The Boy lounged on the steps for a few minutes, scrolling on his phone, then stood up and looked up and down the street with a question-mark look on his face, as if trying to decide which way to go; then consulted his phone and took off decisively to the right, passing my window on his way.
As he passed, he looked directly at me and smiled slightly, giving me a hell of a start— the bottom half of my windows are coated with a reflective tinting, allowing me much needed privacy in nearly-street-level windows without obscuring my view; he couldn't possibly have seen me through what was essentially a two-way mirror between us.
Once I swallowed my thumping heart, I realized he must have been looking at himself: I frequently enjoy impromptu shows outside my window when people tall enough to catch their reflection will stop to check their look or try out a pose or two. His actually meeting my eye was just a coincidence, an illusion of the angle, and that sweet smile was meant for himself alone.
No matter how sternly I reminded myself that he couldn't have seen me, my anxiety flipped on and ramped up to a low-level panic— the sort of panic you get from narrowly avoiding a traffic collision rather than the panic of stepping into an empty elevator shaft, but still uncomfortable. It was part of my problem with people, the discomfort of being seen, which I had to brace myself against when I went out of the house. On top of the fear of being seen, though, was the sensation of being caught doing something naughty, which is what turned the discomfort into real fear. The illusory conviction that the Boy knew I'd been watching him threw me into a tailspin of guilt.
Comfort food and pointless exercise were my remedies for mild panic attacks, so I climbed my rather steep stairs a few times before grabbing a pint of dulce de leche ice cream and another cup of coffee, decaf this time. And all that took exactly how long the Boy was gone, as I'd just settled back into my chair when he came back down the street, a tall paper coffee cup in his hand, walking slowly and studying the spindly trees and occasional flowerbeds along the curb. My panic subsided immediately I caught sight of him, his extravagant beauty a balm to my anxious soul.
Not long afterward another big truck showed up, a moving truck rather than a delivery truck, blazoned with logos and contact information for a New York moving agency. So the Boy wasn't from the realtors' decorator, but the new owner's decorator!
I didn't know the house had sold, the listing was still active the last time I looked at it, a few days before. I immediately went into the realtor's website and found that sometime in the last few days, the listing had changed. And there hadn't been a "Sale Pending" period, standard for online real estate listings, when a prospective buyer puts in a bid and the sale goes into escrow.
That may easily have been a computer error, and the price listed on the sale had to be an error as well: a little less than half of the asking price! The price had been too high, certainly, but the previous owners, a couple of trust-fund-baby financiers who'd moved to the suburbs when the female half fell pregnant, had resolutely refused to budge on that price for nearly a year. I couldn't imagine they'd suddenly settle for half, way less than the house was worth, less even than I'd paid for my much smaller (if much nicer) house seven years ago. There had to be a mistake somewhere.
I watched the movers for the next few hours, paying no attention at all to my computer or my television so I didn't miss anything of interest; the two men were very handsome, burly Italian types, and they had those nifty motorized dollies that climb the stairs on their own, which was weirdly fun to watch. Not much furniture came through, quite a few paper-wrapped parcels that could be either mirrors or paintings, some mysterious and obviously heavy objects swaddled in blankets and plastic-wrap which I assume were sculptures, and a lot of big trunks ranging from Vuitton steamers to decrepit antiques like I'd seen the Boy carrying his second day; the rest was cardboard boxes, mostly wardrobe boxes with metal rods across the tops though quite a few smaller cartons that looked like books.
The Boy came out a few times to fetch boxes out of the truck, all of them marked "FRAGILE" though they didn't seem to weigh anything. Fine glassware, perhaps? Christmas ornaments? I had a lovely time watching the process, guessing the contents of the parcels and cases, ogling the movers and glimpsing the object of my obsession, it was better than any birthday treat I've ever given myself.
4,616 Total Words