May 5, 2020

“Window Shopping,” A Short Story by Brian Wryter

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“Window Shopping,” A Short Story by Brian Wryter

The sun was not bright like the day before. It was a gentle and calm sun. Clouds covered it and made it calm and gentle, but still the light from it gave the time the meaning of morning.

The man woke up and brushed his teeth. He looked at himself in the mirror and felt deep shame. A kind of shame that made him not want to look in the mirror anymore. He put on his jeans and a white t-shirt that had a stain on the left shoulder from the pasta he ate the night before. The man didn’t look at the time and went outside his mother’s house. He didn’t say where he was going to his mother and two sisters. His sisters were in the lounge watching something that had a lot of people laughing and that made them laugh too. His mother was in the kitchen making breakfast; she looked happy, but the man didn’t care.

“Aren’t you gonna eat breakfast?” his mother asked.  “And where are you going?”

The man closed the door and didn’t say a single word. Out he went into a world that was no longer a world to him. He remembered when he was a child when the world was kind to him. He remembered when he was a few years younger when it felt good to wake up in the morning. Walking on the side of the street he saw a beautiful woman who was wearing a black cotton dress that stopped just below her knees. It shaped her body perfectly. The woman walked past him and answered her phone while the clouds uncovered the sun and made the morning bright.

There were trees on the other side of the road, but the man didn’t know what they were called and didn’t care. To somebody else, they were pretty and tall, but to the man, they meant nothing at all. To him, nothing was beautiful anymore. The ocean which he loved no longer moved him. The birds which he loved no longer grasped his admiration. He didn’t care about stuff like that anymore and he knew something good had escaped from him.

The man walked past a store that had a large window, and the man had to stop and go back to the store because he saw a glimpse of something in the corner of his eye through the window. The man stood at the window and looked through it. Inside the store was himself smiling to him, and next to himself was a little girl who was smiling too. He saw himself through the window holding the hand of the little girl. Behind them was a big peach house with a big door. Outside the garage was a black Mercedes, shiny and new. The door of the house opened and a woman emerged with a swollen tummy. She was wearing a white summer dress and was rubbing her swollen tummy with one hand and was waving with the other. The Mercedes started moving, and the man noticed there was someone driving it. The man got closer to the window and put his hands around his eyes and put them on the window so he could see clearly. The man saw a girl in the car and her face was not clear; all he could manage to understand is that the girl in the car was much older than the little girl.

“Excuse me. Sorry. Excuse me, sir.” A skinny tall gentleman with long hair emerged from the door of the store.

The man did not hear him. His mind was focused on what he was seeing through the window.

“Sorry, sir, it’s not allowed for you to touch the window. May you please move away, or come in if you’d like to buy something.”

First, it was the Mercedes that disappeared, then the little girl, then the woman waving, and lastly himself.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to trouble you; I will move away,” the man said. His voice was breaking and he could not focus on the gentleman. It was like his mind was not in his head but somewhere inconceivable.

“No, it’s no problem; you just can’t touch the window, that’s all. You can come in if you’d like and see the nice things we have here. You look like you really liked what you saw. You want a shirt? Pants, maybe? We’ve got good stock this month. Come inside, sir, why don’t you have a look?” the gentleman said and gave his best salesman smile.

“No, thank you. Thank you.” The man staggered away and started running, leaving the gentleman with a perplexed look on his face.

The next day the man woke up feeling the same way as the day before. He brushed his teeth and put on the same jeans and a different t-shirt. His mother was in the kitchen making breakfast. His two sisters were not in the house.

“Where are you going?” his mother asked.

“Look for work,” the man said.

“Aren’t you gonna eat breakfast?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“What did you eat? Yesterday you also didn’t eat breakfast. Come have breakfast.”

“I’m not hungry,” the man said and left the house.

He walked the same street and saw the same trees and the same people; the only difference was that he didn’t see the woman in the black cotton dress. He walked past the store with the large window and stopped again. He walked back to the window and could not believe his eyes. He tried fighting by deciding to ignore it and walk away. He stopped and went back to the store. He stood at the window and saw himself again, the same way he did the day before. He felt a desire to be the man he saw through the window. He felt the need to feel the hands of the little girl. He felt the urge to be in the woman’s life with the swollen tummy; to know her name, to know who she is waving to.

“It’s you again. I thought I made myself clear. No touching the window,” the gentleman said.

The man removed his hands from the window and looked at the gentleman. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” he said and began to walk away.

“What’s the matter with you? Didn’t we have this talk yesterday? And you ran away; why did you run away? Do you want me to call the cops?”

“No, no, there won’t be any need for that. I’m going. I’m sorry to have troubled you,” the man said and thought of running again.

“What is it with you? Is there something you want in here? What are you looking at so much that you don’t want to come in and see it closely? You keep touching the window and I told you that you mustn’t touch the window. Just come inside if you want to see stuff; don’t stand there and touch the window; sir, you are not allowed to do that, do you understand?”

The man looked through the window and just like the day before, the Mercedes disappeared first, then the little girl, then the woman waving, and lastly himself.

“I am so sorry,” the man said and ran away.

At night the man sat on his bed and thought about the window. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. He wanted that life so badly; something inside him made him crave it. He was fed up of his own life. He was tired of being himself; it was not right and it made him feel sick. What a miserable life. What a shame. I have nothing and I am so old. All my friends are married. All my friends have cars. All my friends have homes. What do I have? Absolutely nothing. What a miserable life.

The next day he woke up the same way and brushed his teeth. He put on the same jeans and a different t-shirt. He opened the curtain and saw that it was cold. He grabbed his bomber jacket and left his room.

“Where are you going?” his mother asked. She was in the kitchen making breakfast.

“Look for a job,” the man said and put on his jacket. His sisters were in the lounge watching TV. They were sitting next to each other and covered themselves with a warm blanket. His first sister rested her head on the shoulder of her second sister. Their eyes fixed on the movie that was playing.

“Aren’t you gonna have breakfast?” his mother asked.

“No, thank you.”

“What is the matter with you? Come have breakfast with us. Come; have breakfast before you go, it will do you good for the journey ahead.”

“No, thank you. I have to go.” The man opened the door and left.

He walked the same street and saw the same things except for the woman in the black cotton dress. The man wondered where she was, and if he would ever see her again. He approached the store and saw the gentleman standing outside the store. The gentleman was smoking a cigarette, and he saw the man walking towards him. When the man was right by the gentleman they looked at each other. “Are you going to come inside this time?” the gentleman asked.

“No, thank you,” the man said and carried on walking.  He took the first turn and walked up the street. He passed a row of buildings and a few coffee shops. On his right, there was a store with a large window just like the one from down the street, except this store was white and the one down the street was black. He went to the window and looked through it. He saw women’s clothes hung from rails and saw women’s shoes on the shelves. The man was disappointed; he was expecting to see himself, the big house, the little girl, the woman waving, and the Mercedes with the girl inside. He wanted it so badly; to see them, to see them one last time. He walked back down the street to the black store, and the gentleman was still standing outside. He went to the window and ignored the gentleman. He was desperate. He wanted to see them one last time.

“You’ve got to be kidding me; what are you, nuts? Are you trying to test me?  I’m calling the cops,” the gentleman said and took out his phone from his back pocket.

The man ignored the gentleman and focused on the window. They weren’t there. He could not see them. He was desperate to see them.

“Excuse me, sir; I said I’m calling the cops,” the gentleman said. 

“I’m sorry. But there is something I really need inside. I keep forgetting about the window. May you please forgive me? May you please let me go inside so I can look at it?”

“Are you going to buy it? You have caused too much trouble for you to not buy. Will you buy?”

“Yes, I will buy,” the man lied and walked inside the store. It was a clothing store just like the white one up the street; except this one was men’s wear. There were all kinds of men’s wear, from hats to shoes. The man looked around frantically wanting to find them.

“What exactly are you looking for, sir? I thought you said you already know what you want.”

“It’s somewhere here,” the man said as he walked around the pants area searching for them. He looked around and didn’t find them. The man stood at the pants area and put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath. He then looked at the gentleman who was looking at him with a confounded and frustrated look on his face.

“What are you looking for? Why don’t you tell me so I can help you? These here are pants. Was it pants that you saw? A shirt? Come to this side, the shirts are here.”  The gentleman summoned the man and walked to where the shirts were. But the man didn’t listen to him and stared right through the large window to the outside. He saw a boy standing at the window with his hands on the window and looking through it like he had done. He walked closer to the window so he could see the boy clearly. The boy’s face looked like his face when he was a boy. The boy’s hair looked like his hair when he was a boy. The man looked at the boy’s eyes and it seemed to him like the boy was looking at him through the window. The man and the boy looked at each other truly in the eyes. The boy said something but he said it silently with only the movement of his mouth.

“What?  What are you saying?” the man asked and moved closer to the window.

“What’s the matter with this guy? You know what, I’m calling the cops. Sir, what are you doing?” The gentleman took out his phone from his back pocket and started dialing.

“What are you saying?” the man asked the boy again and ignored the gentleman. His mind and body were possessed by the boy, and he didn’t know why and how it was happening. The boy said something again, and it was the same thing he said the first time. The man looked at the boy’s mouth as he was saying it, and, to him, it looked like the boy was saying “I love you.”

“You love me?’ The man asked the boy and the boy disappeared before his eyes.

***

Brian Wryter has been infatuated with the art of word from the time he couldn’t pronounce ‘art of word’. He is outgoing and likes social interactions where he can live well and grow well. But he also likes isolation, and that part of himself uses what his outgoing nature accumulates in his thoughts and writings. His only social media presence is Whatsapp; he’s the kind of guy that would rather wave and smile to you than text “Hey :)” over text. He doesn’t love reading and writing because to him it is weird to say you love breathing. This is his first publication, and it’s his first work published at The Fictional Café.

Fictional Cafe

#longing#men's wear#short story#window

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