Mrs. Hennessy perches herself on the small, crimson couch and stares out from her living room window. Every morning she watches Peter Sandler walk his unruly five-year-old son to the school bus stop at the end of the street.
It’s been a year now since Peter’s wife passed away, an event that sent the single women on the block to the widowed doctor’s house, with offerings of brownies, cookies, cobbler, and other decadent, sex-laced treats.
Mrs. Hennessy would watch Peter open the door with a broken smile and withered eyes and accept each dessert. The women would cock their heads, lift their chests, and lean in just a bit too close. After Peter had closed the door, she’d quietly smirk at the women’s disheartened faces—furrowed brows, lips curled down, eyes a bit sunken.
Some would glance towards the window, and suddenly realize the intent of their visits had been discovered. With awkward smiles and accelerated steps they’d hurry home. Others would saunter all the way home, unaware of anything but the embarrassment of being rejected by such a vulnerable man.
Mrs. Hennessy avoided visiting Peter altogether—what could she say anyway? She reasoned the kindest thing to do was keep a genuine distance between them. This silence, she believed, was much sweeter than the bitterness of the spurious desserts.
Through the morning fog, Mrs. Hennessy senses the frosty air Peter and his son must be feeling.
The small boy hugs his father and climbs the bus’ steps, walking to the very back. He sits and looks out the window, waves his thin arm and smiles. Peter waves back and remains standing, waiting for the bus to drive down the road, turn the corner, and disappear.
He waits. Mrs. Hennessy knows he’ll wait a few minutes more. She wonders if he is saying a prayer for his wife, asking what he’s supposed to do with the child now that she’s gone. She was the only one, after all, that could get him to eat his vegetables and make his lunches he would actually eat.
Peter begins the walk back home. For the first time, he lifts his head and glances towards the window. He locks eyes with the little old lady, and wonders how long she’s been there.
He continues, then stops again. She’s still there, perched on her sill.
Though he doesn’t know her name, for a brief moment he feels as though he knows everything about her. She would never bring over dessert and she probably finds dinner parties exhausting. He bets that everything she says in the rare moments that she does speak is unrehearsed. Those are the people that have a lot to say, he thinks.
He decides she is the only thing that makes sense, this little old lady that watches the world by the window.
Steven Logan is a corporate communications professional. When he’s not writing for money, he is busy working on his short stories and trying to train his new puppy.