Quentin Paquette and Lynne Heiser

Lynne Heiser

Inspiration Piece

By the Window — Quentin Paquette


“Where are you coming back from?”
Watching the dawn break.
(Sorry, by the way.  I thought for sure you’d be asleep for at least a couple more hours.  And I tried to be quiet coming back in.
“You were quiet, I just happened to be turning over as the door opened.  I pretended to be asleep to see you in your tumble-down morning-after look.”
What’s that?
“Everything wrinkled, shoes loose, crazy hair,…”
Not that morning, I had a hat on.
“You could still tell it was crazy underneath.”
So, I looked like a wreck?
“Oh, no, not at all.  But you did look like you might’ve stayed in bed.”)
“Aren’t you exhausted?  I don’t know what time we got in, but I know it was late.”
I was up, thought it might be interesting.
“Was it?”
Hmm,… not super.  The walk and the cold air helped my head though. 
I lift the book from the nightstand and collapse in the couch.  I was right, my head does feel better, merely tired.  I read the same paragraph two and a half times, and then we’re both back asleep.

The shower’s running, the steam escaping through the bathroom door.  I work to dislodge the book from under me on the couch and try to casually toss it back on the nightstand.  It lands well short.  The nightstand clock says 8:05.  The big bed is piled high with pillows and a comforter.  The wooden sea-chest at the foot of the bed has our bags on top of it, and your clothes from yesterday.  There’s an overstuffed armchair and ottoman over by the window, and a big carved wardrobe and dresser.  The mirror on top of the dresser rolls its eyes at even the thought of my asking who the fairest might be.  And then in the mirror I see the railing behind me.  It belongs to a spiral staircase up into a loft.  I wonder what this costs in-season, and I can’t believe I actually talked my way into a discount.
(“Yeah, how did that happen?”
I came in to check the rates, and the person ahead of me in line was kind of a self-important jerk, and I made some joke about it when I got up to the clerk.  We chatted for a while before I got around to asking about rooms, and she said they had openings throughout the inn, and I said I could be convinced to help them out with that so long as it didn’t cost too much.
“You did not say that.”
Well, words to that effect.  I meant it as a joke, but then she cut me a deal.
“Oh yeah, I’ll bet she did.”
Oh, come on, it wasn’t like that.)

The knock at the door actually makes me jump.  I open the door to a cart full of rolls and biscuits, and a carafe.  Is it possible I could get another of these?  It’s probably a big coffee morning in this room today. /’Already taken care of.’/  And, reaching under the tablecloth of the cart he produces a second carafe, which I accept thankfully, putting it down on the loft stairs while I get out a tip for him.  A big tip.  With this much coffee, and my brain’s current inability to maintain a distraction, I should probably write something.  I root around in the backpack to get my notebook, and tuck it under my arm to lift the tray and carry it up the stairs.

The loft has a writing desk, the chair has its back turned to an arched window.  I put the tray down on the floor at the top of the stairs, I distribute the first carafe and cup on the desk with the cream, the other set  I’ll bring with me to sit on the carpet under the window.  A couple of maple-y or cinnamon-y things in my mouth (I left the peach Danish for you, and the blackberry one.  “That’s perfect.”) , I crouch down to place the carafe and cup on the carpet.  Don’t spill, don’t spill, don’t spill, and a commanding point of the finger ought to do the trick.  Let myself crumple down to the floor and sit, bent knees pushing my back up against the wall to stretch up tall.  Argh.  Sternum makes a pop.  The patterns on the carpet remind me of gyri, and make me think of memory.  I place the carafe at one junction, the cup at another, whether to stimulate or to inhibit a connection I cannot say.  Uh-oh, left the notebook just out of reach.  Stretch to scratch it close enough to pick up and open up on my knees.  Then I uncap the pen to threaten the page while I take a sip.  The sun has risen high enough that it fills the panes and the light dazzles me and warms my eyelids and loosens the scales on the backs of my eyeballs.  Something tries to occur to me, but it’s only a feeling, without a character or setting to carry it.  I should try to remember how that seemed, and find a story for it.  I turn back inside the front cover and write In the Window at the bottom of the list.  The heading is Don’t Forget and it includes Frick, Work Site Surprise, and Pumpkins, all not yet started, but none of which have been forgotten.  There’s also a Blake?,  which was right to have included a question mark, because when I read it to myself now, my intonation rises at the end.  That could take a while to reconstruct.  I realize I’m only stalling, and I turn back to what I meant to work on, and reread what’s there, and close my eyes again.

“Hey!  Are you up there?”
“And, also importantly, is the coffee up there?”
Well, yeah.  But you know what we haven’t got any of up here?
Pillows.  You’d better bring the ones from the bed, and the ones from the couch and chairs.
“Really, just those?  You don’t think I should bring the seat cushions from the chairs?”
Please.  Don’t be ridiculous.  Of course I thought that and omitted it.
“Here are the pillows, where do you want them?”
Just all over the floor here.  I think this could be a good place to work today.  If I can ever get unstuck.
“What are you stuck on?”
I don’t know what it’s about.  I know what happened the day before, and I know what’s happening this day, but I don’t know what it’s about.
“Maybe you should just keep writing it down, and let it show you.”
Well, that’s essentially what I am doing. 
(I thought about asking Ane Brun, but this is the Miles river, not the Fyris.  And she’s not that specific anyway.
“Hey, we ever going to end up in Uppsala?”
You mean Upps, Upps, Uppsala?  Maybe.  August?
“As in Strindberg?”
No, as in the month, but: No matter how far we travel, the memories will always follow in the baggage car.
“Swede-y pie.”)

A couple of cups later, I’m starting to get too warm.  I wonder if,… yeah, it looks like,… yep, the window opens.
“I was just going to ask you if that worked.”
Your every wish…
(“What am I wishing for now?”
A few more lines?
“I don’t think it would hurt, but no, that’s not it.”
That it’s time for a new adventure.
“Every day.”
Let me just look at this day a little longer.)
It’s the first spring-feeling day.  It smells good, like the ground is stirring and damp.  The still-cold air has stopped trying to grasp and chill.  The sun seems a little brighter, and its light is warmer.  I know it won’t last, next week it’ll be freezing again, but I’ll remember this and be confident of the coming change of season.  It’s these days that fool me into getting out the seed catalogues, planning the garden, starting the tomatoes in the basement under fluorescent lights.  Too early, they will be tall and leggy before the last frost, and not many of them will survive the transplant.  Good thing I’m not at home to be suckered by it this year.  As comfortable as it is here, it would be rude to stay in and ignore the day’s invitation.
We should head out for a while, walk through town.
“Aren’t you afraid to run into someone who recognizes us from last night?  Maybe we oughtta get our stories straight first.”
I’m not sure I remember all of them, were we supposed to be friends of the groom?
“We might as well have been, the way you let him beat you at pool.  We hadn’t had the table that long.”
Seemed like the thing to do.  Anyway, anyone we talked to at that reception is going to have a harder time remembering than we do.
“Let me read what you’ve got there first?”
I’ll read it to you…

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