Ian stands with his hand gripped onto his mug looking out, a noise catches his attention.
The door slides shut a few feet over.
“Haven’t seen you around these parts in quite awhile now.”
“Good morning,” Mila said casually. She and her tea took to their usual spot on the aging lawn chair.
“Morning? It’s 12:56 in the afternoon. It’s been a good chunk of time since I’ve seen you out here and you can’t even greet me correctly?” He said as he gave a full-hearted act of bewilderment.
A small chuckle escaped her with ease, “Hah I’m sorry, didn’t realize I was such a hot commodity ‘around these parts’ now.”
“Don’t over-excite yourself now, it may have been a little lonelier out here than I was used to, but that’s all. So where, if I may ask, have you been spending your time exactly Miss Mila?”
“Not around these parts.” A smile spread across her face she couldn’t help but amuse herself a bit further.
“Yeah haha alright. I may have set myself up for that one.” He spoke with a bit of hesitance so as to conceal his honest curiosity that kept him biting his tongue. ”So can I get a direct answer? Or am I left here to wonder where a devilish thing like you has been hanging out?”
She paused, but only for a quick moment. ”Here, there, I’ve just been going out a bit more often I guess.” Her words slipped out with such nonchalance as she took a longer sip of tea.
“With anyone in particular?”
“I— well, I suppose if that’s what you want to think. Just a friend.”
The creases on the corners of his eyes tightened and slid down to his lips, as a smile curled upward. He took on the same casual demeanor, knowing he had unraveled the beginning of a book never told.
“Ah, so that’s what you’ve been up to.” Leaned against the rail, one hand gripped onto the mug the other cupping it softly. He looked out as wisps of wind danced through his hair. ”He’s a good looking kid.”
Her arms halted mid-raise as she was about to take a sip, “Who is?”
“That boy you’ve been spending your time with,” he took a generous drink from his mug. ”Hah Mila, that’s the most emotion I’ve ever seen on your face. Don’t look so surprised, just because you’ve been out and about and shit doesn’t mean I’ve stopped using my balcony,” he said finally looking over at her.
He diverted his attention back. ”I’ve seen him walk you home once or twice after school, sometimes kind of loitering around to talk to you. You woke up earlier than I do for my morning run on the weekends, the girl who could usually be found slothing around till right before noon.” Pausing to take a drink, “must be one hell of a guy if he’s worth your time.”
“I don’t hate him.”
“Because,” he paused, “you like it yeah?”
A smile all too familiar found its way back on her soft face, “I don’t know, that’s kind of up to you to figure out on your own isn’t it?” Finally taking a sip of the cooling tea, “you’ve certainly given me your fair share of questions today haven’t you.”
“Just trying to figure a girl out,” he shrugged childishly.
“Admirable, but no quite there yet huh?”
Hearing the all too familiar tang in her words, he couldn’t help but let a wide grin spread across his face. “Hey. You can’t blame a guy for trying.”
They finished off what was left in their mugs in silence, quiet smiles on their faces for reasons to each their own.
She unlocks the front door, the grooves of her key pushing through and filling in every familiar crevice and uncovering every secret of the keyhole. The doorknob turns and Mila walks in.
One, then the other the sneakers are kicked off in quick-fashion. The scarf is pulled off over her head and hung on the nearby closet doorknob, her coat slips off her body and is gently thrown over a kitchen barstool.
Washed out from the glare of light hazing in from the balcony door, her frame can be seen floating on over off a tantalizing high from the happenings of her day. She plopped her body down on the cool faux leather couch, which may have been white at one point but now seemed to give off more of a dull ivory tone. Laying there she took in a heavy pocket of air hesitating, before exhaling all that had been and would be circling the canvases of her mind for the time being.
Just flashes, quick and fleeting. That same boy with his chestnut hair throwing smiles around and stealing laughs out of her.
Gradually these moments grow longer— arms bumping into one another rhythmically as her crisp steps contrasted with his heavy stride.
As they parted on the cement a block away from where she currently lay, they shared an innocent hug, for which Mila felt, if only for a brief moment his arm pulling her in
a littler closer
a little tighter
a little longer
than she had expected.
At the thought of that a smile crept into her eyes and sunk deep into her, spreading through her veins and seeping out of her slender body. It dripped off the couch and slowly as the day came to an end flooded that apartment of hers. And there she was Mila, no longer dipping her toes but sinking in her pleasure.
Left right, left right, the soft sounds of friction between the pavement scraping against the soles of her feet. Blurred imagery, the greenery secluded in the park deep within the confines of the grandiose concrete jungle rushes past the swift but careful movements of her feet as Mila advances deeper in.
Her feet follow one another harmoniously, landing directly in front of the other just as it should be done. Her mouth opened ever so slightly so as to slip a few slivers of the secrets that encompass her very being to breathe in the natural world. The strength of the bones, tendons, and muscles juxtapose the delicate and seeming fragility of the flesh that holds them all together. These hands that reach up, the beauty of the movements as soft as the cool breath of wind that shies in on the unsuspecting autumn. As she closes in on her destination a smile can be seen in the corners of her eyes before working its way towards the corners of her mouth.
Mila tightens her scarf to keep warm against the autumn wind. For even those of the warmest blood, must do what they can to survive the chill of the winter.
Silence and stillness has washed over the entirety of the flat this Saturday morning. Sunlight slips through the sheer muslin precariously draped over the window by a thin wooden pole. Makeshift, descriptive of almost all things in the bedroom, including its main inhabitant. The shot brings Mila into focus as one hears the soft crinkling of sheets beneath her as she rolls onto her back. Now the whole bed comes into view as if standing ominously by the doorframe.
Hand raised above her the other beneath her pillow, gently cradling her neck she releases a deep sigh as a kettle releases steam from its beckoning spout.
Mila turns her head just a slight movement towards her nightstand, a move almost gone by unnoticed without careful watch. She grabs hold of her phone, with a gentle touch it comes to life showing the time to be 9:37AM. But something else manages to capture her attention.
Sliding open her phone a message appears on screen with nothing but five words, ‘we’re hanging out today. yeah?’ A smile escapes across her face, but one cannot help but wonder whether it be a smile of joy, amusement, or perhaps both. Only time can tell.
With some effort she props herself up, weight heavy against her left arm. She reaches up and intertwines her fingers through the tight elastic keeping her hair up only to release the tension to allow strand after strand of hair fall over her shoulders in form of a ravenous waterfall.
In one swift movement Mila swings her slender legs over the bed as her toes react slowly to the cold touch of the hardwood floor. In nothing more, and nothing less than a loose white v-neck draped over her shoulders bearing only her collarbones the focus changes to the viewpoint bedside; she walks away casually in panties hugging the curves of her thin hips headed towards the bathroom across the hall.
To others a sashay confident and nonchalant alike, to Mila, just a walk down the hall.
Focused on her eyes, the sound of a door sliding shut, Mila’s eyes roll to her left.
“You’d think you were trying to throw a block party with your music blasting through, with your door wide open,” Ian said rubbing his soft eyes.
“We live in an apartment complex there is no block to party on.”
He let a small chuckle slip out, “My point exactly.”
Finally seeming to clear his mind of obvious sleep-deprivation he made his way over to the edge of the rail.
“So,” he paused resting his forearms against the cool iron, “saw you walking home the other day with a young male of what seemed to be the heterosexual type.”
Mila let laughter slip past her, “A working gaydar and security camera are you now?”
“I have the right to look down from my window if I very well please to. And the way he was looking at you, it’s not hard to tell the guy likes vagina.” Ian smirked towards her, eyebrows raised slightly.
“Wonderful choice of words,” she winced and smiled alike.
“So, is there anything you’d like to share with me?” The look of dead curiosity was beaming through his retinas, as his face remained open but impartial.
“Nothing you won’t know if it should get to that point.”
“And that’s supposed to mean?”
She turned and gave that familiar smile, injected and overdosed with indifference and mischief, “Whatever you want it to mean.”
Ian turned as a smile spread across his face, he sighed in momentary defeat.
From the inside looking out. Muffled sounds of metal hitting metal as Mila pushes in her key and turns, unlocking the door to her place of open recluse. Leaning against the wall of her foyer she kicks off her shoes to the far corner by the edge of the door. Walking in, steps heavy with the repetition of school seeping beneath her feet, she still manages to look graceful.
Her backpack slips off of her shoulder landing on the floor with an ominous thud. Without looking up she tosses her landyard onto the counter, keys trembling with the sound like that of a custodial ring of keys.
A close up of her stereo system comes into focus; her hand is seen reaching for the dial as music begins to spill out louder and louder with the revelations of her fingers wrapped around the dial. Music blazing across the rooms filling her flat with sound her silhouette is seen going towards the balcony as she slides open the door and steps out…
The image focuses on her iPod as she selects a song, the view shifts up to the point of view matching Mila’s as she lifts her head up. A little boy is seated beside his mother as he watches Mila admiringly with eyes beaming with innocence, curiosity, kindness. The view abruptly switches to Mila sitting there. She offers the boy a weak smile before looking back down at her fidgeting feet. She is sitting on the bus, on her way home.
You can see the bus halt gingerly to a stop a block away from her flat. As she gets off all you see is her turn to her right as she begins the awaited journey back home.
Again the focus changes to the image of her footsteps as she walks alone; as quiet and sly as a fox in a forest blanketed over with snow, but with the confidence of a lioness with its glistening gold coat of fur.
These images, or rather glimpses of the past few days come up again. Blurred in memory like an old film roll, but still giving you enough to know what is going on in that boggled mind of hers. Repeating thoughts of short conversations with that sandy-haired boy she knows so well; Aidan. That toothy grin managing to release from its cage a smile of her own. More glimpses between the two, interacting, just conversing, a small touch of her arm.
All of this coinciding with the rhythmic pattern of her footsteps, walking along to the beat of the song being injecting into her body through her headphones. The beat, her thoughts, her steps, the glimpses, all resonating in sync within her.
Ian steps out onto his own balcony in his usual attire of slum. Turning his head to his left Mila comes into focus sitting in her chair with her feet up on the rail, cautiously sipping her morning tea.
“Beat me to it. Up before me for once,” he called over hands in his flannel pockets.
“I’m always up before you,” she said looking over only after she took a quick sip of her cooling tea. “No coffee this morning?”
“Oh don’t worry, it’s brewing as we speak.” His eyes were heavy with the lack of sleep he failed to acquire.
“Not worried, just curious.”
“A curious Mila? What a surprise, it’s rare to see you curious about others nonetheless me,” he said with that crooked grin of his. Resembling a child holding back a fit of laughter in the most serious of times.
“I have my moments,” she lingered, a look of hidden amusement written across her face, “but it’s nothing to get accustomed to.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” He smiled and there they stayed in silence for the remainder of the morning.
The faint sound of an alarm rings as the sudden image of Mila’s eyes slowly opening come into view. The view spans out to the image of her room as you can see Mila lying casually and gracefully atop her bed, almost as though she is floating just above it. Her hand reaches for her phone to turn off the alarm, all with her eyes fixated softly on the ceiling above. In the silence she lies there a while longer, taking in the purity of the morning, if only for that moment.
Hot water falls into her mug like a stream of lava clear from the heavens as her tea leaves stain the water to match the earth’s natural tones.
Again the view shifts to the deep plunge of her cupid’s bow as her delicate lips near the edge of her mug, blowing steam forward in hectic patterns. She takes a sip from her tea and licks her lips clean feeling the warmth of her tongue. Clouds shrouding the sun as curtains drape over windowpanes the dull light shines through the thin glass separating her dwelling from the balcony.
The light creates a silhouette around her thin body as you see the outline of her legs nestled in skin tight jeans guide her body towards the door as her free hand slides it open; she steps out.
Tall and plain the glass door slides open smooth as it has been opened many a times before. The balcony before her, a concrete slab suspended in air with a thin minimalist iron rail coated in a layer of rust. The view below and beyond is nothing short of mundane. The familiar sound of footsteps from the sidewalk etched up close to the building from below, with nothing but faceless windows to long at before you. A cheap plastic chair sits out there in the left corner towards the door. Worn white and withered away from the countless hours she has sat there; thinking, staring, waiting.
Seemingly plain this balcony is, but yet it is the gateway that connects these two neighbors together in life and longing.
Nothing but glimpses, short sparks of her life of the world thrown at you in quick motions. Blurred not to hide or cast away any details but to give a nostalgic feel of remembrance as she reviews the happenings of her day.
Tall and fit but not overbearing, young but aged the boy walks over to her locker. Seemingly plain looking until he opens his mouth bearing his million watt smile strong enough to light the town. Canines grazing over his lips to match the friendly personality he links to. Short chestnut hair facing the different directions of the halls.
She looks up and smiles at him faintly, but genuinely.
Moments viewing her in her classes, class after class. She sits, she listens, she writes, she waits. Eagerly for the last bell without showing it.
As she walks away from school she whips around, one could assume she was called, though no sound is heard. She sees that same boy wave warmly; she gives the same faint smile and walks on.
All the while you hear a musical score play on and off like the flashing warning light of a crosswalk; on with the glimpse of her day off until the next one appears. Warning you that venturing too deep is not pleasant nor wanted by any.
These images flash before you as she walks through her flat door. Drops her bag nonchalantly onto the ground below her as she goes about making herself a cup of tea.
“So excited for school that you woke up early huh?” he questioned her with a sly sideways glance as a smirk lit his face.
“Not as excited as you were last night with Rachel,” she replied calmly as she took sips of tea laced with mischief.
His head lowered, grin spreading. He chuckled to himself, “Was I that loud?”
“The walls are thin,” she looked over.
“It’s pronounced Raquel and she’s a lovely girl; very fun.”
“How exotic,” she said flatly. “Thin, knockers, voluminous blonde hair?”
“Well in her defense it was dirty blonde.” He thought for a moment, “No pun intended.”
He managed to get a small laugh out of her, a small one, but an audible laugh nonetheless. “Of course not.”
“Never answered my first question; are you that excited that you got up an hour early for school?” By now he too had positioned himself against the balcony, back leaning on the cool iron rail.
“I did answer, but in the form of a new question. And no, I get up early to drink the tea that will keep me physically intact and mentally stable at school.”
“You’re a senior in high school, what is there to hate about school?” he annunciated his words to get his point across still with that childishly questioning tone.
“Time. Time at school is time wasted for me. To me.”
Twisting his body he rested his forearms on the flat iron rail, now facing out toward the outside as she was. “Whatever you say Mila.”
“Morning neighbor,” he said aloud, a thin smile resting on his lips in recognition.
Thin but sturdy he stood on his balcony to the right of her own. Short brown hair as dark as the coffee beans ground and brewed in his mug. Casual he was, as most men his age are in sweats and a tee. A sloth floating about on the clouds high above.
His face is young and cheerful, only to mask the underlying wisdom that it holds. But as his familiar smile cracks his face into a spur of wrinkles and creases framing the corners of his eyes and mouth. A smile that turns the face of a boy into the face of a man living in the happiness of a child.
Feet planted into the concrete body faced forward towards the world, he stands there. One hand in his pocket the other periodically raising his mug to his thin lips. He takes quick sips but lets the taste and aroma linger as he brings his lips in after each intake.
She glances over as her mouth opens just a slight only to close again in a small smirk.
Slender but surely not lanky and little curves to show for. With raven hair just falling loosely a few inches below her shoulders. Every move she makes is swift and smooth as a dancer glides through the mirrored images like mercury. But behind each movement and word is grit. Tension within her building high in some twisted Shangri-La.
Soft and gentle lips always stained a light pink like the peonies she remembers so vividly from her childhood. Doe like eyes but without life to fill them to the brim, instead they gaze and observe impartial yet curious, cautiously delirious. A pinch of lust is mixed into the cauldron as her dark brown irises bore holes in your heart without any emotion attached.
Delicate hands on the outside she never grips but rather grasps with beauty as her body slides through her flat, the halls, the streets. Filtering through the people she sees as she slips past them all without touching a single body, nor a soul. It comes from learning to keep light on her feet, walking alone at night one does not want to bring attention in their direction.
Always put together but never polished, in a tousled state but never slum. She sips her tea on her balcony day after day.
We open up the scene with some generic new era pop-folk acoustic song. You see nothing but the foot of her bed, with her bed skirt draping over onto the floor in stiff wrinkles. The alarm of her phone rings, you see her feet swing over the bed with trails of moving sheets and soft pillows ringing in your ears.
As she walks out of her bedroom you only see her feet gliding off into the hallway, smooth against the hardwood floors. Feet on tile, you hear her brushing her teeth; brush gargle spit repeat. A new set of tile grace the ground below her as droplets of water penetrate the world around her from the head of her shower. You see nothing of her slim curves, back dimples, thin hair forming on her back and encircling her neck in wet clumps. Nothing but her feet.
Sounds of hangers clicking and running against one another as she finds what she needs for her ensemble that day, something to blend in seamlessly with her mood as the sky meets the world at the horizon. She gets dressed you see as she slips on a pair of socks, worn and lint ridden.
Her delicate hands go to grab her cup of morning tea from her plain white mug; as she strides over gracefully towards the balcony just beyond her. This is the first you see of her hands, or any other part of her; but just the hands, nothing else. Back to her feet as she reaches the balcony door she pushes it open and takes a step to the outside and grips the hard concrete with nothing but thin woven cotton keeping her toes from the wind’s harsh caress.
All the while the song plays softly in the background, close to inaudible yet endlessly resonating in your mind.
Viewed from the balcony you see her feet come towards the edge as the angle rises to see a young adolescent girl lean against the rail and take the first sip of the day from her mug. A door slides open to her right, and she turns…