It was ajar. The door.
I saw her. Watching me. How many times had she seen it and not said anything? Done anything?
Later at dinner her silence persisted. It itched me. Like an old scab. Trying to heal. I couldn’t stop thinking about her eyes watching me. I thought they were wise eyes once. Her big green eyes, the colour of that dirty swimming pool I saw on that movie. Remember? You saw it too.
A month later I packed up and left. There were no goodbyes. But she knew I was leaving, and she knew why. I took with me a change of clothes and the money. The money she saw me stealing. I got on the first bus that came my way and that’s where I lived for the next few weeks. From bus to bus. Taking me further and further away from her. Taking me further and further away from the green pool.
Life in the streets taught me what she didn’t. And luck struck me more than once.
It wasn’t until fifteen years later that I came back. By hot air balloon of all things. Nothing had changed in the place. The house was still a faded light blue. She still wore the same tawny shawl over her shoulders. No matter the season. Her eyes were still big balls of green. The only changed thing was me. She noticed the make-up on my face when I arrived. I could tell by the way she didn't speak. Her thoughts were loud and I could almost hear them judging me.
She gave me needle and thread like you give a hot beverage to a visitor. As welcome. I took them and we sat down outside. Even though I hadn’t knitted since I had left, my hands knew exactly what to do. We sat there in silence for a while. Knitting. Soon the neighbours joined. Brought their chairs and knitting kits out. We talked about nothing in particular. Someone made a joke I didn’t understand. She laughed so I laughed. No one asked why I had left. No one asked why I had come back.
I soon saw the familiar orange reflected on our window. Her window. It was time to go. I didn't want to stay for dinner. I didn't want to stay.
I waved them goodbye and hopped on my balloon. She watched as I floated in the air in my tiny basket. I looked down at her wishing I’d touched her wrinkled skin.