Out the Window by Vanshika Gudipalli

She would look out of the window, mind a jumble, and study the birds from afar.

They’d remind her of a simpler time, of days spent quietly in the library, of hours with her grandfather sketching in silence, of afternoons so unbearably hot she’d all but collapse on to her bed with her favorite stuffed toys, playing pretend softly and noiselessly.

She would smile.

She would look out of the window, mind a dark haze, and she’d see an abandoned playground.

It would conjure up images of long days at the park with her friends, of scraped knees and ice cream, of screaming to swing higher and higher and higher, of giggling about weird secrets and of holding up pinkies to seal promises.

She would laugh.

She would look out of the window, head a fiery hellscape of painful thoughts, and she’d see the darkening sky.

It would call to mind long conversations with friends, days spent laughing at the movies and nights spent tracing out constellations with her first love.

She would blush and grin.

She would look out of the window, mind an abyss, on the verge of a breakdown, and she’d see gathering storm clouds.

So she’d recall weekends losing herself in the woods and never wanting to be found, clutching a warm drink and devouring books and novels and tomes, dancing in the rain with her closest friends and sister because she knew they’d do the same in a second.

She would look up, nostalgic, thanking life for pleasant memories.

But there would come a day, when she’d look out of the window, her brain tearing itself apart, eyes streaming with tears as her heart pounded frantically against her chest, and all she’d see were a sea of unfamiliar faces rushing past, ugly neon signs, towering billboards, and skies the color of charcoal.

Mind a blur, memories would rise, unyielding like smoke and clear as glass. She’d only be able to look back on nights locked in her room crying, on secrets so big they felt like they were eating her up inside-out, on days punching walls and mirrors and floors because it was getting too much.

‘Bad memories’ she thought, panicking, ‘so many bad memories’

And if she dared to push open the suddenly oppressive glass, she’d no longer get glorious

lung-fulls of sweet, sweet air. No. She’d taste bitter, tangy smoke, dizzying and almost poisonous.

Toxic, that was the word.

The wind would carry dead leaves and dust and she’d wonder, her head in a whirl with confusion at the sight of this destroyed world, if the winds could carry regrets as well.

At first she’d howl with rage, but then when the sight never changed, slowly, ever so slowly, she’d become apathetic.

And one day, she’d step out onto the street and realize, she’d grown to hate the world she’d once viewed through a perfect window.

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