The Wave


Sammy wasn’t clear what the young woman was doing in the window opposite, sitting there as she did all the hours of the day that he was sitting in the window opposite hers. But he guessed that she was working at her desk, just as he was working at his.

The street below was always busy but it wasn’t always busy with the same people being busy all the time. Sammy couldn’t see the people inside the cars driving them, so there being different drivers was a safe assumption to make, unless the same cars and the same drivers were going round in circles all day, following the city’s inner ring road of which the street below was part. However, he often did study the pedestrians walking along the pavements below and he could safely say that they were not the same people all the time, but he did often recognise some who had already walked past hours before and were walking past again. Some even returned within minutes, but that wasn’t often.

Sammy himself often became bored with his work on the desk at which he sat and he would daydream, sometimes idly staring at the young woman opposite who could obviously concentrate more easily on the work at which she was staring downward. She never seemed to look back at Sammy. Which was a shame as he could plainly see, just from her profile, that she was attractive.

His daydreams, meanwhile, might turn his gaze to the passing pedestrians on the pavements, some of whom would often suddenly dash across the street, dodging the vehicles that had invisible drivers, or at least invisible to Sammy from up above. He wondered, with quite outlandish bouts of wild imagination, whether some of these passing people spent more time scaling the sides of the buildings, including the building wherein he sat on the seventh floor, than they did actually walking along the street. A bit like spidermen or spiderwomen.

The young woman in the window opposite was still sitting at her desk, of course. She had been sitting there for two years to Sammy’s certain knowledge. He had only missed keeping watch during his toilet breaks but he ate his sandwiches sitting at his desk and he was never sick and he couldn’t remember the last holiday he had had – but, of course, he couldn’t keep watch out of office hours. And down in the street, if he happened to walk along it during the evening or the small hours of the morning, he couldn’t see anyone at all sitting in her window because that would be impossible to discern from where he stood down below staring up. At these times, the city was relatively deserted. Indeed, he didn’t often have cause to pass along this street out of office hours, as he commuted daily from his home an hour’s train journey away and he would have had to stay up in the empty city deliberately – and his wife would have wondered.

He continued daydreaming and wildly imagined human fingers curling over the edge of the ledge in front of his gaze a few inches beyond the glass of his window. Not that it was his window. It belonged to the building.

But having glanced up to carry out this act of wild imagining, Sammy abruptly spotted that the young woman opposite was staring back at him staring back at her, not that he had been staring at her until now, this precise moment of staring back at her following his act of wildly imagining human fingers curling over the edge of his window ledge.

This was an apocalyptic instant of life, it struck him, after such an extremely long period of time without any response from the attractive young woman to his own staring. And her face now in full frontage turned out to be not only attractive but stunningly beautiful, even without a smile to enhance it. And indeed it continued not to smile.

What should he do? Smile back? But would that be impertinent without her smiling first? With some impulse, he decided to wave, but before he had started waving, she was waving. Not a gently regal wafting back and forth of her hand but something far more frantic just before he heard the sudden noise of his window cracking: the last thing Sammy ever heard before watching the crack widen around the fingers that had first created it: the last thing he ever saw. The sight of the woman waving across the way: the last thing he ever thought.

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