Friday, September 10, 2010

magpie tales: Woman in the Window

Through the window, she watches the world awaken. Darkness that once blanketed the world peels back, the lemon yellow head of the sun peaks between the trees, checking to see if it was okay to get out of bed. Birds respond, spinning from their nests to scour the dew damp grass for a tasty morsel. She can not hear them, this side of the window, but she imagines their banter, like mothers at the grocery store, updating each other on their young, in their throaty song.

A neighbor exits his house, briefcase and trash bag in one hand, coffee and a donut precariously held in another. He wobbles a bit, but lets the bag slip to the curb, spinning to make sure he does not spill as the weight evens out. She squints as the taillights on his car flare red in the semi dark dawn, then he is gone.

Between the bushes, a shaggy dog pokes his nose into her yard, then pushes through, the damp leaves matting its fur. Giving a shake, he sprinkle the grass, then squats to leave a steaming pile of excrement. Finished he sniffs around until satisfied, then makes his way home. His owners will feign obliviousness, pleased that their own yard is clean.

Cars begin passing in more regular intervals, doors opening, people moving, rushing into whatever the day has in store for them. Boys and girls, laden with backpacks bigger than themselves, mingle in a group, in the driveway two doors down. Laughter fills their face as they chide one another. She watches all of this, behind the glass, until the world regains its stillness.

How long has it been?, the voice in her head asks, as it does every morning, knowing there will be no response. The truth hurts too much to embrace. She turns her back on the world, that first turned away from her, making her way slowly up the stairs to her room. Tomorrow, she will return to window, if nothing else to remind herself she is not alone.

On the landing, she pauses to catch her breath and run a finger down a picture of her family. The smiles on their faces tell her they are happy. At least they were last Christmas when the picture was taken, she thinks. The grandchildren are getting big and soon enough they will have families to keep them busy. It is not that they don't love her, they are just busy.

Continuing into her room, she lays on the bed, letting her bones settle into semi comfort with a sigh. Pulling a blanket across her body, to fight the chill, she starts to drift off to sleep when the crash of breaking glass shatters the silence, followed by the tinkling of shards hitting the floor. A hurricane of sound commences as furniture creeches, bucking against shoves, things fall in dull thumps, voices shout angry direction.

Heart stammering, she pushes herself weakly into a sitting position, heavy booted feet pound the same stairs she had ascended. Rounding the door frame, two men, heads hooded, except for their eys, stop, surprised to see someone actually lives there. No one moves, for a breath, each measuring the other's intentions.

A hard click echoes off the walls as her frail thumb drives back the hammer of a Remington pistol, that was once her husband's, and giving her best grandmotherly smile, she speaks for the first time in months to another person,"I just wanted to say how thankful I am that someone finally came to see me."

Silence lies broken, once more.

This is a 10DOM Magpie Tale.

118 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

wow...I did not see that one coming...brilliant.

Sam Liu said...

This is brilliantly written, Brian. There is a pang of tragedy for the lady, racked by loneliness. This line in particular stood out for me, "Tomorrow, she will return to window, if nothing else to remind herself she is not alone." So profound, so saddening.

And then that ending! Sharp and sudden, it really took my breath away.

Jinksy said...

Poor lady. But another satisfying read - complete with capital letters! Hurrah! lol

jabblog said...

Powerful and sad and breathtaking - well done!

Tabor said...

What a groovy ending. Only a woman my age can smile at this. You describe such a routine common morning so well. Every word paints the detail of that time of the day. Thanks!! You are too groovy.

Becky said...

So sad,I had tears in my eyes.Ive known people like this.Very moving Brian!

Kay said...

haha holy crap! :) I love it!

Magpie said...

I love this one!! Not at all what I saw coming! Nice twist that one, Brian! Have a great weekend.

willow said...

Heheh, that's exactly how I intend greeting any guys with hoods who come to visit my bedroom uninvited!

Daniel said...

Wow dude! Unexpected, sad, wry, awesome. Loved it.

HisFireFly said...

Such is the pervasive lonliness in our world.. that this visit was welcomed.

Well done!

Cloudia said...

This is deep and powerful






Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

JeffScape said...

Haha! Dirty Harry's got a date!

I'm also in a bit of shock... you're capitalizing now? ;)

Maggie May said...

What a twist to the tale. I thought she was going to be murdered!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

The Retired One said...

So wonderfully captured...that step by step scene that unfolded her day.
And the ending? A surprise!
When I did Home Health visits, I saw lots of folks like that, Brian...old people with a ton of family: and none that visit. It is sad really. We have become a "mobile" country where family live so far away from their ancestors, because of jobs.

Pauline said...

jeez! how do you do it?

PattiKen said...

Oh, very cool ending, Brian. I hope her gratitude doesn't extend to offering them tea instead of lead.

P.S. I am always so moved by your compassion for the elderly.

Okie said...

Very nice. It has a melancholy, almost tragic feel to it and then takes a very intriguing turn. I love the line of dialog...so ironic in light of the situation. Well done.

Carrie Burtt said...

This is brilliant and powerful writing Brian! :-)

Gabriela Abalo said...

wow Brian, so impressing short story, did not expect that ending at all.

great, great Magpie :)

Tom said...

nice change of pace.

Brigid said...

Great pace to your writing, I felt I was holding my breath.
I felt sorry for your character but at the same time am glad you made her a kind of gutsy heroine, a bit twisted maybe, but she took control,in the end.

sheila said...

Wow, that totally reminded me of the old lady a couple doors down. Until you mentioned the gun. lol. Considering she's about blind, that would be twice as scary.

nice twist!

Stafford Ray said...

Pretty good closing line for a nun! haha!

Titanium said...

You gotta LOVE a woman that knows how to wield a weapon wisely. Awesome story, Brian.

You've loaded a depth of detail, perception and rounds of understanding into this piece and pulled the trigger cleanly.

william said...

wow brian this was gripping mate, like most of your readers, I didnt expect that :)

sukipoet said...

You have us feeling so sorry for this woman, then pow she comes into her own power! A kind of O henry twist at the end.

Katherine said...

Loneliness, I imagine, would be the worst kind of torture. This was sad Brian and a very different take on the Magpie. I love the way your words take me to that place, the literary imagery is spot on .. loved it!!

Friko said...

nice ending!

Cheryl said...

Breaking my heart then making it stop ~ damn you ARE good.

Emmanuel Ibok said...

At a point, I'm running out of words to praise you. I enjoy your stories...you have a very big imagination box with a lot of creative tools in your head.

Keep fixing amazing stuffs...Cheers!

C.M. Jackson said...

excellent! for all the angst, she is not a victim--just lost a lovely neighbor who lived much like your character--94 and independent to the very end living in a big house with weekend visits from her children--you painted an amazing portrait ---kudos-c

Tumblewords: said...

Wisely crafted, tension rises with empathy and life-knowing emotion until the twist at the end knocks it outa the ball park!

Lyn said...

You always set up such expectations, and have a way of bringing total surprise at the end..who could ask for more?

DJan said...

I did NOT see that coming. Kudos to you, Brian, as always you are brilliant.

lakeviewer said...

That is quite an ending

Teresa said...

Completely riveting! I love all the details to make it such a real scene that ends in the surreal.

Myrna R. said...

I love the story and was surprized by the ending. Great writing!

(Thanks for your encouraging words on my blog.)

Caty said...

I'm so glad she defended herself. Poor thing all alone. Great story!!

Lori said...

Wow! You never cease to amaze me.. you write about such a sad topic that really is happening to many elderly people...so many are lonely and shut in just like this...you sure surprised me with the twist at the end. :) Happy weekend to you and yours.

rxBambi said...

reminds me that my mom hates being called elderly. she considers herself an "outrageous older woman"

California Girl said...

fuckin' A Brian. that is GREAT!

i love the story.

Sarah said...

I love the story. So sad...I hope I don't end up so lonely someday. I honestly thought she was going to pull out her dead husbands rifle and tear it up though :)

Not For Jellyfish said...

I always enjoy your writings... Always interesting and well painted.

Suz said...

I'm with Willow
don't mess with us

Leah said...

Poignant, yes, but a bit wicked too, which I appreciate!

Systematic Weasel said...

Wow, the ending came as a total surprise to the reader. Awesome post! =)

-Weasel

tattytiara said...

There's a unique juxtaposition alright!

Reflections said...

Oh so brilliant! The empathy drawing one completely in, feeling the loneliness of her life.

Then wham! She becomes the surprise heroine. Wow.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, your comments are truly appreciated.

Linda said...

Amazing story. Heartbreakingly sad for the woman to be so alone. That was a great twist at the end. I thought she was a goner. They got what they had coming. Shame they were her only visitors.

n. davis rosback said...

POW!!!

Susan Deborah said...

This was so sad. There are so many people who are like that woman: lonely, sad and waiting.

A tight write, this one.

Joy always,
Susan

Christina said...

Now that was a surprise. Great, vivid details. Very nice.

TALON said...

What a great twist at the end. She might be old, but that doesn't mean she's not mighty! You pay such great attention to the little details that paint a complete scene, Brian. I really enjoyed this!

secret agent woman said...

Sad, but also a hostile act as suicide some times is - a horrible image to leave with others.

secret agent woman said...

Sad, but also a hostile act as suicide some times is - a horrible image to leave with others.

adeeyoyo said...

Oy! You sure are the master of surprise, Brian! It is very true that people lead such busy lives nowadays that they should consciously 'make' time to visit elderly loved ones. I loved the twist and your leaving us in the air, lol, about the ending!

heartspell said...

I guess she was ready for company! :) Heartspell

Kaylen said...

Whoa...granny....totally took me by surprise at the end!!

Bernie said...

I hate missing your post, they are so good....I wasn't expecting the ending at all but I smiled as I pictured it.....:-)Hugs

kathi harris said...

I just luv unexpected endings. Don't u? This one brought a smile 2my face, bcuz I can just imagine how shocked the trespassers were not only 2 c her there with a gun, but 2 hear what she said.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

An interesting take on the topic, started off like anything else and ended with a sudden twist. Nice

ladyfi said...

So sad, and then so unexpectedly strong at the end!

Selina Kingston said...

It would take me weeks to write something like this. To capture the tiny details that you observe so well. And then the ending....I know I keep saying it but you are a genius and I feel privileged to be able to read your work

Lydia said...

Holy shmoly! Your writing is so vivid that it casts a spell. This is so entertaining.

Valerie said...

Absorbing and a with totally surprising ending. Great stuff, Brian.

Deborah said...

Just wonderful, sad, poignant brilliantly written and an ending that makes you smile ... who could ask for more! :o)

Just Be Real said...

Awww a sad surprise. Great writing Brian. Blessings.

lettuce said...

ha! excellent. we're so ready to see people as victims and helpless, nice surprise here

Susannah said...

Great imagery and wonderful writing, I loved it!

BLOGitse said...

wow...
I wonder how many are lonely, waiting, while 'others' are busy in their more important lives...

Zuzana said...

For some reason this made me cry. I think it must be my current state of mind...
Your beautiful writing has something to do it with it as well, I suspect.;) Have a lovely weekend Brian,
xo

Nessa said...

Sinister. Sad. And in the end very Dirty Harry. I loved the emotional Smörgåsbord.

Vicki Lane said...

Once again, wonderful, meticulous observation. And a killer ending!

Vicki Lane said...

Once again, wonderful, meticulous observation. And a killer ending!

Everyday Goddess said...

wow, what a great character. I felt sorry for her plight, and thought she was lost, but then she showed her resourcefulness and quick thinking. Nice surprise!

Lorraine said...

I think the lady is not lonely, she's grateful, and she doesn't mind dying so even with her gun she's won't shoot, she's not afraid of death, not afraid of the men in her house, she hasn't had a man in her house for more than a decade, she doesn't know if they will shoot...she doesn't care...

TechnoBabe said...

So did she make them go back downstairs and play cards awhile with her before she offed them?

Jane Doe said...

Brilliant! The ending caught me totally by surprise.

On My Side Of The Corner said...

Impressive!

Mama Zen said...

Amazing writing, Brian.

ModernMom said...

I did not see that one coming.
I'm going to go call my Grandma now:)

Fragrant Liar said...

HA! Guess they made her day!

Bravo, Brian, Bravo!

surbi said...

It can be so lonely growing old alone... Remindsme of my grandfather... I liked the way you potrayed the busy days hustle bustle...

Kulio said...

ooh!!! I loved hearing/seeing the world wake up. You are so good at reminding us of the hidden stories everywhere.

Wow I like her :-)

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Brian this was great fun.
and such a wonderful read.
Don't mess with granny.

Rene

mama-face said...

what. a. surprise!

i was going to say that i feel like that woman...staring out at the world passing me by...yeah. i guess i still do identify with the desire to make some noise-fight back.

i'm not sure my interpretation is what you intended...:)

Syd said...

Whew--a gun totin' granny. I feel sorry that she is so lonely. Guns scare me in the hands of irrational people.

Tina said...

Nice surprise at the end. You had us lulled into sorrow about her loneliness, and then BANG she finds her voice. Great contribution to 10DOM. Dang, voting is going to be tough this time around...so many good pieces to choose from.

ninotaziz said...

I love spunky grandmothers, but who thinks of their loneliness?

Brilliant ending.

Cop Mama said...

So sad, yet quite the twist! I seriously thought it was going to be a SWAT team hitting the wrong house!

But in real life, I too know an elderly person like this. It just breaks my heart and there's only so much you can do when it's not your family member.

signed...bkm said...

Great piece...you have to watch out for those Granny's they have a powerful punch.....love it...bkm

natalee said...

omg i almost cried.... They were just to busy... so sad..

She Writes said...

I SO did NOT see that coming!!

gayle said...

Loved this....read it to my husband and he did too!! I could see it all in my mind so clearly!!

Maya said...

i loved every paragraph.. the word pictures, the feelings of granny... i could almost imagine her sharky smile at the end!! bravo!

Tracy said...

Whoa, surprise ending, Brian. Your posts are like emotional roller coasters. I was thinking "I am going to post something like 'Brian you paint such a beautiful pictures with words'". But you can paint dark and scary ones, too, and in the same post no less. That takes a lot of talent.

Shari Sunday said...

Wow! Really good. Gripping. Realistic. I can imagine being in that place. Now she will have an exciting day of talking to police and receiving some overdue attention - maybe even some permanent reconnection with the world.

Lena said...

What a fabulous write, Brian! Although I'd have had that Remington ready for the dog owner who left the poop! Yes - I DO live right next to a park.......

goddessdeels said...

What a super ending Brian - my heart was pounding up to the point she cocked that pistol. Complete counterpoint to the sadness and pity for an old woman alone and neglected.

kathew said...

I loved the description of the neighborhood coming awake-but the best was the very ending- you clever devil! They certainly "made her day"!

hvninhell said...

Unexpected! Enjoyed that twist!

The Bug said...

Love this! Like Sam I was thinking about how profound & sad the story is - & then the ending woke me up. Nice!

she said...

awesome! i love fiesty little old ladies! great magpie tale! BTW, I tagged you in a short meme which you can find HERE Feel free to do if you like, if not, no worries! Thanks.

Kristen Haskell said...

Wow that was all sweet and nice and then bang you hit me with a heck of an ending. Nice Magpie!

Angie Muresan said...

Love the killer ending, Brian!
I work with the elderly and know that their loneliness is real and depressing.

Tattered and Lost said...

Love this!

ds said...

Talk about the unexpected. Her sole line of dialogue is brilliant. I kept seeing Miss Havisham in this, but you most definitely were not. Well done!!

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

I sure wasn't expecting that. AS i read through, i marvelled at the beauty of your picturisation of day through a old, sad lady's eyes and kind of predicting a sadder end to it..but your conclusion took me with surprise as well as glee...Enjoyed reading it so much

Goofball said...

yikes what a thriller, what a tragedy, what a drama


I'd advice her to go out and join some club though. I feel so sorry for her that she's abandonned but isn't there any place to meet other people for her? (ok, that's probably before she's sent of to prison)

also some advice to the neighbour: don't eat breakfast in the car, take the time to do so at home...much healthier ;)

Mmm said...

you are so good at the suprise ending. Antoehr great piece here, Brian. :) nice tie in to Willow's pic too.

Ed Pilolla said...

i like how you take this magpie photo and go totally internal with your character. and i really like the disturbing ending, of course:)

spacedlaw said...

Well, I did not expect that. Now I can imagine her forcing them to have tea with her, after which they would find themselves obliged to do odd jobs around the house for her...

kavisionz said...

Ooohh..and here I was, feeling bad for poor granny! She turned out to be the smarter one after all!
Gosh, you sure know how to keep your readers hooked, Bri! Awesome!! You brought in all elements into this piece, and arranged them beautifully and cleverly ! WOW! Kudos, my friend..

steviewren said...

Love, love, love the ending! Finally, she has a captive audience to talk to!

Birdie said...

I have devour this post Brian :-) fantastic, beautiful, touching ... and what an end to it ... happy day!

kkrige said...

I loved the ending! go Gramma!

on a more serious note, it is a sad state of affairs that is a reality for our elderly. so often forgotten behind closed doors.

Marla said...

ok, I am not reading you after dark anymore!

Seriously, this made me think of the lady I care for on the weekends. She is so terribly lonely but her kids seem oblivious. Breaks my heart. Truly.