My homegirl Naomi aka nowme has been working on a 365 day photo challenge. Her muse has been NYC windows. Every day she posts a new image of a window on Instagram. Two weeks ago she posted this picture of a baroque-looking building with a window that seemed to capture the sky. It was stunning and I told her so. She responded suggesting we collaborate: she posts the pics and I write the stories.
I’ve taken Naomi’s challenge seriously—in that I’ve written a story for every picture she’s posted since. However, I haven’t taken it so seriously that I get hung up on what the story should be. I’m not a fiction writer so I just roll with whatever flows. My caveats are that the main character is a woman and that the stories are no more than 100 words.
I will post them on a daily basis going forward. See our first few below:
Mina gathered the sky in her apartment. She’d waited for the moment the gods turned their backs, to stretch a hand out of her window, and with thumb and forefinger pull the sky—like a sheet of paper from a stack—through the open space. She expelled the deep violet dark of night for the bright blue hope of constant day.
Tara grabbed her granddaughter’s hand. “Stop,” she said, planting her feet on a crack in the sidewalk. Like a vine sprung from the earth, her memories wended their way around her toes, crawled up her body and swallowed her whole. She was back in the kitchen of her father’s diner, sunlight slicing through the blades of the fan in that window. She hadn’t walked this way in 40 years, her father gone just as long. Would he recognize his little girl with the crow’s feet and greying hair? She yearned to be kid again, holding her daddy’s hand.
Fall was right around the corner and both her boys were back to school. Her husband kissed her eyelids, his pre-work ritual, whispering I love you into her hair. After he left, Teresa glanced around the living room, content to be alone. Her eyes snagged on the ragged edges of her curtains. Her mama had sewed them for her when she and Juan married 15 years before. Between washings, games of hide-n-seek, and Bosco—her rescue tomcat—seasoning his claws on the hem daily, the curtains were a mess. They were her security blanket, a cover against the outside world.
The password was so easy it was ridiculous, fabric. The owners—two friends who grew up together in the Bronx—figured nobody would guess that they just removed the ‘s’ from the sign outside. The bass from the music vibrated the plywood in the windows and shook plaster from the rafters. Makeela snatched the pencil out of her ‘fro and scratched poetry in her notebook. Warfare, a weekly underground movement, boasted street kids wielding their social commentary like a knife. One day she’d have the courage to grab the mic and let loose her words, like butterflies, into the world.
Ayanna peeped from the arched windows in her office, a warm cozy space, filled with artwork and colorful Turkish rugs scattered about. Her modern plank of a desk was pushed against the radiator by the window. Under the desk was a small eggplant-purple, furry rug big enough to warm her feet if her kitten, Sophie, allowed. Ayanna was a ghostwriter. It paid good money but she wanted to write fantasy. She wished she could levitate on the other side of the glass and reimagine the circular tiles on the building as dragon scales. “Jump,” she whispered, opening her laptop.
Seasone daydreamed about Thanksgiving—her favorite holiday—every time she strolled past this window on her way home from her waitressing job at Joyelle’s. The warm golden light inside, against the arrival of dusk outside attracted her like a moth to a kitchen light. The first time she spotted the window, she stopped in her tracks and just stared. She could see it now, her and her imaginary husband and their two kids—a boy and a girl—waiting for the grandparents, aunts and uncles to arrive from Maryland. It was so vivid she could smell the turkey. One day.