Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cyril sat at the window of his apartment on Boulevard Saint Germain. It had begun to snow again, dampening the noise outside to a dull and muted resonance. Cyril chuckled to himself as he went through the past days’ events. He’d been watching Justine for some time. He’d first seen her a little over a year ago in the midst of her blooming pregnancy. It was around the time she moved into the office across the street. He was in the beginnings of his second novel, writing the synopsis to what would become just another dark tale of human suffering. It was what he knew best and, although his publisher was trying to persuade him to make the leap to a broader genre, Cyril had no such inclinations. His ambition, since an early age, was to become a great author. He wanted to write with the rawness of Steinbeck and Graham Greene, the passion of Zola and the elegance of Hemingway & Flaubert. He wrote, and re-wrote, perfecting his prose until there was little more to be perfected. Yet the audience remained small albeit receptive. A few obscure literary magazines and left-wing publications took up his work, often giving moderately positive critique. Someone compared him to a modern-day Maupassant, which was as close to his ambitions he would ever come.

He had kept tabs on Justine from the moment he first laid his eyes on the woman with the unruly, red curly hair. Two weeks later he had bought a pair of binoculars to trace her movements inside her office, which was directly opposite his own study. He would sit at his desk watching her morning rituals, lunches often taken at her computer and series of endless afternoon meetings at the round table that stood in a corner. Even though he wouldn’t admit his obsession with the red-haired woman on the other side of the street, he agreed to himself that his interest was probably beyond the borders of nonchalant curiosity and that which most people would consider healthy. But he would only go so far as to admit a certain fascination. One that could only be stilled by taking matters into his own hands.

But as often happens, fate intervened, as one day Justine did not show up to work. He put it down to her life having taken on the dimension of motherhood, and true to his perceptions, she arrived at work two months later, this time without the distinct signs of pregnancy. She looked sad.