The Two-Way Window
by Mark Joseph Kevlock
“Don’t look out the window,” Crystos said.
“Why not, dear?” Mynea said.
“They’re tearing down the world again.”
“I just don’t like for you to watch.”
“I appreciate that,” Mynea said, “but it really doesn’t bother me.”
“Well, it bothers me,” Crystos said. “Always has.” He turned away from the only window they had and made the interior of the house his world again.
“It isn’t so bad,” Mynea said. “We’ve been happy, haven’t we?”
“We’ve been prisoners. All our life, prisoners.”
Mynea tried to ignore this latest relapse. They did no good, after all, did they? Neither for Crystos nor herself.
“Why don’t we play a game?” Mynea said. “Or listen to music?”
“I can’t do anything,” Crystos said, “with them out there, tearing the world apart. You know that.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Well then don’t ask me.”
“Yes, dear. I’m sorry.”
Crystos went back to the window. He watched the men, men like himself, taking apart the background and scenery. They kept changing it without permission. They never asked what Crystos or what Mynea wanted to see. They did it strictly for the audiences that came.
“I’m so sick of performing,” Crystos said. “I perform whether I want to or not. Just standing here, doing nothing at all, I’m still giving them a show.”
“Crystos, let’s go on with our life. It does no good to concentrate on things we cannot change.”
“Leave me alone.”
“I can’t leave you alone. We’re in this place together. We can’t escape. They’ll never let us go. All we have is each other.”
He wanted to tell her to shut up. He even thought about striking her, his beautiful wife. What had he become? “Mynea, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I got us into this.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Mynea said. “You were an explorer. So was I. We toured the universe together. Weren’t those happy times?”
“I don’t think about those days,” Crystos said. “That life for us is over. How can you stay so optimistic in the face of this?” Crystos banged his fist against the glass in the same spot he always did. A thousand blows — ten thousand — and there was not a crack, nor a smudge nor smear. A perfect prison with tailor-made accommodations.
“What is it this time, dear?” Mynea sought to distract him. “What are they putting up out there?”
“It looks like a cityscape at twilight. Futuristic. Geometric shapes pleasing to the eye. They’ve got us on some alien world with twin moons filling the sky.”
“It sounds romantic,” Mynea said. “Why won’t you let me look, just for a moment?”
“What good will it do? It isn’t real. It isn’t even pretend, because we’re not the ones doing the pretending.”
“I’m coming over,” Mynea said. “I’m coming over to look.”
Crystos drew the curtain. They had that, at least. They had privacy when they wanted it. But it didn’t last. The window was there, taunting them. They could ignore it for a long time. But eventually they had to look out. And others had to look in.
“Why don’t we just kill ourselves?” Crystos said. “Why do we go on living like this?”
“It isn’t really so bad. It’s like a sort of retirement. We get to be together. We get to be in love. We don’t have to worry about food or shelter, heat or cold. It’s really very nice. We have all that we need.”
“We don’t,” Crystos said. “We don’t have freedom.”
“Forgive me, dear, but freedom is just a word. An intellectual concept. Everyone builds their own cages. Everyone lives in them. Sometimes they change. Sometimes they don’t. It just so happens that, in our case, someone else has built the cage for us. But what, really, is the difference?”
Crystos thought to bang his head, this time, against the glass. “The difference is... I can’t get out! We’re trapped. We’re zoo specimens on display. How long can we stand it? Why don’t they let us go or kill us and be done with it? What have we done to deserve such a fate?”
Mynea stood her ground against her husband’s torrent of rage and grief. He did not endure captivity as well as she. He raged. He grieved. But he always got over it.
“Let me see the cityscape, Crystos. It will make us both feel better. You know it will.”
“Who wants to feel better? Who wants to feel anything at all?”
Mynea turned down the lights inside their home. She came to the window to stand.
“They’ll be out there soon,” Crystos said. “The curious. The children. Young couples. Old men with nothing better to do. The same characters all the time. They study us. Maybe they feel sorry for us. Then they go back to their lives. As long as we’re here when they need us... to amuse them.”
Mynea listened, as she always did. But she didn’t hear the words anymore. The words were always the same. Variations on a theme. She and Crystos weren’t ever leaving this place.
“Draw the curtain back,” Mynea said. “Show me what they’ve given us, dear.”
Crystos drew the curtain. Mynea gazed out the window. There were buildings like silver towers and shiny sidewalks. Lights glowed in windows too numerous to count. Stars twinkled overhead. The moons were truly beautiful.
And all of it stood not twenty feet away, pasted upon an exterior backdrop.
“Oh, Crystos. It couldn’t be lovelier! Look at how nice it is!”
“Nice,” Crystos said, flatly.
“Come over here,” Mynea said. “Hold my hand. Feel my caring. Share life with me. Please, Crystos, do these things for me.”
Crystos came. He held. He felt. He shared. He surrendered. “I love you, Mynea.”
“And I love you, Crystos. For the rest of our life.”
Copyright © 2018 by Mark Joseph Kevlock