Now I’ll Never Know

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a voyeur. It’s just that when I walk my dog at night, I can see through the windows of people’s homes and apartments into rooms lit up by interior lights. But there was only one particular window that got — and held — my attention.

I never met the girl in the window in real life. Just in my fantasies. And now she’s gone. Maybe she moved out. Maybe she got married or moved in with her boyfriend. Maybe something bad happened to her. Maybe she died. Now I’ll never know.

I always saw her when I was walking my dog for his last walk of the day, usually between 9:30 and 10:00. She was always sitting in front of her laptop, facing the window, a small lamp on her right. What was she doing? Now I’ll never know.

Maybe she was a student doing homework. Maybe she was no longer a student and was working on an assignment for her job. Maybe she was an aspiring author and was writing her novel. Maybe she was a blogger crafting a post. Or maybe she was watching porn on her computer. Now I’ll never know.

I counted on seeing her each night. I only ever saw her face and her hair, as the rest of her was hidden behind her open laptop. She had, as far as I could tell from the other side of the street, a pretty face. Her hair was reddish blonde, or that’s what it looked like in the glow of her laptop’s screen and the light from the lamp next to her. Now I’ll never know.

I am reasonably certain that she never noticed me and my dog. The sidewalk right across the street from her building was tree-lined and rather dark at night. Although there was that one time when she seemed to glance up from her laptop and appeared to look out the window and directly at me. But she didn’t respond when I waved at her. Did she see me? Now I’ll never know.

I had seen her almost every night for nearly a year. I became obsessed with her. She inhabited my dreams. She was the leading lady of my fantasies. I had to somehow find the courage to meet her. I was sure that if we ever met, she would feel about me as I felt about her. Now I’ll never know.

One day very soon I would call up to her from the street right below her window and introduce myself to her. Maybe she would invite me up to her apartment and offer me a drink. Maybe tea or coffee. Maybe a beer or a glass of wine. Maybe she’d offer me something to eat. Maybe we’d hold hands, embrace one another. Now I’ll never know.

They say he who hesitates is lost. I hesitated. And now she’s gone. Now I’ll never know.

Disclaimer. This post was not originally written for today’s one-word prompt. But when I saw that the word was “homage,” I thought this would be a good homage to those who hesitated, missed an opportunity, and now will never know.

Duck and Cover

duck and cover

A post from Bad Dad Cartoons earlier today about “Stop, Drop, and Roll” reminded me of “Duck and Cover.” Are you old enough to remember Duck and Cover? I am.

Duck and Cover was a method promoted by the Federal Civil Defense Administration for protection if a nuclear bomb exploded. It was taught to generations of American school children in the early 1950s until the end of the Cold War in the 1980s. By following the Duck and Cover steps, we kids would be able to protect ourselves in the event of an unexpected nuclear attack. Or so we were told.

Life back in the early 1950s and 1960s was shrouded by the threat of Cold War. There were rising tensions between the two nuclear superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. A nuclear attack might come at any time without warning, according to our government. To ensure we were ready for that, there were periodic air raid drills during each school year.

In case of a surprise attack, we were told to stop whatever we were doing, to duck under our desks, and then to cover the backs of our necks and our faces with our hands and our arms.

The final instructions were to bend over, stick our heads between our legs, and kiss our little asses goodbye.

Okay, that last part wasn’t really in the official Duck and Cover instructions. But even back in the first grade I wondered how crawling up under a wood desk would protect me against a nuclear blast.

Figuring that adults knew more than little kids, when the air raid drill sirens would sound, I would dutifully duck under my desk, just like all the other kids, and assume the fetal-like position, confident that my wooden desk would protect me when the dreaded nuclear bomb dropped in the middle of the schoolyard.

The Proposal


Carl got down on one knee, pulled a small, velvet box from his coat pocket, opened it up, and held it up toward her. “Angie,” He said, “you inhabit my heart. You inhabit my mind. You inhabit my soul.”

Angie looked down at Carl with a look of disdain, indifference, and pity. “You make me sound like some sort of invasive species or like a cancer that has metastasized throughout your body.”

“Angie, I’m asking for your hand in marriage,” Carl said.

“My hand?” she said sarcastically. “Whatever shall I do with the rest of me?”

“Angie, I’m being serious. I want to marry you. I want you to be my wife.”

Angie sat down on the park bench and patted the seat next to her. “Get up off your knee, Carl, and come sit here by my side.” Carl jumped up, sat down, and gave Angie a hopeful look.

“You realize that we’ve only known each other for a few weeks,” she said. “This is just the third time we’ve gone out.”

“Angie,” Carl responded, “I fell in love the moment I laid eyes on you. I know you felt something, too. A spark. Electricity. It’s undeniable.”

“Carl, I really like you,” Angie said. “You seem to be a really nice guy. And you’re beautiful!”

“There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?” Carl said, a defeated look on his face.

“But I’m not ready to get married now. To you or to anyone.” Angie reached out and held Carl’s hand. “The timing is just not right, but if you want to, we can still keep seeing each other.”

“I’d like that very much,” Carl said, relieved that she hadn’t entirely slammed shut the door on their relationship.

Angie squeezed Carl’s hand. “Great. Now let’s go back to my place where we can inhabit each other’s bodies.”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “inhabit.”

Dollars and Degrees

Dollars and degrees

“Dollars and degrees. That’s all you care about, you self-centered bastard,” she said before turning away from him and taking a large sip from her martini glass.

He took a swig of his beer. They were sitting next to one another at the bar of the Tomfoolery, a popular pub in the Foggy Bottom section of D.C. “It’s Wednesday night, Deb. You know I have that urban planning paper due for tomorrow night’s class. I really need to head back to my place to finish it up.”

“You’ll use any excuse to get up and leave me here by myself,” Debbie slurred. “I swear, you don’t give two shits about me. All you care about are dollars and degrees.”

He liked Debbie. She was attractive, reasonably bright, and quite accomplished in the sack. But he was working on his master’s degree at night while holding down a full-time job during the day. He was barely half way through his 50 credit-hour curriculum; completing his master’s program by the end of the following year was his highest priority.

“I think you’re a little drunk, Deb,” he responded, finishing up his beer.

“And I think you’re a selfish prick” she snapped back.

He turned toward her and, affecting his most sincere, genuine manner, said, “I really do care about you, Debbie. I enjoy our time together. A lot, actually. But I have to finish this paper tonight. I’ll probably be up quite late and I have to be at work again by 8:30 in the morning. So even though I’d much rather stay here with you a little while longer and then head over to your place and spend the night, I’ve got to go.”

It was only a little white lie, he told himself.

She moved her bar stool closer to his, snuggled up next to him, and while running her hand up and down his inner thigh, whispered in a low, throaty voice, “I’d rather we head over to my place, too. We can both call in sick for work tomorrow.”

“I can’t,” he said, removing her hand from high up on his thigh. “I’m sorry, Deb, but I just can’t. Not tonight. I need to get this paper done.”

He stood up and retrieved his jacket and backpack from the hook beneath the bar. He leaned over toward Debbie and kissed her on her cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, and headed for the door.

As he was leaving the pub he heard her yell after him. “Dollars and degrees, you fucker! That’s all that’s important to you. Dollars and degrees.”