The Open Window

Joseph Russo

Joseph Russo

The cool midnight breeze flowed from the moonlit sky, yet warmed the dimly lit room it filled.

"Did you leave the window open again?" he said.
"I've never opened the window to begin with," she said
"Well, it opened somehow..." he said inquisitively, unsubtly hinting that she opened it. 
"I never wanted it open," she said with a stern tone amplifying the sureness of her words.
"But you like it when it's open," he said. "Not a lot - never all the way. Just enough for the breeze to fill the room once over for the night"
"But I - don't like - when it gets cold," she said. "And definitely don't trust the window open when the wind is too strong."
"Exactly," he said. "You like the breeze enough to know it's still there, floating the curtains."
"So you're saying I opened it?" she said with a polite sarcasm.
"Obviously I opened it first," he said. "It was stuck when we got here and keeps sticking. But I keep it from shutting completely because you like it - just slightly ajar."
"Honestly, I don't know what I like," she said. "Sometimes..." She loses her words in thought with an empty gasp taking in place of typical eloquence.
"And you only open it in the middle of the night now," he objected. "Just when the air grows stale and you need that quiet blow for comfort."
"But it's not - OPEN - you know,"  she exclaimed coarsely, irritated by the discourse.
"Doubt you even knew it could open," he said. "But the fact is you enjoy it once in a while, to push it open more than I left it. But just not all the way." His last words added a hint of jocularity to the conversation, humored by the simple while aiming to diffuse the simple disconnect.
"So what if I opened it for a minute?" she said.
"Enjoying the evening breeze with you is... perfect," he said. "But you're scared of getting cold, so you shut the window as quickly as you opened it."
"And what's so wrong with that?" Her words grew hollow as she relented slightly from her firm contrarian position.
"You want to feel something, but you're afraid of getting cold without even feeling the chills," he said while collecting his words. "Why fight? When we could enjoy it every day... Just trust I'll keep you warm."
"And why would I trust you?" Her words pierced the conversation, harping a deep unspoken rift, old but not quite settled. Something that struck deep between them once before leaving a hollowness between them.
"Well, I can't make you trust me," he said, almost defeated, slowly and solemnly. He knew what little weight his words would have at that moment, while taking a long breath of thought.
"I didn't mean it like that," she said apologetically knowing her words triggered something much deeper than this contrite conversation warranted.
"Faith," he said concisely , as a matter of fact after a long pause.
"What?" she said, confused at his answer. "What are you talking about?"
"It's what I have," he said rhetorically. "Faith is believing when trust isn't there. Faith that if the window is wide open, with the air frostbitten, that we'll keep each other warm."
"Okay, so I shouldn't trust you?" she said, more confused, blood slightly pumping, resigned from compromise, with her mind now windowless and infused with emotion both good and bad.
"There's faith in my heart," he said with a genuine tone and notes of authenticity. "It's... an unflinching resolve; a belief in the implausible; and hope for the ‘happily ever after ending' in it all, always."

She was struck silent in thought, the window nothing than a metaphor.  The deep rooted yet thinly strained connection between them being indirectly challenged. The logic of their minds battled with the fractures of their hearts, comprehending every scar, every trauma, every eventuality of their lives that brought them here. His words were so perfectly placed they could tune a metronome. While her watering eyes opened to the softness of her soul.
"We're - really - not talking about the damn window anymore..." she said after a long pause, volume trailing, the chord struck.
"No, not really. But we can start with that," he said warmly as his hand lightly reached to her face, as if to pluck the right string for the first time since the breeze blew that night.
"You... know... why I'm scared," she barely uttered as her voice trembled while trying to control the emotions from boiling over.
"I... I'm... one minute," he mumbled, the coolness of his calm nature overcome, words out of reach, his eyes looking away to hide emotion. Edged to the brink of a dreaded feeling once more, opened by her vulnerable look.
"I'm right here," she said while assuredly acquainting his eyes to hers, feeling some vibrant pain that took over his consciousness, while the mere seconds seemed like hours as they both paused to caringly admire the contours of the face in front of them.
"You know it's funny..." he said without a hint of humor in his words. "Your eyes couldn't hide a thing if you wanted, while I can hold it all in..." He struggled digging the right vernacular from the crevices of his tempered heart, no poetic phrase or proper prose embodying his catharsis. "I can't - feel - this way knowing it's temporary... or broken... or... why can't we just leave the goddamn window open if you like it!" He exclaimed, falling back to the conversation's original protagonist, to avoid admitting more, unconvincingly misdirecting attention away from vulnerable words.
"There are some things I never want to feel, the ache, destruction..." her words also became harder to produce.
"We're so much alike we fear the same fucking things," he said, the typical daytime censor clearly gone, highlighting the similarity in their fears with tears. "And when I look at you, I see you like I've never seen anyone before. I see myself in a light no filter could remake. I hear the poetic symphony of life that Hollywood could never recreate... and I don't want the movie to end."
"Fuck, why did you have to do it?" she said, moved by his words while jabbing at the broken moment of trust with a slight blow of negative emotion.
"YOU had to do it?" he said immediately with a humorously calm retort.
"But, I told you..."
"That doesn't make it okay... You're so afraid that you retreat to safety and sureness. And yes, I'm not perfect and fuck up sometimes. And you pull back and assume the worst... protecting your deepest machinations."
"What does that word even mean?" she said in a teary humorous tone.
"Like, why... you are the way you are," he said as it was the obvious answer.
"But I clearly take risks - I'm not avoidant," she said, whipping a tear from her eye, postured confident in her latest statement.
"We're both smart people - we calculate," he said with a stillness. "No one wants our hearts ripped to shreds... we want... music. The sounds of our intersecting lives creating beautiful symphonies revered the world over. But we settle for the generic overproduced soundtracks of cliché and simplicity."
"Yea? And what's to say we have the right tune?" she said, moved by his genuine romanticism yet searching half-heartedly for a reason to have faith.
"Words flow into actions, experiences into memories, risks into joy," he said slowly, redirecting their conversational concerto. "We've grown into people we could have never imagined - broken, yet better. And we can start by trusting this stupid window being open." The words laced with his typical joking personality evaporated the air's tension.
"What... then..." she asked through a slight escape of laughter.
"We let the damn breeze flow in."

They sat there, tied together without touch, soothed by the lofty cool winds. As their voices dimmed, the evening music began to crescendo. The chorus of bustling trees, the percussion of distant thunder, the winds of turbulent storms, the horns of nearby trains, and the strings of rain dropping from the sky. For this was just the opening sonata, conducted by him, written by her.

Joe is a tech entrepreneur from Palm Beach Gardens who founded South Florida Tech Hub, 1909, and Emergency App in Downtown West Palm Beach.

He attended Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach and Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

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