Word Count: 741
Prompt: one wave
A/N: Written for musemuggers, Challenge #532, option #1.
The house on the corner is unremarkable. It has the same square footage as all the rest on the block—he knows because he’d had a look at the prospectus once when it had gone up for sale years ago. He’d seen enough to know that aside from a few differences in appearance, it didn’t boast superior features to any of the other homes on Peachtree Lane.
It isn’t the model layout or a quality view that draws his gaze, nor the spectacular landscaping, though he has to admit that the pavers were laid by an aesthete. No, there is something else about the house at 104 Peachtree that holds his interest far beyond what the manicured lawn reveals to the casual observer.
At dusk on Tuesdays, he makes sure he is in the car and on his way home from the office. There are no last mid-week meetings for him, not anymore. He must be at the corner by 6:30, without exception. He always is.
He makes a left on Ash and then a right on Elm. His timing is impeccable now, and he idles at the stop sign for just a moment before the light in the back bedroom blinks on and spills over the leaves of the weeping cherry in welcome. It is about to begin.
No one else can see; he has made sure that his is the only clear vantage. He had discovered it by accident all those months ago and has been unable to recreate the view from any other point than the near-military precision to which his front bumper aligns to the curb at the sign near a tasteful azalea. It was by pure chance that he had turned his head, glancing back through the Johnson’s hedgerow last November, to see her framed in light. He hadn’t been looking then, but he is looking now.
It isn’t a sick, sneaking sort of thing, though he supposes it would seem that way to others. He’d never imagined himself standing outside, watching. Peeping, they call it. An outdated word. A childish sort of word.
A cowardly word
He shakes his head, long having resigned himself to the inevitability of this action. One small stop, his foot heavy on the brake for one extra beat, his head turns for a moment, that is all this is. In all the long minutes that add up to hours dragging in his week, this cannot be a sin. No one can begrudge him this one bright minute in the slog of his life. No one will.
A faraway shadow falls; it is beginning. Her form is highlighted against the darkness. Does she know what longing she wreaks as her arms encircle herself to pull the clothes from her body? His mouth runs dry as he catches the merest glimpse of skin, then she turns away, unclasping a hook, her hair a curtain to hide the bare back from his gaze. Her slender arm reaches for cover, pulling it over her head with grace, and the show is over almost before it began. The window darkens for another week, and he must finish tracing his route back home.
“Who moved into the Garvey’s old house?” he’d asked his wife a few weeks ago.
“An older couple,” she’d said without looking up from her crossword. “Retirees, I think.”
“Oh, I thought I’d seen—” he took a sip of his coffee, rethinking his answer. “them. Just wondering if you knew.”
She hadn’t answered, but reached to fill in a blank. The scratching of her pen expanded in the kitchen and filled the silence that they could not.
Since he has discovered the light in the window at 104 Peachtree Lane, he has tried to see her every night, but she is only there on Tuesdays and only at 6:30. At one point he might have wondered why, but he finds he doesn’t care. He just wants to see more. He never does. One night he thinks he detects the slightest wave, one small wave of her hand, before she dims the light for the week, and he thinks he has never been so happy as he is right there, sitting in the dark outside the house of woman whose face he has never even seen. He thinks he will come here to watch her undress every Tuesday night for as long as she will keep her light on for him.
And so he does.