Window to Window

Most people residing in and around the city in Prague live in giant blocks of flats. These stand face-to-face – great stacks of windows upon windows, eyeing each other off over a confused clutter of parked cars and cobblestones below. A whole city of towering, open-roofed, concrete corridors.

There was a woman in the flat across from Alex’s in Berlin who, every day without fail, would throw open both her double windows and lean out into the negative morning temperatures. She would stay there a minute, belly to the windowsill, gazing out over the street and its happenings, before withdrawing with the same quick, pronounced sweep of her arms. It became a regular part of Alex’s days in that flat, joining in with the repeating rollover of sounds and habits that made up his routine.

From my desk, which is butted up against my bedroom window, I can see twelve other windows. When I first moved in, these were dark and still, barricaded up against the winter. It seemed as though the whole apartment block across from mine was uninhabited. But then the weather loosened and the curtains with it. Hands started emerging from behind them and opening windows. Occasionally the owners of these hands would pause in front of the rupture they had just created in the previously closed space of their apartments. Sometimes they would even lean out into the street like the girl in Berlin.

On one particularly warm morning in March, a girl shuttled aside the curtains. She had some potted grass in on hand and a cat in the other. She put them both within the little fence that encircled the sill and disappeared again. The cat sat there a for a while, squinting into the weak spring sunlight, sniffing at the grass, chewing thoughtfully on a few blades.

Now, the windows stir regularly. To the bottom right, a woman often leans out and shakes each piece of her laundry before hanging it up inside somewhere. Windows open and close with the sun. The most frequent window-figures, though, are the old women who lean out every couple of hours or so. They look left and right like they’re waiting for someone, and then withdraw again, until the view from my desk is like a row of dysfunctional cuckoo clocks, set to a confused myriad of time zones.

It is always women at the windows, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man. Usually they are old and very grim. They hang there, gazes so purposeful in their side-to-side sweeps, floral-printed half-torsos outside amongst all that concrete, while the rest of them remains flanked tightly by closed curtains, rooted firmly to the indoors.

– Zoe Barron


2 Responses to “Window to Window”

  1. 1 Alistair R April 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    How long before you start doing that too?

  1. 1 Link – One Way « Hyperbole Machine Trackback on April 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

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