Humans logo

"Dark Windows"

by Ashley Wentz about a year ago in literature

Inspired from Sunset Boulevard

*While I was watching Sunset Boulevard one night I was listening to Joe and Betty describe a story for a movie script. If you have seen the movie you may know what I am going for, but for those who haven't I will not spoil it. The general idea was not mine alone, though I have been intrigued by the notion since watching the film.*

Mary sighed as she stared at the circle on her newspaper, the only square left of the whole tattered sheet, the rest of it filled with other circles and striking lines marking out the other listings. Finding a decent place to live has not been easy since she had moved to this city, but she was determined for it to work out. She clutched her umbrella in her oposite hand her elbow keeping her shoulder bag as close to her as possible as her jacket hugged against her barely keeping out the chill anymore.

"If only the rain would let up..." She thought to herself, "At least then going to all of these buildings would at least be bearable..." She checked the address again before going up a set of stairs careful not to slip in the puddles and made her way inside the large front doors, inside was dim but warm as an elderly woman sat behind the large window to the office looking at Mary through the bars. Mary struggled between her bag and umbrella and set them both by the door unbuttoning the front of her jacket as she stepped towards the office.

"Good evening..." The old woman said dryly, peering at Mary through her thick rimmed spectacles.

"Evening..." Mary said adusting her hat more firmly over her wet hair, "I read in the paper that there was a room available here..." The woman looked at her notebook and said,

"Yes... room twelve is available..." Mary let out a sigh before the woman said, "BUT, it is half rented." Mary looked at the woman for a moment then said,

"So, I would have a roommate?" Mary asked.

"If you could call it that... they work overnight." Mary nodded processing her options and let out a breath asking,

"How much would it be?"

"Twelve dollars a week, but if you sign for it it would be six for you and six for the other tenant." Mary smiled and said,

"That's a very good price, I'm a school teacher just starting with the younger classes and I dont make much money right now..." But then she paused and added, "How will I know if I can trust my roommate?" The woman looked at her papers and said, "They have been renting for a few months now... they have a clean record, they don't make noise and we don't allow our tenants to bring home any guests here, they have hotels got that sort of thing." Mary almost gasped at the woman's crude wording. "We also have no children and no animals allowed."

"You seem to be particular about who you rent to."

"We are, my husband and I have been in this business for a very long time and we will not tolerate being run around on."

"Oh, of course not." Mary said, "I have no children and no animals, not even a lot of luggage... just a box or two of clothes and books... I really just need a place to have dinner and sleep..." The woman nodded and said,

"Well at six dollars a week I think we can make that a deal and I will drop a note to the other tenant... would you like to see the room first?" Mary smiled gratefully and said,

"Yes, please." The woman put up a small sign that read;

"Away from Desk"

And she slid off of her chair getting a key from the wall as Mary grabbed her bag and umbrella from by the door and followed the woman up the large staircase. As they went up the stairs it was rather quiet, other than the ocasional TV playing or maybe an insidtinct conversation, however they did pass one room where she could hear a man yelling incoherently and a woman's voice shouted back.

"That's the Grace's..." The old woman said as they passed the door, "She's quieter on her own but don't be to alarmed if you here something breaking in there... I would throw them out but they always pay on time, her husband works at the bank..." Mary nodded quietly thanking God that the woman continued to lead her up another floor away from the shouting. They went up to the fourth floor and went to the door marked 4F and the woman unlocked the door opening it widely and turning on the light. It was a midsized room, clean and quiet. They stepped into the front into the living room and the kitchen by the window, off the the side was a decent sized bed, the blankets unmade, and a small bathroom with a tub and connected shower and a small sink. Mary stepped around the room noticing someone was indeed living here, but also not really 'living', just a place to lay their head a few newspapers and books laying around. "What do you think?" The woman said to Mary as she checked the fridge and kithen sink finding it clean enough. Mary nodded and said,

"I'll take it for a trial period..." The woman nodded and said,

"Yes not knowing who your roommate is can be unnerving... well come on back downstairs and we'll get the paperwork done..." They closed and locked the door and trekked back downstairs back to the small office and the woman got some papers gathered together. "Name?"

"Mary Walsh." She said as the woman wrote things down,

"You said you are a teacher?"

"Yes, ma'am, grade school."

"We are agreeing on paying six dollars a week, due every Friday, and you get a week grace period. If you stay long enough that could differ." Mary nodded understaning that meant if they liked her long enough or not. "You'll put your money in an envelope each week with your name in it and slide it in this box here." She pointed at a small mailbox with a lock on it latched to the gating of the window Mary looked at it and said,

"Yes, ma'am."

"If anything breaks you come to the desk and find me or my husband." Mary nodded, "We are the St. Johns Mister and Missus, that is what you will call us, we don't go for any of this first name stuff." Mary nodded. She set the paper in front of Mary and said,

"Sign, Date and pay." Mary scrawled her signature on the paper, wrote the date and dug into her back finding the first six dollars of her new home handing them over. Mrs. St. John stamped it with a large rubber stamp and said, "When would you like to move in?"

"I can be here tomorrow evening with my things, I have school in the morning and still have a night at my hotel room." She handed Mary the small set of keys she had carried with them upstairs, "The gold is for your room, the silver is for the front doors if it is ever locked, ALWAYS lock it back behind you if it is and always lock your door. Don't lose your keys, you have to pay for replacements."

"Yes, ma'am, Thank you so much." She nodded and said, "I will see you tomorrow." The woman nodded as Mary smiled and left the building going to her hotel, the rain no longer feeling as cold and unforgiving as it had before. She got into her hotel room and took a hot shower hanging her things to dry from the rain, and after getting dressed she gathered all of her things together and went to bed feeling much lighter than she had earlier that day.

The front doors of the apartment buildings opened and a very tired man stepped in taking off his hat and overcoat from the rain.

"Morning, Mr. St. John..." He mumbled a bit seeing the older man sitting at the desk.

"Good morning, Mr. Thomas, has it stopped raining?"

"Not quite..." He said heading towards the stairs,

"Mr. Thomas, my wife left a message for you." He sighed and stepped back down the few steps he had made it up and went back to the desk before asking,

"Did I leave the TV on again?"

"No, Sir, she wanted me to tell you that you have a roommate now but they work during the day, so I don't think they will be in your way to much..." Mr. Thomas sighed a bit and asked,

"Who are they?"

"I'm not sure that's all she told me." He sighed again roughing at his hair a bit and said,

"Are they up there now?"

"No, they aren't moving in till tonight, you'll probably be at work already I assume... BUT it makes your rent six dollars a week instead of twelve." He smirked a bit and said,

"You do know how to butter a guy up, don't you?" The elderly man smiled and said,

"Well, I did save the best for last." He nodded and said,

"Good day, Mr, St. John."

"Sleep well, Mr. Thomas." And with that he headed up to the room finally able to have some food before showering and getting into bed.

Mary woke up and got ready to get to school and inquired at the front desk about her moving, they agreed to keep her room for the day till she got back from work. She smiled as she headed to the trolley to get to the school on time feeling the world turning on a better day than her recent have been. Her class was even better behaved that day and she was so proud they made it through their lessons without her having to be cross with them at all. As they headed out of the room she thanked each of her students for making the day go so smoothly. She finished grading her papers keeping and eye on the time and then headed back to the hotel hailing a cab and the driver helping her with her things as she thanked the front desk workers for their help and got into the cab heading to her new home. The driver helped her with her things up to the room and she gave him a decent tip thanking him for everything and then closed the door. She looked around the room, it looked pretty much the same as it had the evening before. She went downstairs and found Mr. and Mrs. St. John at the desk and said,

"Hello, thank you for the room."

"You're welcome, dear," Mrs. St. John said, "This is my husband."

"Hello, Mr. St. John." Mary said. He smiled and said,

"Hello, aren't you a pretty thing?"

"Amos." His wife said sharply.

"I'm sorry, dear..." He responded. Mary smiled and said,

"I was wondering if there was a place to get some dinner near here?"

"Yes," Mrs. St. John said, "Right on the corner is a little place they have a lot of options for a decent price. Mary smiled and said,

"Thank you very much." And she went to the small place sitting down and asking for a soup and salad special and then treated herself to a small slice of cake. After paying the bill she went back home.

"Such a wonderful word," She thought to herself, "Home." She got into the room and started looking around setting her books on empty shelves and cleaning up the room, which still wasn't that bad, just needed a few things cleaned. She read for about an hour enjoying the quiet of the building now and then hearing someone pass the door but nothing compared to the small hotel room. She set her book on the small coffee table and went to shower and get ready for bed, sleeping rather soundly feeling more at home than she had in a long time. In the morning she made the bed and straightened things up before heading downstairs to the trolly and going to school. Not noticing a man stepping off of the back of the trolley and meandering into the apartment building going up to the room they now shared, passing like ghosts in the night. He stepped into the room and found it cleaner than he had left it the night before, the bed made and the few dishes cleaned. New books were set neatly on the shelves and one sat on the coffee table a bookmark midway through. He looked aroud deciding the situation wasn't as bad so far but would keep note of things as the days went by.

When Friday evening came the fridge was filled with groceries and the cabinet filled with cans and boxes of food, cleaning supplys now took up the empty space under the kitchen sink and soaps hid in the bathroom cupboard. Mary sighed feeling very pleased with herself and got ready for bed, she had classes for adults over the weekends helping her keep money coming in, but there were times she preferred the children to the adults learning.

After several weeks of this situation Mr. Thomas found a note on the kitchen table with very nice handwriting that said,

"Hello, Neighbor, I hope you sleep well, there is breakfast in the fridge.

-Mary"

He stared at the note, he hadn't noticed he was living with a woman, he hadn't thought about it at all, the curiousity passed his mind if she knew about him...

That evening he made dinner, it wasn't much but he hoped it helped and left his own note on the table, trying to keep his handwriting as neat as possible as he wrote,

"Hello, Mary, thank you for breakfast, I made dinner. I hope it is as good as breakfast was, thank you.

-Nate."

When Mary came in she saw the note and smiled picking it up but froze when she saw the name, she had been living with a man this entire time... how is that even POSSIBLE?! She was in absolute shock, but also looking back she did see the signs around... though she hadn't really snooped around... She opened the fridge and found a nice bowl of stew, still slightly warm even, like he left within the past hour.

They continued writing notes to each other, asking questions and slowly unexpectedly becoming closer and closer, knowing the things without the embarrassing eye contact and the nervous shifting. They made sure they each had meals and that the apartment was neat.

But even after all of this time they never really saw each other face to face, Mary would pass men on the stairs and wonder if any of them were him coming and going, and Nate would feel the same about her. When either of them would be leaving they would stall a few minutes or maybe hurry a few moments coming back in, trying to catch a glimpse of each other.

One morning Mary was running late, actually on accident, and as she hurried to gather her papers and books for class she flung the door open and found herself face to face with a tall man. They stared at each other for a few moments until he slowly took off his hat and held it at his chest saying,

"Mary?" His deep voice so reverent saying her name in almost a whisper as he looked at her studying her face.

"N-Nate??" She asked staring back at him. They almost forgot to breathe when she suddenly gasped and said,

"I'm running late!" He smirked a bit and fixed a curl of her hair making goosbumps form over her and he stepped aside saying,

"Have a good day." She was still frozen and she whispered,

"I'm sorry I didn't make breakfast..." He smiled and said,

"It's alright." And with that she hurried down the hall to the stairs, he leaned over the banister watching her do down the staircase till she was out of sight. He waited for a moment then turned and went into the room closing the door letting out a breath, realizing his face was hurting from smiling. "Mary..." He said to himself and chuckled.

Mary spent the rest of her day thinking of him, the way his jaw curved and his cheekbones being symetrical his eyes a deep brown. She would find herself smiling, all of the small notes and questions over this time that once seemed like random pieces were now making a puzzle. And she couldn't help but wonder what the picture meant. She kept finding herself thinking about him, finding herself smiling. Her students even having to call her down from the clouds and ask her if she was alright. At the last bell she quickly gathered her papers and rushed to the trolley and ran up the stairs of the building and got in the door, but the room was empty. She panted heavily taking her key out of the door and started setting her things on the table seeing a note waiting for her. She smiled and picked up the note reading,

"Mary, it was nice to see you, it's nice to be able to put a face to match your lovely words through all of these notes we have had. Dinner is on me, I hope we can have dinner together sometime.

-Nate."

She scrunched her nose a bit and then there was a knock at the door. She jumped at the sound and moved to the door slowly opening it to Mr. St. John standing with another man that held a bag.

"Good evening, Miss Mary," Mr. St. John said with a smile, "Mr. Thomas left a message to let this man deliever to you."

"Oh..." She said blinking for a moment then said, "Come in..." She stepped away from the door and let them in the man going to the kitchen table and starting to go through the bag, lovely smells starting to fill the room as he worked to set her a nice place up even having a small bottle of champagne and a short candle lit. He cleared his trash back into the bag and Mary whispered to Mr. St. John, "I don't have any money for this..."

"It's all taken care of ma'am," The stranger said politely, "Tip and all." She smiled gratefully and said,

"Thank you."

"Enjoy your evening ma'am." The stanger said before exiting the room, Mr. St. John close behind saying,

"Good night, Miss Mary." She smiled and closed the door after them and turned to look at the table. It was a very lovely dinner some kind of italian pasta with chicken and had garlic bread. There was also a slice of chocolate cake. She smiled lightly as she opened the small bottle of champagne and poured it into a glass and started eating quietly starting to grade papers.

In the morning Mary got up early and made a bigger better breakfast than she had been making, she set it up meticulously as she too bites here and there and made coffee. She finished setting up the table for Nate having everything as perfect as possible and laid a plate over his to keep it warm and moved to the small bathroom to finish pinning her hair up when she heard the door open. She stared at herself in the mirror as she finished the last pin and took a deep breath before emerging from the room. Nate had hung his hat and coat by hers and looked at the table then her. She smiled and said,

"Thank you for dinner last night... It was lovely..." He smiled and said,

"I just wanted to do something nice..." She blushed and said,

"I think that was more than nice." He chuckled and looked at the table again before asking,

"What's this?" He walked to the table, his stride calm and quick matching his height.

"Oh, well I wanted to thank you properly so I stepped up breakfast a bit..." He lifted the cover plate steam rising from his food.

"It looks absolutely delicious." He said with a smile, "Thank you."

"You're welcome." She said smiling then went to the coffee table and started gathering her things for school.

"Mary..." She looked at him, "About my note last night... I meant it..." She blushed moving to get her jacket finding him next to her and helping her into it.

"Well... I..." She whispered.

"I was hoping this weekend... I can afford some time off... I just never had a reason for it..." She blushed again, knowing deep inside exactly what he meant.

"Wh-What about..." She started but couldn't bring herself to finish.

"The sleeping arrangements?" He asked. She nodded, suddenly feeling absolutely embarrased. "Well, I'll sleep on the couch of course, you can even close the door..."

"And what about..."

"The OTHER room?" He asked. She nodded again and he smiled gently and said, "Honestly I would rent a hotel room for myself after dinner if it made it easier on you..."

"No, I... You shouldn't have to do that... Yes, I would love to have dinner... perhaps Saturday evening would be nice..." He smiled and said,

"Yes, I agree." He opened the door for her and she stepped out saying,

"Sleep well... Nate." He smiled and said,

"Have a good day, Mary..."

literature

Ashley Wentz

Irish Gypsy Wife. I write, sing, dance. My family loves different books, shows, movies, video games, and music. We love life and do our best to live it to the fullest every day.

Instagram @mamapanda.13

Twitter MamaPanda.13 @AshleyWentz1

Receive stories by Ashley Wentz in your feed
Ashley Wentz
Read next: Little Black Book

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2021 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.