The graphic designer
Since his girlfriend left him, he’s not sure when he last had an adult conversation. Evenings are spent gazing out the open window at the dim lights of Lausanne, an occasional train rattling past, shaking the pot plants. Acrid smoke from a half extinguished cigarette curls around his head, a book lies dog-eared by his elbow. His phone used to flood with messages, calls, invitations, from friends. The flood is now a trickle. The phone lies discarded in the corner, constantly charging, never used.
The only form of communication he has with a real human now is with the checkout lady in the local supermarket.
“Merci et bonne journée”
He comes down to the office early. There’s no reason not to – this solitary room sits directly below his flat, his cell – and, after all, he’s got nowhere else to go. He looks around the sparse, cavernous vault, and sighs. Another day. Another dollar. (Or Franc, he supposes)
He wears his usual work uniform. Dark t shirt, skinny jeans. Hipster enough as a nod to his profession, simple enough so he doesn’t have to think too hard. Clothes laid out on the chair the night before. He can be up and ready to work in 15 minutes. A weekly shave of his head means there’s never any need for superfluous preening in front of the mirror.
After all, he thinks, it doesn’t really matter what he looks like. Not really. It’s not like he’ll see anyone. Today, or any other day. With most of his work done on the internet – Skype, email, IM – there’s no need to properly interact with anyone. His Mac is his opening onto the world.
He starts the day with his normal morning rituals. A glass of tepid water placed on his desk. A metal cafetière on the stove brews the first of many thick, muddy espressos which accompany his day.
He sits at his desk, looking out at the bustle of the town from behind the cage of his computer screen. Beyond the glass door that nobody uses, possibilities buzz, people scurry, it all waits for him, waiting to be explored.
She walks past every morning, lost in a world of noise. He wonders what it is she listens to. Music, audio book, podcast? Or does she just use the headphones to block out the rest of the world, as he tries to do every day?
Every morning he can feel her, rather than see her, glance through the window.
For four years, she’s looked in at him, taking in the single geranium, the small pieces of artwork, the emptiness. A fleeting potential of contact every morning.
For four years he’s ducked his head, unable to pluck up the courage to make eye contact, to smile. The fleeting potential suppressed.
Maybe today, he’ll look up. Maybe.
A resurrection of my people watching series.