A brief note from the writer: My beginnings as a writer came from a strong sense of fondness towards all things fiction. This being said, I will still, from time to time, write short stories. Short stories will not come with any type of regularity or warning. I will just post them whenever I feel I have one worth sharing. "Window Seat," the one you're about to read, was one of my very early short stories. I wrote it years ago and have somewhat of a nostalgic attachment to it because it inspired one of the first screenplays I ever wrote. Enjoy.
by T.C. Barrera
Al sat alone in a room with four walls and a blackboard, a classroom. With only one window to look out of to have a glimpse of freedom, Al silently copied the notes that seemed to appear from an invisible hand on the board. Time was passing at one-fourth the normal rate. A second felt like an hour, and an hour felt like an eternity. His focus was immense, but at everything other than the notes he had copied. Three hundred and forty eight ceiling tiles rested above, according to Al’s counting and recounting. Partnered with time, silence was Al’s greatest enemy. Scratching at his subconscious, silence strengthened his imaginative anxiety. The fear of failure, rejection, and loneliness burned a hole in his mind. “Minor” insomnia, as he liked to call it, was hard for a person like Al. This particular day was his fourth sleepless day. At this point, time was irrelevant to him. Eternities blended together, and his imagination had spilled onto the carpet of reality.
Suddenly, he dropped his pencil, and as it hit the ground, time froze. Panicked, he turned his head toward the window and watched as the panes turned pitch black. A white outline of Al and his desk appeared which was quickly erased as if it was part of the blackboard in front of him. A fully recognizable version of him then appeared in front of the black background. From behind, a fast moving figure raced towards the image. Before the Al of reality could react, the figure lunged at the Al of the window, ripping flesh off of the image until it was a pile of bones. Thinking that his hallucinations were occurring due to the fact that he had gone on a horror movie binge watching session the night before, Al picked up his pencil, only to realize that more images were appearing in the window. A new image had appeared in the window, but this time, a different version of him appeared. A doctor, one wearing Al’s face, had appeared and begun waving at him. As he began to wave, however, the doctor morphed into a lawyer and the lawyer morphed into a military man, each of them wearing his face. Panicking, Al of reality had begun to try to focus on the notes he had written, only to find that the words on his paper had changed to say simply, “Keep Going.”
As he looked up, a flash of light, and a spray of red decorated the window as the soldier had apparently been shot in the back of the head. Al’s mother appeared next, holding in her hand a bottle of cleaning solution to wipe up the blood. Surprisingly, behind her, an image of a five year old Al was crying holding a split open cranberry juice box. Al of reality, however, never recalled having that happen to him and was not amused at the misrepresentation of his childhood. Al never cried as a child. Regardless, Al continued to watch the window as many of his fears began to embody themselves in front of his eyes. Al watched as images of him went through every emotional fear that his real self had. Al’s potential future life seemed to be projected outside of the window like some kind of movie. Al would live a life, sad and alone, failing at everything he touched and being rejected from every form of success imaginable. Eventually, he would die, with no one to attend his funeral save his three brothers, obligated by blood to attend. As the final image of his tombstone faded away, Al was greeted with perhaps the saddest image of all, a girl.
Cassidy, “the one that got away,” or so the saying goes, appeared. The source of most of his anxiety, Cassidy was the one person Al could truly say he cared for. The window panes, as if intentionally teasing him, played out the final image Al had of Cassidy. The day she transferred to a different college up north was a bittersweet day for everyone other than Al. For Al, that day was a depressing one. He had known and secretly loved Cassidy all his life, but embracing the emotionless high-functioning sociopath mentality that his friends believed he was, Al found it impossible to tell her his feelings. The final image that was projected was his final goodbye to the girl that he loved so dearly, as she hugged him one last time and walked out the door, time was slowed much like it was in the classroom. The ringing noise of the door closing resonated as the image faded once again to black. Around him, students were standing up, seeming to respond to the ringing, and had begun to walk out the classroom door. It seemed to Al as though they were walking into a void, as the panes were still blacked out. He stood up and as he began to walk, he realized that he had stepped out into a white void. Finally, as he turned to his left, an exact mirror image of himself faced him. Smiling, mirror Al said two words, seeming meaningless at first; it took Al a few seconds to fully grasp them. The phrase was simple, yet it held so much meaning, simply, “Keep Going.”