My life is a rather simple one. I sit in front of my computer (some work, some play) most of the day and usually order in when I am hungry. I go out only when I feel I absolutely need to.
I don’t boast of many friends and the only living member of my family is an estranged sister I haven’t spoken to in at least seven years.
A fling here, a fling there, but I am single.
This is how I can identify a lonely person even from a distance without knowing much about them.
I am one.
And then one day, for no particular reason, I started noticing him.
It began when one morning I was sipping coffee and just loitering about my living room window, assessing the day as I examined the road below.
It was a lovely morning, the kind that energizes you and fills you with hope and happiness for no particular reason. There was a light yet intoxicating scent in the air. The sunlight felt like a warm, safe cocoon and I was just glad to be.
This was when I spotted another figure standing in front of the cafe on the opposite side of the road. He was highlighted in a spot of warm sunlight, his face turned up, eyes closed.
I felt an instant connection to this person. I felt as if a bridge had built itself between two islands.
From that day on, every morning I would stand at my window at the same time, expecting to see him.
He never failed me. He was always there.
He never looked up at my window, never acknowledged me…you could almost believe he did not know I was there, except I felt he knew.
Every day we met… him outside the café, his face turned up towards the sun, his eyes closed, and me up in my living room window, a coffee mug in my hand, watching him.
I began to feel like we had just shared a coffee together, like we had held a silent conversation over our drinks which was far more powerful than words.
Then, one day, some two months into our ‘relationship’, I saw him in a completely different mood. He rushed out of the café, frantic, looking this way and that, raking his hair with his fingers, as if trying to locate someone he had lost sight of, as if trying to understand something. He left soon after.
That sight put me off balance. I was so used to seeing the calm side of him. It had become imperative to my balmy mornings.
That day, I felt agitated, as if his agitation had crossed the bridge that existed between us and taken over my being. I could not work. I could not sleep. I could hardly sit still.
That afternoon, as I sat in front of my TV, shuffling through channels and not really watching anything, I heard a terrible screech and crash from the road below. The sirens followed soon.
It was an accident. They happen sometimes on this road. I had been witness to two in my time here. They are unfortunate but they usually don’t rattle me much. However, that day, my already anxious mind felt like it had been jolted out of its place.
It was one of those days.
I saw in the news the next day that a little girl had died while her father had sustained major injuries.
My friend did not visit the café for the next few days.
I resumed my routine soon enough. The memories of that day vanished quickly. In a week, my friend and I got back to our meetings. He was calm again. He looked almost happy and I was content to see that.
Almost three weeks must have passed without incident. Then one morning, he once again rushed out of the café in a panic, looking right and left, running his fingers through his hair.
But this time, he did not leave. He did something he had never done before.
He looked up at my window and saw me. For the first time, he looked right at me for a long, long moment.
I felt frozen to the spot. Then, he left.
That was the day I decided I should go downstairs and meet him.
The next day, I dressed and went to the café, expecting to see him. I spotted him in a corner. He looked up when he saw me. I took the seat opposite him, as if we had done this all the time.
“How are you today?” I asked.
“Better” he said.
“He came to show me again”
“Who came? And showed you what?”
“You wouldn’t believe it” he said, shaking his head from side to side.
“I wouldn’t?” I asked him incredulously, thinking of how we had become friends.
He considered it for a moment.
“Well, maybe you would” he conceded.
And he told me.
“There is a man. He comes to see me sometimes. He is a tall man, wears a cap with a rather long visor. It almost obliterates his features in shadow, but his eyes… you could not miss his eyes even if you wanted to. The whites are so yellow, they are almost fluorescent. You would imagine he has jaundice or something…” he trailed off, looking through the glass at the road outside.
“And… what does he show you?”
“People” he said after some time.
There was a pause where he sipped his coffee and I waited for more.
“He shows me people”
I nodded, although I wasn’t sure I understood just yet.
“Remember that accident where that little girl died and her father was hospitalized?”
I nodded. I did remember. I also remembered he had been very agitated that morning when he left the café.
“Yellow eyes… that’s what I call the man… he showed me something that morning”
“What?” I was beginning to get impatient.
“I saw him walking around with a child in a pink skirt… such an innocent face… she was giggling at something he said… her hair bouncing on her shoulders as she skipped along… and then, that afternoon, she was dead”
I felt numb. Was he suggesting he had prior knowledge of events? Now, I am not someone who shuns the idea, but even to me, it seemed a little too much. I tried to rationalize it.
“I saw you were in a panic yesterday too. Did you see the man again?” I asked, opening an inquiry.
“I did” he nodded.
“And did he show you something? Or someone?”
“He did. He pointed at someone”
“And did something bad happen to them?”
“No. Not yet…”
“Well, there you have it! Maybe the man isn’t right about everything after all” I smiled.
“Maybe” he said, but did not smile.
“Alright, you’re not convinced. Let me try again. Tell me, who did he point at?”
He paused, considered me intently, and then went on.
“You” he said.
My mouth fluttered open and shut as if I were gasping for air like a fish pulled out of the water.
“He pointed at you. I rushed out to see where he had vanished off to and what he was pointing at. I could not locate him but I saw you, standing in that window with a mug in your hand”
“I see…” that was all I could manage just then.
And even though this entire ‘premonition’ thing sounded like nonsense, I could not shake off that feeling of dread.
He reached for my hand and held it for one long moment, giving me strength. I held it tight, not knowing why.
“All I am saying is… please be careful” he said.
“Of what?” I asked.
“I don’t know” he sighed and shook his head.
I went back home after that and for no reason, I was extra careful about everything. I checked and re-checked the gas knobs, never used my hair dryer in the bathroom fearing an electric shock, started cooking my own meals lest I caught an infection from restaurant food… It was unnerving and exhausting.
Also, I let go of my morning routine. I never stood in the window to watch my friend.
A whole week passed without incident and frankly, by this point, the whole idea of me being in danger was beginning to feel rather silly. I began to relax more and more with each passing day.
By the end of two weeks, I was completely over it.
And here I am today… at my window again. It’s a lovely morning. The sun is warm and there is a scent on the breeze that lightly ruffles my hair. I inhale deeply. I am glad to be alive and well.
I see him walking out of the café, towards the road, tapping his phone screen. I think he will be glad to see me… see that I am still alive and well. Maybe that will ease his hallucinations, his fear of the yellow eyed man.
“Hey there!” I call out to him.
He has reached the edge of the road but is still tapping something on his phone.
“Hello!” I call out again.
He finally hears me and stops walking. He turns around to look at me. I wave. He waves back.
“Alive and well” I say.
He gives me a thumbs up as he begins to turn around to cross the road.
Just then, I hear a terrible thud.
A truck hit him.