When I was the age of 9, or maybe 10, I lived in a little bungalow on Montgomery St. It had wooden floors, no AC, and a backyard littered with spiky oak leaves. I would sweep these leaves off my trampoline before jumping to the sky. Bounce, squeak, bounce, squeak. Flinging my limbs into various shapes, I would flip and glide through the air.
One day, one bounce, I spotted a face. Over the fence, in the window of the old people’s home next door, a woman sat watching. She was old with a face creased like tissue paper and a fierce black mane of hair. We held eye contact for the second I hung suspended in the air. Bounce, I smiled. Squeak. Bounce, I waved. Squeak. Bounce, she smiled back. Squeak.
Her eyes remained sad though, and even as I lay in my bed that night with trampoline-skinned knees, I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman in the window.
The following morning, I got out a thick black sharpie and several sheets of blank paper. I headed outside and, with resolve, started tracing out big letters. “Hello,” I wrote. “My name is…” I climbed up the ledge of the fence, and sure enough, the woman in the window spotted my paper messages.
I felt as if I had made a friend.
I don’t remember when it was that I first noticed the blind in the next-door window had been drawn. I was used to regular ambulance sirens outside the old people’s homes, but when my friend’s room was left empty, it affected me personally. Wherever she was now, I hoped her sad eyes had regained a spark of joy.