The Space Under the Window

By S P Kidwell

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. I was feeling relaxed because I knew the agenda was clear for the day. For once we had not overbooked our weekend as we were prone to do. We were going to relax and ignore obligations for one day. But as I stepped off the stairs into the living room, the reality of being a responsible adult flooded back to me. The sun was steaming in to the room through the big bay window and the dust particles were dancing on the sunbeams. And as if for the first time, instead of daily for the last two weeks, I noticed the space under the window where the dust particles fell.

It had been two weeks since the baby had pulled all the books off the shelf under the window and the floor was a mess. The space under the window was mocking me and a voice was echoing in my head..."Look at this mess, get to work you lazy fool. No rest for the wicked." I turned away from that space under the window. I figured it had been two weeks already, I could at least get a cup of coffee and toast in me before I went to work on the mess. After relaxing with my coffee and paper, my oldest came flying down the stairs. "Mom, I have to be at the ball field in 10 minutes. We have a make-up game scheduled for today." His voice held a note of panic at the thought of missing a game. I grabbed my keys and flew out the door with him, calling to my husband to watch the baby until I returned in about 2 hours.

As I opened the car door to let my son into the passenger seat I glance back at the house. I had meant to trim those bushes last weekend. The bushes that were planted in the space under the window were growing upwards. If I didn't' take care of them soon they would be too tall for me to cut. I knew from experience that in about a month the bushes would cover the window and I would need a step ladder to trim them back. I made a second promise to myself to take care of the space under the window later in the day.

We arrived at the ball field with two minutes to spare and my son hopped out and ran to the coach as I drove to the only open parking space at the end of the field. The game started a few minutes later and my son was in top form. He pitched the second and third innings and struck out 5 players. But the sixth pitch he made was to a boy with a powerful hit. The ball went sailing across the field and slammed into the door of a car, my car, denting the space under the window. I groaned as I thought about dealing with the insurance company and then said a quick prayer of thanks that the window itself was not smashed.

My son's team won, but in spite of that we drove home in silence. My son felt guilty about the dent in the side of the car even though I assured him that it was not his fault. When we arrived home I shut my eyes to the bushes out front and the books inside in the space under the window. I walked quickly to the kitchen at the back of the house and poured myself a cup of coffee. I stood in the kitchen and looked out the window to the woods one story below.

As I watch the trees sway gently in the breeze I noticed a rabbit hopping towards the house. And as I followed him I glanced down to the space under the kitchen window. There was my flower box looking bedraggled and neglected. The birds had long ago eaten any seeds buried there. Only the weeds that had been part of the earth I had used to fill the box were thriving. And as I stood there thinking I realized the space under the window was mocking me today. The house was showing neglect; however, I was always too busy to take a moment to make things right. I promised myself I would begin work as soon as I checked my e-mail and finished the paper I had started the night before.

I booted up my computer and waited listing to the hard drive spin. And waited...and listened...and waited. My DOS was not booting...no "c" prompt displayed. I couldn't start my windows application and access my e-mail unless the DOS shell ran. And as I sat there staring at the blank monitor in frustration, it dawned on me that again I was being thwarted by the space under the window. Only this time it was DOS and my window was created by Microsoft. I swore softly so the children wouldn't hear me and I powered down the computer. "I'll let my husband deal with it," I thought rather unfairly.

"What's wrong, love?" my husband asked as I approached. "I can't seem to get things working today. "Would you mind taking care of the computer and the kids while I go upstairs to nap?" My husband seeing signs of frustration and fatigue acquiesced and I slowly mounted the stairs to my bed. I crawled under my quilt and closed my eyes and slept. And in my sleeping I dreamed. I dreamed that the earth was so destroyed we needed to evacuate. An alternative planet had been found, but the journey would be long. Pollution had reached a point that we could no longer live on mother earth, so I packed my family and we boarded the shuttle to our new home. As the rocket carried us towards our new home we glanced out the window. And down towards the space under the window we could see earth receding from our view.

I awoke with tears streaming down my face. I had slept long and hard and the twilight hours were just beginning. I crept into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I stared into my eyes reflecting back at me and I thought about the saying that eyes are the window to the soul. And as I stared I realized I had grown very old in a short time. The circles under my eyes were dark. The lines on my face beginning to deepen. And as I thought about the lines and under my eyes, in the space under the window to my soul, I shut my eyes tightly and I wept.