Pic Credits: Matt Anderson

He looks at his watch, switches off the TV, goes to the kitchen. He stands there, no light on, the blinds widened ever so slightly. Her light is on, but he doesn’t see her there. Patience. He puts the radio on in the dark kitchen, listens to the evening concert, keeps his eyes on the window opposite. He goes back into the living room for the binoculars. When he comes back, he thinks he sees her, just as she’s moving away again.

He keeps watching. Can she see him? He can’t be sure. Anyway, would she do it if she knew he was there? She must know. Doesn’t the light from her window shine on his, show him there in silhouette, his hand on the blind opening it still further? Does she see the binoculars? The light from her room shining off the lenses on them?

He keeps watching. He doesn’t care. His girlfriend will be home later, after working at the pub. He’s not some sad loser. He has a life, he will marry her one day. He loves her so much it scares him. A commonplace feeling. But this is the stuff of films. The stuff of fantasy. She isn’t even that attractive. Not his type anyway. Attractive to someone else maybe. But she clearly has no boyfriend. Every night during the week she is in bed by nine thirty. In bed before the evening concert has finished.

He has put the binoculars down, so he can push the blind open with one hand, hold himself with the other. He hasn’t even seen her yet, and he finds himself getting hard. It is the prospect of it, he realizes.

He tries to work out what flat she is in. He goes around the back of her building one afternoon and looks at the buzzers. Top of the building, must either be flat 5 or 6. That is the way with these Victorian conversions. His own is filled with dry rot, but the rent isn’t bad and he loves being at the top of the building, having a view of the people walking by on the street.

He waits. She’s there, passing quickly past the window. She has a mirror on the wall opposite. Can she see him in that, his shadowy hulk against the blinds, one arm moving just perceptibly?

She never looks directly out of the window towards him. That is when he realizes that she knows. Surely if she didn’t know he was there she would do that sometimes? Look right towards him? She is complicit in the game. This doesn’t spoil it for him. He isn’t a pervert or a sad loser. He has a girlfriend, and thinks this makes everything about him seem okay to other people.

One night he comes home at around nine thirty, realizes as much, and looks up at his dark window. Parallel to it is the kitchen window of the man in the flat next door. The tall, dark-haired single man next door.



From Manchester, England. Included three times in Best British Short Stories (2012,2015, 2016). Four collections of short fiction, Broken Doll, Pictures from Hopper, Ekphrasis and Fog Lane. Two poetry chapbooks, Birds and Bugsworth Diary. First novel Sky Hooks came out in September 2016. Sequel Zero Hours out now


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