The short winter days were starting to mock her patience with every passing minute; as the leaves outside turned even grayer and the sky looked as dull as one sky does in such cold, wet weather, the girl thought hard about what could have been, about what was and what will be.

It was one of those days, one of those evenings where she would sit by the window and think of her most memorable moments in life. The ones that made her wail in sorrow as deep as the ocean, and the ones which made a joyous smile blossom and bloom on her face. There she was, sat on the aged wooden windowsill where the white paint was chipped and old, where the only comfort was the heatless glass pressed to her cheek, and the emptiness of the room made the hairs on her neck stand on edge. It was as if something was in there with her, a spirit, perhaps. Or a ghost. Or a demon. Or maybe it was just her thoughts screaming, neverending whispers in the back of her mind that kept her awake at night when the sky was still and dark and blue like the ocean- the ocean where her sorrows and regrets lie softly and soundly, asleep beneath a willow of coral reefs and stray fish, swinging in a gentle breeze of waves and currents- that same ocean that had no visible end, not one that a human eye could make out, at least, but there was indeed a bottom to the deep pit, a ground below the dark water, where only the baddest, darkest and most dangerous thoughts lingered.

On such nights she would lie awake and think- she would remember until it hurt so hard that she had to get out of bed in the dark, deep night and pad over to the window, her light, her escape, where she would then look, far far away into the lonely empty streets where no person could be seen at that time of night, and she would let the tears fall whilst laughter echoed in her ears, in the back of her mind, behind her in the empty-but-not-empty room that poked and prodded at her back and neck with its long, invisible fingers and a voice with no sound, one that told her things only a soundless voice can say. 

And when she looked, and cried, she would laugh, because the streets were empty and no one was there and all hope was lost, and it was so, so funny how little us humans are, in comparison to time, and emotion, and three-dimensional space and the universe that is so, so long that we can only imagine its length. We can only imagine what infinity feels like. But that’s the thing with imagining; it can only work in your head. It isn’t a fact.  

It would be forever locked in her memory, somewhere deep underneath the pain and the humor, above and beyond loss and feeling and luck. Voicing it out loud and being listened to is just a privilege others can afford. You can observe someone’s every move, you can do what they do and more, but you aren’t them. You can’t see into their head, you can’t hear their thoughts. 

That was the problem, mostly. People assuming things over asking. Making their ungodly assumptions about things they didn’t actually know. Sometimes it amused her. To watch them stare and whisper, not knowing the truth. She’d let them stare, then. But on other occasions, when they said something so utterly, utterly wrong, she wouldn’t laugh. She wouldn’t say or even do anything either. She would simply listen. 

You aren’t right. She wanted to tell them. 

But the words never left her mouth, and the thought itself would be thrown into the water to rest with all the unspoken truths, and all she could see as it sunk down, down, down, was her own reflection’s ghostly smile waver in the water’s marble-like surface, and it made her afraid because the fear was real, the fear wasn’t a dream, or a thought, it was real, and raw, and in those moments it truly was there in the room with her. Combing its long, threaded fingers through her long hair and whispering to her, singing songs that sent a chill up her spine and made her stomach churn in discomfort and dread. Fear would twist her thoughts into unimaginable, dark things that she couldn’t fathom out or destroy. 

And as she sat there by the window, wordlessly  watching the street sleep with its peaceful gas lamps and their warm orange glow in the midst of all that darkness and numbness and nothingness, she felt oddly at peace. 

A thought struck her. She was happy. She lead a happy life. She could have easily chosen to give up. But she did not go, she did not perish, instead she chose to stay, and watch the steady street, and when it woke up every morning she chose to listen to its beating heart of honking cars and strangers’ footsteps and the pitter patter of rain that fell every now and again when the sky cried and the clouds were grey. 

She greeted every dawn with its golden rays of sunshine, and watched on as the cars outside drove by, their dirty tiers leaving dancing lines etched into the fresh snow, corrupting the angelic white with their darkness like blood spilled on pearls. 

And sleep would drag at her eyes, but she refused to falter, refused to give in to temptation and comfort, for she had all the comfort she could need- her looking glass, and she would not leave it willingly. 


Days passed and snow fell, the sky wept and she wept with it, and the strangers outside left more footprints in the snow. But the more she looked, the more she realized, the people weren’t strangers at all. The man in a tall top hat and dark suit would pass by the tailor’s every morning, the woman with long red hair in her pink tattered coat would park her car by the furthest streetlamp and walk to the far right until she was out of view, and a boy- the boy with his mop of brown curls and his big doe eyes, oh, he’d cross the street every morning and stop in the middle of the road to look up into her window. 

Day after day she watched them go, one way and the other, bustling by and rushing in different directions, one way and the other. And then one morning, before the sun was properly up and before the sky turned bright and blue, she got up and decided to go outside. 

It was her turn to be someone’s stranger. Maybe even a friend. It was her turn to walk down that same street and laugh and talk. It was her turn to live again. So, before turning away she pressed her hand to the cold glass, whispered a softly spoken goodbye, and carried on, forwards.


Written by Louise Bell.