The window casing is white paint. The frame an old 1970’s version of wood and screen. Sticky in the summer, and leaking freezing air in the winter. The bed is pushed right up to the wall under the window. From little knees the world can be seen through the pane of glass.
A crab-apple tree, so close to the house that the wind often makes the branches thick arms sway and leaves brush against the house. The smell of the tree’s flowers in May, the blooms a strong perfume. A little red house seeming to sit in the backyard. The kind old neighbors house on the border of our corner property. Backyards separated by an old hedge of bushes. But from the window their yard is visible. Square patio. Hanging laundry. And bird feeders. During the day the old man, stooped with Lou Gehrig’s disease or was it Parkinson’s, would shuffle along the yard. Walker in hand. Head ever bent towards the earth. Trapped in his silent world. Little knees, could understand that feeling.
But it was always night. The crabapple tree sending spooky shadows across the yard. The road on the side of the house mostly quiet. The benefit of living in a small community. Little girl, on little knees, nose pressed to the window glass, eye’s searching the road. Looking down the road as far as she could see.
Was it sound or light that was always first? Lights maybe. Heart would race. Tears would trace well-worn trails down cheeks and lightly fall from dimpled chin. Sound came next. Heart would drop. Fear return. And only too soon eyes would confirm that indeed it was not the vehicle hoped of. So little knees, little tired knees would wait.
Time was fast and slow. Was it hours or minutes? How many nights had this been done before? How many would be in the future? Or was this the night long feared? The night no lights would shine. Panic. Tears afresh. Whispered prayers. And then again, lights! Two beams cutting through the dark night. The sound. Heart swelling. And then, relief. Confirmation that light, sound and sight combined in the right combination. Tired little eyes watch it all the way up the street until, afraid of being seen they pop down below the wooden sill. Cramped tired knees stretch out under the covers. Ears listen. Ah, the garage door. Final confirmation.
Rest tired eyes. Rest little knees. For tomorrow night, you may be on vigil again.