Aided and Abetted by Shades.
According to semiotics, it is said that windows are a spiritual portal through which the soul can roam but, for Addison, well into her teens, from Capreol a cozy mining town in Ontario, Canada, spiritual quests were the last thing on her mind. Apart from the occasional horoscope query that focused mainly on romantic opportunities, Addison didn’t give much thought to the occult. Instead, for her, windows, or rather one particular window, was her only means into a world that her folks tried hard to keep her from, more than anything it was a symbol of secret liberty that she had been enjoying on the sly. For her parents still carried traditional beliefs about teenagers dating, it was entirely out of the question. Hence, even looking at a member of the opposite sex seemed like the biggest taboo in her world.
This window, due to its strategic location in the house, away from the line of sight of her mother during her long hours in the kitchen, and her father who spent an equally long time in his study, allowed her brief moments of bliss with the boy next door. This window looked directly into the neighbor’s living room that played a pivotal role in initiating this teenage romance that started off with the occasional exchange of glances. First subtlety and then intentionally, it did grow into a full-blown love story for Addison.
Of course once her parents noticed this, dual-roller shades were bought and quickly installed. Her father took a certain pride in these shades, not only because it stopped his daughter from doing the most atrocious thing. Since, her great-grand aunt, Avery ran away with a circus boy ages ago, which according to her father still tarnishes the name of their great family legacy.
But these shades were the latest state of the art, remote controlled “dual – roller shades” that only their house had on the block. Of course every time guests came over, her father would show off its ability to vary light intensities due to its two-fold system that allowed the simultaneous use of two shades at once or separately. This two-fold system allowed a complete black-out with its black-out shade and at the same time, one could enjoy the natural sunlight without having to put up with its glare by using the solar shades alone.
Addison cursed at this new piece of technology, which was picked mainly because it topped the list titled “Privacy”. Even the shade that maintained sunlight still allowed “moderate privacy”, reducing her beau into a blurry figure moving about in his house. To make things worse, there was apparently an option to control the amount of “openness” with the weave of the solar shade as well. Of course, her father went ahead chose 1% openness. Surely if there was anything lower than that, he would’ve gotten that instead. During neighborhood pot-luck parties, her father would often loudly remark about its privacy features in front of her little lover’s parents, and you could see the both of them turn red, it was their dirty little secret. “They’re shadow and silhouette proof, perfect for indoors, for the highest level of privacy, apparently,” her father would say quoting the manual like he had practically written it himself. He’d talk about the material used and emphasize on how he picked the vinyl mix fabric instead of the polyester because of its quality and, of course, its higher cost. What a show-off! Another feature was its flame-resistant capacity – this seemed slightly unnecessary to Addison at first but upon further thought, with her father’s temperament, he might just start breathing fire someday, so flame-resistant would do just fine.
After a few weekends of contemplating what to do, after yet another dinner party, as she brushed her hair she noticed a little piece of paper on her dresser, “Read me” it said. Turns out she had company, her teenage flame managed to work his way around their new found nemesis, the shades, since it had the black-out option that blocked out all vision of the outside, he devised a plan to leave notes at said intervals on the window-sill without being seen sneaking around the house.
The next evening, ecstatically, she went down to the window at exactly six; it was winter so the sun had gone down, and the black-out shades were down. She waited to see if the coast was clear and tried to figure out the workings of the remote that controlled the shades. It didn’t seem like rocket science at all, just a power button and an “up” and “down” button, piece of cake! As she anxiously waited, the shades moved up to reveal what looked like a blue piece of paper, “What a darling!” she thought.
She ran up to her room pulled her drapes open, he always went for football at six, as he waded his way through snow down his drive- way, he turned back and smiled that gorgeous smile that created a colony of butterflies in her stomach. She settled dreamily onto her bed and read his letter. Turns out, our man was quite the poet, apparently. Little Romeo had her blushing like a tomato, and she was on cloud nine.
Their romance grew, she enjoyed reading his sweet nothings about her; they also shared the same taste in music and art. The thought of doing what her parents would consider unspeakable also added to the thrill of this teenage flame.
Their romance lasted throughout winter and spring. One summer’s afternoon when the sun was blaring in the sky, Addison awoke to yelling, something along the lines of how it was unladylike to laze around in bed way into the afternoon. It was a Saturday for heaven’s sake, and she felt it was inhuman to be woken up any time before twelve in the afternoon. She drew open her curtains and was almost blinded. Summer was getting intense and so was her “blasphemous alliance” with the neighbor – boy, as her father put it, not because he caught them exchanging letters but because he found them chatting up in the street! Yes, they had gotten pretty bold. This didn’t stop them though, they still exchanged letters – that was fine, the shades had saved them.
She came down to a pleasant sight; the whole house was filled with a dreamy blue, her father had gone ahead and installed shades of different hues of blue at the living and dining-room windows, that managed to cut out the heat as well as leave a cooling yet lively mood around the house, especially around her little window. She was starting to think that his sudden obsession with these shades surpassed his need for privacy.
Fall came and as temperatures began to drop so did their communication. The shades were rarely set to fully eclipse the outside view; often only the translucent part of the shade was down to allow light in. This meant that it was hard to sneak around leaving letters on the window sill. The term “distance makes the heart grow fonder” couldn’t describe this situation any better. The young lovers, almost a year older now, knew it was more than just a crush; it was quite the story for teenage gossip- mongers on the block.
One dull evening, as the sun began to take its leave, so did his family, the movers, had come, his father had gotten transferred. She watched sullenly from her window as the movers loaded boxes into the back of a van, she pretty much felt like getting in there and going away with him as well. As she rolled up the shades for the last time, she saw the last note she’d ever get from him. All good things must come to an end, she realized.