The Window
By Leslie Dolin

Her window is on the second floor, at the front of the house facing the street. It is a casement window, opening its leaded panes outward to embrace the neighborhood. It had become her ever-changing display case, a collage of her thoughts, a window into her soul--on display for all to see.

Usually the right half of the window is closed. It is covered with photographs, pages taken from magazines, signs, and hand written statements. Most are too small to see from the street, but she knows everyone but us can read them.

In the beginning, the collage is on the inside of the window. Gradually it moves to the outside of the glass, as the desire to have the world know who she is becomes stronger. One day I come home to find her standing on the steep-pitched roof below her window, hanging on to the windowsill with one arm, changing the display. She is dressed in her nightgown, barefoot. Frightened, I go into the house, and enter her room, careful not to startle her. I tell her that I think what she is doing is dangerous, not only because of the steepness of the roof, but because there is still glass on the roof from the time she put her hand through the window. I ask her to come in and change the display from the inside. She does as I ask, and promises not to go out onto the roof again. The display continues to change, however, and I am never sure if she is keeping her promise.

One day, objects start to appear in the window--her guitar, her prom dress, small statues. They hang from the curtain rod or are on the windowsill. They are in the left half of the window, open so that the objects are visible. I drive home once to find the prom dress out on the roof, and she is preparing to add other things to the expanding display. I ask her to keep things off the roof. They need to be there, she tells me. They represent my problems with this patriarchal society. This window tells my story. It will make me famous. Of course everyone can understand what I mean except you.

It is night, and Jessica is out. The wind is blowing, and I hear something fall in her room. I go to investigate and find that the wind has blown the display off her window sill. I remove the other objects and close the window, concerned that it may start to rain.

When she is home, her display includes sound. The left window is always open, so that when we are out, she can put her tape player in the windowsill --speakers facing out--and blare her music to the neighbors. Usually she joins in, singing Janis Joplin as loud as she can. Sometimes she watches for people passing, and then begins to sing. She is sure that everyone appreciates her choice of music and her decision to make sure that everyone can hear it.

As her illness worsens, she begins to talk to herself in a voice that is seldom quiet. I can hear her from the window as a I weed the garden. Questions to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, conversations with the CIA, cries for a passing jet plane.

When she comes home after two months in the hospital, the window is cleared. The weather has turned cold, and the windows are closed. The time for inward healing begins.

All Photographs ©2005 Boris Dolin
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