There is a time and a town that you could mistake as your own.
In that time, and in that town, bore two windows, side by side.
Inside the left window was a boy named Leon.
He was frail, shy, and by choice, home ridden.
He would glance out in wonder on occasion, but never thought to leave.
On the right, lived another boy - Gwyn. Just a few years older.
Neither boy was brave enough to go delve past their own world.
They were aware of each other of course, but they never interacted, despite their proximity. And what laid betwixt? Walls, the mortar, and nothingness.
It was late into the night when Leon was tending to a few chores before retiring, when he heard a pitter-patter, just beyond his window. Apprehensively, he withdrew the curtains.
A silhouette of a figure came into view. It stopped, pivoted its head toward the boy and gazed in. Leon, paralyzed, knew not what to do.
The outsider turned away from Leon, and strode on. It approached the second window, stopped, turned its head, and peered in. It raised its hand and gave two knocks.
Leon listened, and heard Gwyn cautiously close the distance towards the outsider.
Dialogue was initiated as but soft whispers. Leon held his breath in an effort to hear the words. The outsider spoke “I give to you... The world. Here. Take it.” The outsider extended its hand out. Gwyn did the same.
One last whisper, and the outsider diverted its attention, and moved on. Leon, full of intrigue waited to hear a sign of Gwyn’s gift.
Leon’s senses were instantly overwhelmed. Lights poured out from Gwyn’s window with a vibrant array of splendor, a cacophony of music soared, and the floors rumbled with excited flurries of motion.
Was Gwyn actually gifted the outside world in the safety of his abode? Leon’s excitement elevated with the idea of receiving this gift as well.
The day ceased as night emerged, and sure enough, a familiar noise heard. Leon gleefully rushed towards his window and saw the outsider. However, it did not stop. It passed by. Knock Knock.
Met with only whispers again, Leon held his breath to focus. The outsider pointed into Gwyn’s window. He heard Gwyn retreat into his room and pick up an object.
Gwyn and the outsider made an exchange. The silhouette took its gift and started its departure. Leon caught a glimpse of what looked like a photo in a picture frame nestled in its hand.
A few moments past and sure enough, Gwyn’s room erupted with prodigious colors, enticing melodies, and vibrations all around.
These exchanges continued night after night. The outsider would arrive, point to an object, and they would trade. At first, Gwyn would ponder if his possessions were worth giving up, but ultimately, he never said no.
After some time, the highs fleeted, and gave way to the lows. The lights seemed duller, the music seemed weaker, and floors remained in balance.
The outsider arrived on time, as it always did, and knew the remedy.
Two for two. A gesture, Gwyn understood.
After doubling down, this night had an exceptional explosion of senses. The lights were vivacious, like they were on first night, the music echoed with playful complexities, and of course, movement returned, causing the floor to stir.
More nights passed, and more of Gwyn’s things were traded away.
Night fell upon the town, the pitter-patters occurred, and like clockwork, there was two knocks. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Leon waited to hear Gwyn and the outsiders exchange, however, this night he heard Gwyn speak. “I have nothing left”. The outsider’s demeanor changed as if to challenge that statement.
A few seconds went by. Not a single noise from that point on. Fear overtook Leon. He paced for some time. He finally gathered up his courage, opened his window, stepped outside, ran to Gwyn’s, and entered.
He had imagined the walls to be splashed with color, vast music collections, beautiful works of art, plants, life, stories, wonders of all sizes, and all the other things that would be entwined with being gifted entire worlds.
Instead, he stepped into a room that was blank. Empty. No pictures, no identity, just barren. Gwyn had truly given away everything.
Leon fell to knees. He called out for Gwyn, but he did not respond. He was gone. Gone from that time, gone from that town. Gone.
Leon looked out at the world from Gwyn’s window. He dried his eyes, and stepped outside.
About the author...
Jeff Schaffer is a multi instrumentalist hailing from the snowy wonderland of Michigan. He's currently in the process of recording a full length album with his band Cascader, which is due later in the year! He also manages to make time for creative writing and making slow (but fulfilling) progress on his first novel.