand pineapple juice residue. Smack-dab in the middle of that 28 Hanover Lane second-story window.
It was not the kind of window that maintained a superior level of cleanliness anyway. It was kept in a consistent state of partial emmaculence, and besides, the owner had three toddlers. And a cat. Ten minutes after the woman had cleaned the window later that week, a blue jay flew by the window and the cat, instinctually, perked up and put its nose against the pane.
Behind the somewhat thin pane of glass was a mesh screen, which had a few tears in the soft grid where cat claws had snagged–presumably, anyway, although it was pretty incriminating that the cat was leaping off the window sill just as the owner was walking into her child’s room and witnessed the tears for the first time. They weren’t gaping, but asserted a clear disturbance in the pattern.
Dust was settled along the ledges of the window and a few ladybug corpses laid along the edges of the sill.
It was the house’s original window, had not been replaced yet, like a few of the others in the house that had–one had been cracked by a thrown pebble and the others simply provided too poor insulation in the living room. This window would probably be replaced soon, too.
It’s tempting, at this point, after learning about the window, to begin to personify it. The second-story window of 28 Hanover Lane, the one facing east, on the left side, is, after all, the protagonist of our story. Or rather, because it is just a window, this is a story about that window.
There were bees swarming about when the teenage girl slammed the window shut and glared at the hive she could see just the side of, because her face was pressed up against the window but it still wasn’t a good enough angle to see the hive outside, nested beneath the overhang of the roof. She gave up, flicked the black curtains down, turned on her record player. So long as they weren’t able to get into her room, she would not get stung or swell up in a horrible puffy redness, only to be deflated by immediate medical attention. The Ramones rocked on.
Windows serve a purely aesthetic purpose. These days, that is. While before, they may have been critical for lighting and ventilation, they have lost their necessity in the home.
Before we were who we are today, we were cave dwellers. We explored the deepest trenches of caves, seeking what lie in the core of these lightless tunnels. When we began constructing our own dwellings, rather than accept what the earth already provided, we built them to mimic the darkness, the confined nature of caves. As we evolved and enlightened, so did the characteristics of our shelter. Rather than shut ourselves away from the sun, we cut holes in our buildings and spent more time inside.
The window, please recall, pondered none of this. The window of 28 Hanover Lane, which was also not allergic to bees–or anything–was just a window, an object, a tool of human creation. And human ego wants to place the image of itself onto all objects and creatures around us.
It looked as though the window had opened its mouth but could not fit the entire bite. That is how the air conditioning unit came to be, halfway inside the couple’s room, halfway outside (or, more accurately, 80-outside, 20-inside), the window shut upon it tightly, keeping the white, humming box suspended over the front yard. The window had finally been replaced with a new model about a year ago, one ensured to keep air from escaping one way or the other–hot or cold. Ironically, considering what windows do.
The window screen–also new, but stained with dried rain marks and debris from the previous winter–was propped beside the window, against the wall, as the man stood back with his hands on his hips, admiring his installation. The A/C unit blew cold air onto his feet as sweat condensated around his temple and armpits.
The screen had not been leaning against the wall originally–a half-hour ago, it lay in the front yard, as the man had lost balance while the window was open, and accidentally, fell slightly towards the window; he had put his hand out to catch himself, but the hand pressed against the screen, popping it out, and thus the momentum and failure to break his fall resulted in him smacking his chin on the bottom part of the open window as his hand continued to fall beneath him.
After a red lump and a round-trip to the front yard (where the rectangular screen lay flat on the bright green grass, peacefully, as though making a summertime snow angel on pressed grass), the man had successfully saved his and his wife’s room from the sauna of summer–only three more windows in the house to go. Maybe he would call it a day for now.
Perhaps the window was the first screen. The first device we used to remove ourselves from the world, inserting a divide between us and the outside, while still maintaining our involvement–still able to be entertained, included, thought at a distance. Later it would be the television. Moving on, the smart phone. As we evolved, began to simulate the outside world indoors. Now we work from home. Have VR. We still love our corners, our cozy, cave-like nooks, now they’re just within our houses. Our micro-worlds. The window delivers sun.
The old woman hoisted the window open, visibly straining herself to do so, and took a deep breath of the flowery springtime air. She took a step to the side and sat down on the foot of her bed, gazing out the window. She watched a woman she knew pull into her neighbor’s driveway across the street and discreetly meet a man at the side door and enter. Translucence. It leads to knowledge.
The vibrant evening sun filtered into the room indirectly, dimly, from the other side of the house. White, lace curtains hung gently on either side of the window. The woman didn’t leave the room much, and often sat on the edge of her bed, sitting beside that window. She considered it like a friend.