a novelist's dabblings

The Woman in the Window

“The Ides of March” Series … Prompt #6 – “The woman in the window (after Roger Aplon).”

Late nights working Tad’s Grocery were some of Addie’s favorite. Her coworkers complained that it was too boring, too slow, too dull – but Addie? She loved the extra time to think all her deep, curious, 17-year old thoughts. School was too busy, hectic, and distracting for them – and home wasn’t much better with her five younger siblings filling every room of the house with their noise. No, a cashier’s shift that went until 10 or 11 was just right for Addie. Stocking shelves or tidying the aisles was the perfect kind of work to let her mind wander and dream in bright colors. Sometimes she’d get so lost in her thoughts that Davey, her manager, would have to shout three or four times to get her attention.

Tonight, as he startled her out of her most common reverie – exploring ancient Mayan and Incan ruins to discover the past – Davey impatiently waved his hand toward the front door.

“We’re done. Closing up shop early. Haven’t had a customer for the past hour.”

He looked disgruntled at the loss of revenue, but Addie’s disappointment lay more in her daydreaming time being cut short. Nonetheless, she headed to the back to turn in her apron and clock out.

“You’ll be all right getting home?” Steve, an older co-worker asked as they headed to the door. Always the kind, fatherly figure, Steve made sure Addie stayed safe on her late-night shifts.

“Of course,” Addie replied, her cheeks dimpling deep in her grateful smile. “I rode my bike tonight – and you know I only live a few blocks away.”

Wishing her coworkers a good night, Addie unlocked her bike and jumped on, tossing long, auburn braid and knapsack both over her shoulder as she headed down the dark, sleepy streets of Boyd’s Hill.

Having lived here all her life, Addie could traverse these small town streets with her eyes closed. Every house on this route was memorized, the inhabitants well-known, and the trees reliable, old friends. They brought a sense of great comfort in their familiarity.

Addie’s favorite house was the one on the corner of Maple and Discovery – the 1904 Victorian-style “dream home” of all her fancies. The stories held within its walls she could only imagine – and did frequently with much gusto. It having been vacant for so many years, Addie secretly thought of it as her own and had every intention of buying it someday when she had the money.

Tonight, as she approached the house, she slowed on her bike to give it its customary tribute and loving, long look. But as she gazed up at its turreted third floor, she was surprised to see a light gleaming in a window. Even more shocking still was the woman silhouetted in that window – standing almost as if she were waiting for something – watching for something. She looked straight out, not down to the street, and an involuntary shudder ran down Addie’s spine. Without waiting any further, she kicked off on her bike towards home, heart pounding within her chest. Perhaps Boyd’s Hill wasn’t as sleepy as it seemed – and perhaps the Victorian house’s secrets weren’t as imagined as she had thought.

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