by Kyle SUNDBY

In the semitransparent black and white, she was vibrant, though not so much as she once was. Young Jimmy could not take his gaze from her. At thirteen, his fixation was as mysterious as the technology supplying his view.

This weeknight she is upstairs in her house across the street. She is rubbing her forehead and drinking from a wineglass. Her husband has not yet come home from his job in the city. The towel around her thinning hair is thick and plush. The wall of the house is solid and without windows. None of that matters to Jimmy. He sees want he wants to see and more. He has for a month, since returning from daily visits to his mailbox with a package addressed to him.

In that time he has watched her change. Her hair was once full. She makes more trips to the bathroom, kneeling in front of the toilet. Often, Jimmy sees her lying down on her bed, the sofa downstairs, and even on the floor. The more he watches, the less she appears her former self.

At times he thought of looking at something else. He did once and happened to spot his mother in the kitchen. He is ashamed by what he saw. There remained little else to do but watch her, across the street, getting sick and sicker.

When it is time for bed, Jimmy dives under his covers with his flashlight and comic books. From then until morning she is free from harm, though the damage is already irreversible. Jimmy flips through the comic books. He is getting too old for their stories and too old for the novelties sold on the back pages. What he had seen of her in the last month has matured him. It has aged her even more, but he does not know that.

He has read of superheroes and their powers but knows little of their effects on mortal humans. Once at the dentist he wondered about the heavy vest they put over his body when they wanted to take pictures of his mouth. But he forgot all about it once the drilling began.

He puts the glasses on the nightstand, where he can reach them in the morning. The lenses with swirling patterns are still aimed at her house. If he cranes his neck just so, he can still see through them, the wall of her house, her bathrobe, and her body.

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