Second floor window, across:
A man who plays the piano at all times of the day, his keyboard by the window. I see the staccato movement of his fingers but hear no sound. His expression is thoughtful and I can’t say if the notes are right, if he’s pleased, or what he’s feeling. Sometimes he plays in his underwear and I avert my gaze. He could see me if he looks up, but never does – it’s dusk and I have the lights on. When he turns his own light off and leaves the room, I catch a reflection of myself doing the dishes in the mirror at the back of his bedroom.
Window next door, a wall away from the pianist:
Sometimes, a woman looking bored on her laptop. Most of the time the curtain is drawn, and in the darkness all I can see is the yellow that leaks out. This window doesn’t want to be looked at, so I leave it alone.
Next door, downstairs:
A living room I often catch in the cool half-light of the TV screen, watching the rippled colour move like the walls of an aquarium. Submerged and elsewhere. On the half-obscured sofa to the right I glimpse a hand slowly stroking a bare calf.
To the left, first floor:
A guy in his twenties, probably, laughing into a video call, or he’s taking a selfie, or updating his Instagram story, I can’t be sure since he quickly lowers his arm and loses the grin. For a long time he types on his phone.
In the street in front:
The pavement is partly overgrown with weeds, and in the morning I watch a father and young son diligently clear them away. Through the glass I can’t hear what they’re saying. The boy gesticulates energetically from somewhere within the depths of a coat, hat, gloves, wellies. His dad laughs, and with thick gardening gloves brushes the rough shavings of soil out of the way. The boy is serious when he nods his approval – this is no game, but real community service.
Further left, in a garden:
A middle-aged man waters some flowers while a woman refills a birdfeeder with seeds. Soon they go back indoors and I can see nothing but the glaze of the white sky on their window.
From my living room window:
Three veterinary nurses in green uniforms walking dogs on the grass by the graveyard. They play fetch and the dogs fire off into the trees – soon they all go, and will return tomorrow, and the day after.
From the same window, later in the afternoon:
A woman and a little girl stand in front of a fresh grave, neat and lined with wood. Some days ago I watched a man from the church shovel grass and dirt away, and another day five figures gathered while a priest read mutely from an open book. The priest and his book went away to the church (chimney smoking) and, among the guests, I stood silent at my window, part of the ceremony. Today only the woman and the girl visit the grave, holding hands.
It is dusk again at the living room window:
A magpie stops on one of the bony branches across, later a crow, a pigeon, a robin. In the distance I see the white bobbing of rabbits running among the tombstones.
Then there is me, quarantined and at my nightly window, weaving my hair into a braid:
I listen to the creaks in the kitchen and Google my building, searching for estate agent photos of the other apartments, trying to piece together a virtual whole. I imagine a flat identical to mine next door, inverted – maybe the silent neighbours I’ve never spoken to are also at their windows, looking out. Maybe the pianist can see us, our kitchens a wall apart, divided. In my living room the curtains are never drawn. At night I sit illuminated and hope, for something.