by Paul Blaney
There’s a window in the furthest section of my basement that looks out on another world. The placement of this window is a little awkward; to reach it you have to squeeze between the boiler and the water softener. And it’s set low down on the wall, lower than you’d generally want a window. I’ve put a little African stool there and an electric fire to make things comfortable. I spend a fair bit of time on that stool, mostly at night—night-time here that is—when I can’t sleep. But other times too.
The window first appeared several years back, an October Tuesday. At least that’s when I first discovered it . . . but perhaps discovered is the wrong word because I already knew it was there. Like someone had whispered in my ear and that was what drew me downstairs to the basement. Or not whispered—more like the knowledge had grown within me, ripening until I became aware of it at last.
What to tell you about this other world, a planet I suppose? Long days they have and long, long nights: stars but never any moon. By day an orangey light reveals a gravelly surface dull in colour. No hills or water or animals or trees or anything of that sort. No seasons to speak of either but they get a lot of weather I imagine, though I’m not sure why; there nothing you could point to, nothing being blown about. To be honest it’s not much to look at, this planet of mine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I even think of it sometimes when I’m at work, or standing in line at the bank. It’s nice to call to mind my window then and wonder what’s going on there, even though it’s probably nothing. (It has occurred to me that things do go on there, only I lack the means of perceiving them. Had I the right sensory equipment, I might ‘see’ organisms, life, a whole civilization taking shape, one so radically different from ours as to defy imagining. But I don’t really believe this.) Calling to mind my window lends a fresh perspective to the day; it makes me smile. But I haven’t told anyone about it because I know how people are. I know they’d want to see it for themselves and then of course they’d have something to say. They’d spoil it with their words.
Do I ever think of going there? I do not. Mine is not that kind of window, the kind you can raise or open. Besides which, I’d be blown away like tumbleweed, if the pressure didn’t get me first, crush me like a soda can. It’s not as if I’m a dissatisfied person; my life has its pleasures and diversions. I may live alone but I enjoy other people well enough. You needn’t think me some kind of oddball. I just like to sit down here sometimes, gazing out through my window at this strange, quiet world. Wouldn’t you?