The window is streaked with rain. The sky is grey, and the apartment is filled with a pale light. He stares at the window, for a long time, just watching the people in the city below. Yes, the city is below him. He may live there, but he is not part of it.
Then, not so much with resolve as with a sense of boredom he puts on a jacket and leaves the room, descends through the building, taking the stairs not the elevator, as he always does.
He emerges into the street. The rain is really coming down now. He doesn’t care. He turns right and begins to walk down the sidewalk, passing other people, hurrying past him on their way home, or to work. The rain streams through his hair, but he is undisturbed. He looks up at the side of a building on the other side of the street, the rain coursing down it in sheets. It looks like a giant mirror, reflecting the sky and the other buildings, making each side of the street a glimpse into infinity.
He bumps into a woman, who was attempting to shelter beneath a magazine. She drops an armful of belongings. Silently she begins to pick up her purse and all the other things women carry on rainy days. He is surprised that she does not say anything, ask him to watch where he’s going, that sort of thing. Eventually she gets everything together, and stands up, giving him a look understanding, a look that says long deep things about how humanity is built on companionship, and then leaves, fading away slowly into the white haze that makes up the whole city.
He enters a café he knows of. It’s early November, and cold. The man behind the counter knows him, and knows what he’ll have. The coffee is already almost done by the time he reaches the counter. He hands over the money, smiles in thanks, and sits down by a window. Everyone else in the café is reading, or thinking, or listening to music on headphones. The only sound he can hear is the rain hitting the window, which is very much like the window in his apartment, only bigger, and thicker, he thinks.
When he’s done the coffee he steps back outside. The rain feels like ice after the warm café. He crosses the street and walks back toward the direction he came from, looking in shop windows and pondering the thought of buying an umbrella. He passes one store in particular that causes him to stop for a moment. It is a store that sells toys, old ones, some beautifully painted and crafted. He looks in for a moment, and then continues.
When he sees his building across the street, he looks up again. He sees the same effect he saw earlier, that of a huge mirror spanning the street. He sighs, and is about to cross the street and go inside, when he stops. He slowly raises his head. The building is not reflecting the street and the other buildings, but something else entirely. He sees an ocean, he sees a frozen waste, he sees a night sky with unfamiliar constellations. He turns around, half expecting to see the city gone and that he is alone in a strange place.
The other buildings are still there, and when he turns around again the vision is gone. Bewildered, and yet somehow not as surprised as he should be, he quickly crosses the street and enters his building. He takes the elevator upstairs.
When he reaches his apartment he returns to the window. But this time he looks through it differently, the way one looks at a television set: interested, but not completely convinced. “I think it’s going to rain for a long time”, he says, and draws the blinds.
Music: Comptine d'un autre ete, l'apres-midi (Rhyme of Another Summer), by Yann Tiersen