I saw her sitting there, in front of the locked window, the streaming sunlight burning her hair as she carved her emotions into the well-worn frame. Her aching fingers moved with a frantic yet firm intentionality, her strong nails desperate to leave a mark in the rotting wood, her body begging to expunge its anxiety. She made intricate designs, long, curvy lines intersecting and converging in a broken corner where she’d once hammered in a hook. It used to hold her father’s old camera until the hook fell off from its weight.
She remembers her days in Paris, the men she’d known, the songs she’d sung walking unprotected in the rain. Some of her favorite lectures play out in a hazy reverie, the snippets of fierce feminist monologues, daydreams of Pushkin, talks over Fellini films. She wonders why she didn’t take more chances, but she doesn’t regret a thing. She doesn’t regret anything.
From the corner of her eye, she sees me watching her. She pretends not to notice, and I remain rooted to the floor, silent. My right ear starts ringing, and her body goes gently limp, whether from the weight of her memories or disappointment in my dishonesty, I can’t tell. The room smelled faintly of cigarettes and her, and I, in my cowardice and despair, knew not what to do but swallow my thoughts and leave.