Fiction: Energy Immortal: The Shape of Fabric Through the Window
By Cecilia Kennedy
The curtains blow, and the fabric falls in violent folds, even though the windows aren’t open. Through the fabric, shapes emerge, bending and pulling, like the legs of a dancer or runner, poking through, the folds stretching in wrinkles and unsettling lines.
I’d watched the way the fabric moved when she ran past my window, every fiber taut, Lycra pants creased, ever so slightly, and I never saw a flaw. Each stride was perfect. The shirt only loosened around the edges and bottom in neat corners, the petals of flowers caught in an updraft. It seemed the wind only blew in one direction: towards her, but she took it on, full force, leaving hardly a flutter of fabric behind.
I’d timed her, too. She probably ran at a 7:30 pace, for how many miles, I didn’t know, until I followed her on a bike down the block—so far behind, with my heavy coat, the pockets weighed down with loose quarters and keys. I was nothing but loose quarters, keys, and odds and ends, but she—she was lyrical fabric, slicing through the wind, kite ribbons against a sidewalk sky.
Along the way, I’d hide my bike in an alley and clock her going by at 7:29 or 7:30, the pace pretty much constant, not a bead of sweat on her forehead. I must have followed her four or five miles a day. And then, when I’d go home, I’d slip back over to my window and watch again, the people below me, passing, their clothes bunching up every which way. Then, she’d walk by in sleek suits and heels—all dressed up for work.
One day, I followed her as she walked to work, my odds and ends jingling loudly, but she didn’t jingle. She click-clacked smoothly along such uneven surfaces, walking at a brisk pace with that leftover energy from her run. How she still had any left, I didn’t know.
Inside the expansive building, with the glass windows and towers, I took a separate elevator, my pockets still full, still bulging. I followed her to the eleventh floor where she walked into a boardroom, placed her briefcase on the table, opened it, and began to speak, angry with every executive in her audience. Tears of arrogance made dim by betrayal, brimmed in some of their eyes, but most looked defiantly bored. After five minutes, I’d seen enough. When I went back outside, I spilled my pockets, let the coins fall like silver streams that chipped the concrete.
That evening, I went to the pawn shop, to see if there was anything I’d like to have—anything that might strike me, but on the way there, I passed a dance studio, and I saw her in it, through the glass window. She wore a long dance dress and yoga pants, perfecting her steps, her knees poking out through the fabric, which responded by billowing in waves—the fabric taking the volume of her leg, and I knew that’s how I’d always remember her.
When I got to the pawn shop, I saw something silver, something in a 9 mm. And I slid it inside my pocket, the seams stretching, pulling at my neck. And when she came out of the studio, she looked lighter than ever, and I decided it wasn’t fair to have so much leftover energy to spend at the end of the day.
The last thing I remember is the way her dance skirt lifted, shifting in the wind before I took the weight of the pistol out of my pocket and transferred its energy into hers, lead meeting flesh, the thud of a body on the sidewalk, the drapery of the dress, flowing like dark liquid.
When I made it home, I sat by the window, already missing the way she’d run past. I closed the curtains, locked every door, and realized I wouldn’t be able to look out that window anymore, if I didn’t want anyone to see me. I’d have to stay here, hidden. But though the wind doesn’t blow, the curtains move, the way she did. And I know she’s here, kicking through the curtains, bending and twisting, all the energy still flowing, accusing, in ribbons and creases, pointing in my direction.
Cecilia Kennedy (she/her) taught English and Spanish courses in Ohio for over 20 years before moving to Washington state with her family. Since 2017, she has written and published short stories in journals, magazines, and anthologies online and in print in the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland. The Places We Haunt is her first short story collection. She is also an editor for Flash Fiction Magazine and Running Wild Press, an adult beverages columnist for The Daily Drunk, and writes a weekly humor blog