Move-in day.  It was a chilly November morning.  My belongings all neatly boxed up and awaiting unpacking in my new home, on the 4th floor of a quaint, ivy-covered brick apartment building.  A new city, a new job, and a new place to call home.  Walking in and out as I moved my things in, I took in the surroundings and got the lay of the land.  Another apartment building sat just across the way, situated such that it didn’t obstruct my view of the beautiful landscape surrounding me, but also such that I could see what was going on next door. 

A few weeks passed, and I was getting well situated.  Most of the stuff was unpacked and put in its place.  I started to recognize people.  Décor was put up, shades on the windows, and the place was taking shape.  I was starting to develop a routine.  In the mornings, I grabbed a glass of juice and gazed out the window to see the view of the trees and lake nearby and get a weather check.  I liked my new place.  It was a sanctuary of normalcy outside the hustle of the city where I could forget about the pressures of my job. 

Our buildings were similar in construction, with small windows in the kitchen and sliding glass doors in the living rooms leading to outdoor balconies, where residents kept all kinds of things from bikes to grills.  We could all see in to one another’s places if the blinds were open.  If eyes met, we either quickly averted our gaze, or else acknowledged it genially. 

One Friday evening after work, I found myself in need of a drink.  I poured a scotch and stepped out on the balcony for some air to unwind.  As I gazed out at the sun setting on the lake, I sensed motion across the way and glanced over.  On the 3rd floor, straight across, I briefly saw a woman’s face in the small kitchen window before she disappeared.  In that moment I could see she was attractive.  I thought, hmmm.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for her.  Had she been looking at me?

The next morning, I went for a short run and returned home for breakfast.  I poured some milk on my cereal and glanced out the kitchen window.  Scanning around, I chanced to see her in her window.  She was unaware I was looking at her, and for the first time, I caught more than a glimpse.  She was truly beautiful.  I stepped out on the balcony but she disappeared.  Better luck next time.

As the days passed, I made more of an effort to catch a sighting of this woman, and for her to see me.  I noticed her blinds were almost never closed, and I never saw anyone else in her apartment but her.  I gathered she was unattached, and it encouraged me.  Then one evening, it happened.  Mutual eye contact.  In a split second, I had to decide how to handle it.  I quickly decided to give her a smile, not knowing how she might respond.  Some might interpret that as forward or weird, but I had to act.  Thankfully she smiled back and walked away.  Good first step.  I didn’t know it then, but it was the initiation of a unique and intense relationship, the likes of which I never imagined.

I found myself thinking about her and wondering where this might lead, and what my next move should be.  She seemed close to my age and I was deeply intrigued with the possibility of something more.  I made a mental note of the times I typically saw her.  Usually in the early evening or on the weekends. 

December was rolling in.  I put up some lights in my windows and a few decorations.  Almost as quickly as mine went up, some appeared in her windows.  Coincidence?  Or a signal?  I liked the deep blue color of her lights and found myself mesmerized watching them.  One night, as darkness set in and I was getting ready to shut down, I looked over and her apartment was dark except for the soft glow of those lights.  Just as I was getting ready to turn in, she stepped into the window.  Wearing only an opaque white negligee, she stood for a moment in the living room looking out, and glanced up at me without an ounce of apprehension.  Her figure cast the slightest reflection from the lights against her window, and it was a vision of feminine beauty.  Stunned, I managed to maintain my composure and smiled.  She gave me another smile, this time somewhat knowing, and we held our gaze for a few seconds.  She turned around and slowly slipped into the darkness of her apartment.  I caught the briefest glimpse of her lovely backside in that blue glow.  Wow!  Things had suddenly taken an interesting turn.  My mind raced with thoughts of her.  Was this a one-off?  Or would we do this again?  I was consumed with my thoughts and couldn’t sleep.  I found myself completely distracted at work.  I daydreamed about her.  I surmised she probably knew she had an admirer and might continue her show.

I thought I’d change things up a little and test the impact, so I bought some different lights for my exterior.  The next night I got home, and she too had changed her lights.  They were now pure white.  She was definitely communicating with me.  Her subtle yet incredibly bold behavior gripped my mind and I found myself overcome with anticipation of what she would do next.  I had to see her.  I stepped into the living room and looked out at the new lights for a while.  Her living room was dark, but suddenly a lamp came on and she emerged.  She wore even less this time.  Black stockings and a long pearl necklace that danced across her bare breasts.  Our eyes met, and we both knew we had something unspoken going between us.  She let me take in her simple but elegantly nude form for a moment and then disappeared again.  My mind was reeling.  What was to come of this?  And what were the odds that I would move in across from this fantasy lady?

She was so pretty and her body was so petite and sinewy, like a dancer’s.  She had an innocent face, yet there was a certain way she had of telling me there was a whole other side of her to be explored.  I wanted this woman, about whom I knew almost nothing.  My gut was telling me she was that rare combination of sweetness and eroticism, and who knew what other traits she had to share.  I wanted to approach her, but I also liked the mystery that was unfolding.  Might that be destroyed if we met?

I returned home Friday night, wiped out from the week’s work.  I just wanted to unwind.  I poured a beer and kicked back.  I cut the lights and turned on some music so the only light in the room was the ambient light of my stereo and my outdoor lights.  There’s nothing like listening to good music in the darkness.  Glancing out the window, I saw her lights come on.  Without the glare of my own lights, the view of her window intensified.  A moment later, she appeared in the window, this time fully attired.  Our eyes met and she gave me that knowing smile I had seen before.  I smiled.  She walked away.  I thought that would be it for the night.  I was wrong.  She returned and stood there a moment, and started seducing me.  It was as if the weekend allowed her more freedom to take her time with me.  She started with the top button of her blouse and slowly undid each one.  Turning her back to me, she pulled off her blouse and held it out to the side between her thumb and index finger, and dropped it at her feet.  With her back still toward me, she undid her pants button and zipper and slid out of her pants.  Turning around, she removed her bra and dropped it on the floor.  I watched wide-eyed as she slipped her fingers inside the waistband of her panties and pushed them to her ankles and stepped out of them.  What a show. 

But it was far from over.  Now nude, glowing in her white lights, she stepped back into the room and into an easy chair.  It was pretty dark, but I could see an outline of things.  Her head slowly fell back over the top of the chair, and she threw her legs over the arms.  I saw her lips part.  It was too dark to see everything, but I knew exactly what she was doing.  She was writhing in self-pleasure and it was incredible to behold.  This went on for about 10 minutes until I saw her body arch, and she sank back into the chair.  She went to bed. All I could do was let my mind dream about what I had just seen, as I closed my eyes and fantasized to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.  How perfect.

We continued to rendezvous in this manner regularly.  We grew into each other’s patterns and I knew when I could expect to see her.  Each time was a new and different experience.  She had an infinite repertoire.  It didn’t matter what she wore or what she did.  Every encounter was new, exciting and enchanting.  And every time, she made me want to know her.  Really know her.  I was spellbound.

But why me?  How did I have the fortune to move in across the way from this lady who so controlled my thoughts and who was so clearly enjoying being my own private fantasy girl?  The more I thought about it, the more questions I had.  If torture could be ecstasy, she was the instrument that defined it.  I didn’t know where this journey was headed, but I relished every moment.  She was doing me even when I couldn’t see her.

A light snow powdered the place.  I got up and did my morning routine.  I wanted to acknowledge my lady friend somehow.  I let my lights burn all day.  The place was pretty quiet and not much happening.  Although I had little to occupy me, friends called to say hi, and I had plenty of chores to do.  I picked up some groceries.  The day went by pretty quickly.  I wondered if she had gone somewhere, or if she’d be making herself known.  If she wasn’t here, where was she?  Who was she with?  All these weeks had passed and I still knew nothing about her.

In the early evening, I glanced across and noticed she too had hung up a few extras for me.  Some little red chili pepper lights, and some white icicle lights that she suspended from her balcony.  When had she done this and how had I missed it?  No matter.  It was there and it was for me.  Before dark, she came to the window, barefoot in regular clothes.  She and I saw each other.  She gave me a sweet smile, and retreated to her couch to read a book.  She was curled up and I wished I could be right there with her.

Some nights, she would just be the sweet girl across the way, and other nights she seemed to have an erotic, sensual side to her and would pose either in lingerie or semi-nude.  Sometimes it went beyond that too.  I never knew what to expect but no matter which side she showed, I enjoyed it.  She seemed to crave my attention, though why she chose me, I don’t know.  We learned to communicate with each other without a word.  I’d post images and objects in my windows, and she’d respond.  We had a definite thing going, but I still didn’t know what it was all about or where it was headed.

Our “communications” became a daily thing, and I worked hard to come up with new ways to “speak” to her.  Weeks and months passed and still we had never spoken, never exchanged numbers or anything.  Our connection was undeniable, but yet so distant.  I grew to have deep feelings for her.  One might think this incredibly strange.  How could I see this girl every day and not talk to her?  How could I care so deeply for someone I had never met?  But we had something unspoken and unspoiled, something I wanted to keep that way despite my desire to take it further.  It was beautifully simple yet complicated, blissful yet frustrating.

Springtime came and as the weather got warmer, I was out on my balcony more often, which made it easier for her to notice me and continue our interaction.  But she never came out to greet me.  We both clearly liked each other but there was mutual reluctance to break our boundaries.  Our attraction transcended physical attraction.  It was cosmic and unexplainable to anyone outside it.  Things continued at their normal pace for us.  We both looked forward to our daily meetings.

That summer, there were periods of time when I didn’t see her for several days.  I would grow very concerned over her absences.  But when she returned, as she always did, she always rewarded me for my waits.  Her smiles, her sensual ways and the occasional erotic private viewing kept me ever wanting more.  And strangely, just my acknowledgement of her presence was all she needed in return.  So I went out of my way to do just that.  Our evenings were magical with the simple pleasure of each other’s eyes upon us.  I wondered everything about her.  Her past, what she did for a living, if she was lonely, if she’d been hurt by someone, I wanted to know it all.  I felt trapped in a place where I was happy but wanted so badly to be truly with her.

The leaves were turning and the nights got shorter as fall moved in.  I’d been there almost a year.  She and I had gotten very tight despite our limited relationship.  Can you love someone you’ve never met?  I knew I could.  I think we both did.

One night, I settled in to the living room to relax.  Glancing over, I saw her on the couch, and her usual sparkle just wasn’t there.  Her entire demeanor was different.  Something was clearly troubling her.  She couldn’t even look at me.  I kept watching her but could not get her to look my way.  This was not normal and it hurt me that she hurt.  And not knowing why she hurt was even more painful.  Her pain was my pain.  She went off to bed and didn’t even acknowledge me that night.  I felt powerless to help her or find out what was troubling her.

The next few nights she was very attentive to me, and one night she gave me a show like none before it.  There was a torturously erotic striptease followed by acts of self-pleasure that gave me great pleasure to watch.  I wanted to know what was going through her mind as she drove herself to ecstasy.  After she was finished, she came to the window and looked at me for several minutes with an expression of what I would describe as apologetic grief.  I had not seen this look before.  Nor did I know how to interpret it.  Something was wrong.  She planted her hands on the window above her head and slowly ran them downward, as if to reach out to me for help.  Before I could respond, she ran off to the interior of her apartment.  I ached to know what was wrong and wished I knew what to do.  I went to bed but couldn’t sleep, my head spinning with concern for her and what this was all about.

The next morning I had to go to work early and left before the traffic got busy.  After arriving at work, I sat down at my desk to attack the day’s projects.  My focus was distracted by thoughts of my lady friend, and my productivity tanked.  She occupied my mind all day.  This was not a new phenomenon, but today it was more pronounced than ever before.  I couldn’t wait to leave the office and get home to see her.  The work day finally ended and I cut out a little earlier than usual.

I rushed home and entered my apartment and looked across the way to check in.  What I saw made my heart sink in my chest.  Her apartment was barren.  Cleaned out and vacant.  I could see that everything she previously had in both the kitchen and living room was gone.  I kept looking over in disbelief, not wanting to accept what I saw.  I thought surely she would have let me know.  But she was gone.  Now I understood everything I had witnessed for the past few weeks.  The unusual behavior, the crying, the absence.  She had to move, and today had been the day she had obviously been so sad about.  I sat down, and let it sink in that she was gone.  We had had a year that can’t adequately be described in words, and that only we two could understand.  I was devastated, and she must have been too.  My own heartbreak, coupled with what I knew she was experiencing, overwhelmed me.  I didn’t know where she had gone and had no way to find out.  So many unanswered questions.  Her departure was hard enough, but mixed in with it was the total mystery of this wonderful woman that I might never solve.  To the outsider, it might be hard to grasp that her exit was so painful for both of us when we hadn’t ever even met, but it was worse pain than I had experienced with some ladies I’d dated for even longer.  It can’t be explained or understood. 

The next several days were terrible.  I called in to work and told them I couldn’t come in.  I simply couldn’t think of anything but her.  My mind raced with so many thoughts I couldn’t recount them all.  I didn’t know what to think.  As easily as our relationship had evolved, it had ended.  Accepting that it was over was too difficult to deal with.  I had hoped we’d be close forever.  And she vanished like a ship in the night.

One day the mail arrived, and in it was a greeting card.  It had no return address and the postmark was garbled.  I slit it open.  It was one of those multi-purpose cards that had no defined message.  In female handwriting, it said “I’m sorry and I miss you.  I will never forget.  Love, Bella.  To be continued…”  Bella.  So that was her name.  A name as beautiful as she was. 

Somehow she had figured out who I was and what apartment I was in, and was able to get a communication to me.  In doing so, she had left me with even more questions than before.  Where was she?  Across town, across the state, on the opposite side of the country?  The envelope clearly had not come from overseas, so I could only narrow it down to the U.S.  Not very comforting, knowing she was out there and not being able to communicate with her.  Why hadn’t she put her new address on it?  What did “To be continued” mean?  Why didn’t she give me her full name? 

The days passed and I thought of her constantly, wondering what she was doing and why she had moved.  What was happening in her life, whether she was OK, whether she had thought of me.  These and many other questions ate at me.  I could only hope that one day I would hear from her and somehow start up our relationship again. 

For now, she is a sweet memory.  One of the best years of my life with someone I cared deeply for, yet never got to know.  Intimate, without a word or a touch.  Every day, the mystery vexes me and the questions run through my head.  I sit and wonder when, and how, I will hear from her again.  But I know I will.

And so I wait, for the girl in the window.