We’ve been taking a closer look at Through Glass a Stranger by Renee Dominick this week. The story from kINKED explores what happens when the man Liliya has been watching from afar decides to change the rules of their game.

Today, we give you a peek through that window.

 


 

Through Glass a Stranger (Excerpt)

by Renee Dominick

 

She sat facing the rain-streaked windows from the dark of her living room. Only the hum of the refrigerator and the ticking of her watch broke the silence as she waited. Across the courtyard, his windows were still dark, but they wouldn’t be for much longer.

He had taken possession of the condo weeks ago, and the precise routine of his life had appealed to her immediately, far different from the previous tenants. This man walked through the door at the same time every day, as if he weren’t subject to the whims of traffic, or a broken-down subway train, or of being kept late at his job on occasion. He placed his keys in the same spot, stacked his mail in a neat pile next to them, hung his coat in a closet with its contents neatly aligned.

She checked her watch, and within seconds, light flared from his living room windows. Predictability was such an underrated quality, she thought as a fizz of anticipation warmed her.

Humans had always borne witness to the unfurling of each other’s lives, through steel and glass now, just as through reeds or wooden planks or thin plaster in earlier times. The smells of each other’s food and the cries of children, the fights, and the sounds of sexual ecstasies. Anyone could watch if someone left their life on view. The man in her building’s twin, the man in 1412 North, had moved in and left his life open to her. At first, if he caught her eye as he moved about, she noted him with little more than idle curiosity. But curiosity became interest that intensified the day he stopped in his window and offered what could only be interpreted as an invitation. The day he dramatically altered his routine.

The bright track lights in his kitchen flared on, recalling her attention, and he came into full view through her binoculars. Whatever his job was, it made him filthy. He arrived home each evening with his hands and face sooty, his clothes streaked, and his hair matted. A construction worker of some sort, she guessed. One of the more dangerous trades to afford a condo in this neighborhood. She imagined him working forty stories up on the skeletons of Manhattans skyscrapers, striding across beams the same sure way he strode across his living room.

He didn’t stop in the kitchen or bother to turn on the flat screen TV adorning his wall. That would be for… after.

She lost sight of him as he made his way through the condo, flashing in and out of view behind walls and posts. She picked him up again as he entered his bedroom, his hands already clutching the lower edge of his t-shirt. He pulled it over his head, then used the inside to wipe his face before he tossed it aside. She tapped the zoom, two factors, enough to make him her sole focus. His body had become familiar, a human geometry lesson. The lines of his abdomen, the arcs and angles of his chest and shoulders defined his musculature, enhanced by the feature that piqued her interest most of all—his elaborate tattoo.

The first night she truly watched him she had mistaken the artwork for streaks of grime that had seeped under his clothes and stained his skin. She had zoomed in, his outline blurring as the twisting, twining branches of thorny brambles grew sharper. The tattoo began at the top of his feet, reached up to his shoulders and then curved down his arms like an anatomy chart of the circulatory system. But his marks were not so benign. The thorns were wicked, some dripping blood. Ink, she reminded herself. Blood-red ink. Every night she wondered why a man would have himself tattooed with brambles. Every night she wondered if he, like her, was walking wounded.

 


 

Read more from Through Glass a Stranger in kINKED

 

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