The Window

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A window is a window, until you open it.

Submitted: October 02, 2019

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Submitted: October 02, 2019

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The window was never open. 

At least it never was when he came. It was taller than he was, and if he stretched his arms out like a bird, he could just touch the sides. It overlooked the street below, quietly keeping watch with its solemn glass face. He’d look up, often without meaning to, on his way out or in, and it would stare back, the way someone taller stares down their nose at you. 

It looked out of place, even on a house very much out of place. He didn't know how old it was exactly, Krispen always said a few decades without any real commitment, but he could tell just by looking at it that it was ancient, at least one hundred years old. Maybe more. It stood proud on the corner of the street, an elegant monument of varnished wood and sharp angles-dark and severe. It always made him think of a mortician, evoking within him a cold reverence he associated with death and the elderly. 

The window faced west, high and solitary, positioned almost exactly in the middle of the house. When the sun set, the fading light reflected in such a way it seemed to catch fire, burn, trapping hungry flames between its oblong panes. The glare would draw his eye as he started home, and for just a moment he could see himself in the window, in the red and orange, the flames surrounding him from all sides, swallowing him.
 
He remembers the day he tried to open it. 

 

 

 

 

“Mom said she tried to open it once, but it wouldn't budge.” Tom frowned.

“At all?” Krispen shrugged, tearing his peanut butter and banana sandwich into little pieces.

“That's what she said.” Tom stared down at the last few drops of milk in his cup, collected at the bottom in a white crescent moon, and opened his mouth before he could think to not.

“I bet I could get it open.” He said it with all his twelve year old bravado. Krispen made a face, unconvinced. 

“Not with those noodles, Grearson.” 

“You've never been able to.”

“So. Why do you even with want to.” 

“Just to say I did. C’mon Kris.”

Krispen considered it for a moment, and Tom could feel his stomach start to turn in circles, the pieces of his own sandwich little paper boats on an acid lake. Sweat had gathered between his fingers, and he was suddenly anxious. Krispen pushed his plate away, sighing loud and dramatic like he always did.

“Fine! But only because my mom's gone.”

Tom had to resist the urge to take the stairs two at a time. Yet he found himself hesitating on the last step, it creaked in protest under his foot, as Krispen opened the door. The other boy said something teasing over his shoulder, but Tom wasn't listening anymore.

He could feel it before he could see it, like the drop in the air seconds before a downpour of rain-he stepped into the room and turned, and it was waiting for him. 

The light from outside stretched across the floorboards towards him, inviting him to come closer. But Tom found its beckoning stare taunting, daring him to venture, knowing exactly what it was that he wanted to do, and it was eager for him to try. Something cold slipped down his back, he swatted at it and whirled around, thinking Krispen had put an ice cube down his shirt-which was one of his favorite things to do to Tom-but Krispen was on the other side of the room inspecting an old dart board. He rubbed at the back of his neck to hide his mistake and swallowed thickly.

The pumping of his heart picked up speed, he took a hand full of half steps towards the window.

It didn't look too hard. 

Old and unused, but with just the right amount of leverage, some elbow grease, and he was sure he could do it. His legs moved without his permission, some invisible force tugging him forward until he stood in the rectangles of light-he looked through the window but could only see his reflection-his eyes looked darker, the room behind him nothing but smudges of browns and blacks and red-

“Well what are you waiting for.” Krispen clapped him on the shoulder and he jumped. He gave him a smug smile, and Tom shrugged off his hand with lips pressed thin and determined. 

“Nothing. Give me room.” Krispen gave a mock salute and went back to the dart board. 

Tom inspected the lock latch, the dusty sill, the wood grain beneath the chipped and peeling paint, deciding where he'd position his hands-when he saw it. He tilted his head just so against the glare, and something at the bottom of the pane, close to the frame, drew his attention. He ran his fingers over it, felt the raised textured among the smooth and leaned down to get a better look. His throat was suddenly dry, his heart beating irregularly and frantic in his chest. Someone had scratched something in the glass-words, in neat, thin letters. 

 A window is a window until you open it.

He straightened as if pricked by something sharp, mouth opened to call Krispen over, show his odd discovery, but his words died on his tongue. Something gripped him and he changed his mind. 

The window waited patiently.

Beads of sweat clung at his hairline, he clenched his hands. He met his reflections strange, dark eyes again, his blood a distant and fuzzy roar in his ears. 

The window waited patiently.

He flipped the lock latch, the sound echoed loud and heavy in his head like a deep cave, his fingers found purchase, his shoulders tensed, arms braced to push up with all his strength. 

“Let's see whatcha got, Grearson.” Krispen laughed behind him. 

Tom took a deep breath, his lungs expanding, then out in a puff of air, he pulled-

The window opened with ease, almost on its own accord than any effort on Tom's part, smooth and sudden like the drop of the guillotine. The glass shattered, exploding outwards in a blizzard of jagged snowflakes. Tom pitched forward, a sound of surprise and terror stuck in his esophagus, his momentum sending him through and out the now opened window. 

He falls the twenty feet in a rush of glass and limbs and fire-the moment stretched out impossibly long, keeping him suspended and powerless in the horror and gut wrenching sensation of having nothing beneath you but air. The ground below, the grass, the sidewalk, melted away to a black void, and all he could see were flames. He hears the window slam closed somewhere above him, he can't tell what is up or down, and he manages to scream then, and the heat fills him from the outside in. 

Everything twists back into focus, he glimpses the setting sun, he feels the shards of glass in his hair, one last raw shout of panic and fear-

He hits the ground.

 

Tom’s eyes snap open, he jolts in place and gasps like a fish out of water where he lays on his back in his best friend's attic. Krispen is kneeling next to him, looking mutually relieved and angry. 

“Cripes Tom! You scared the piss out of me!” 

Tom doesn't respond, his chest still heaving, his whole body shaking. Everything is shaking.

“I thought you were dead, seeing you fall like that and hit your head! Just think what your mom would've done to me, not to mention my mom-”

Tom sits up as best he can, his tongue fused to the roof of his mouth-he blinks and red rectangles dance behind his lids. Just across from him, a few feet away, the window is whole and intact. The lock latch flipped back into place. Krispen stands and offers Tom his hand to take. 

“I told you you couldn't open it.” 

Robotically Tom lets Krispen pull him to his feet, and the feeling of freefall lingers and he sways in place. The light in the room dims as the sun sinks lower, Tom is still staring, and the window stares back-

And waits patiently.

 


Then, it becomes a door.


© Copyright 2020 R.R. Jordan. All rights reserved.

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