We were lined up orderly on the conveyor belt, praying for one another. I remember the streaky sparks that spattered as electricity surged through the saw’s silver blade, slicing through the suffering surfaces. I will never forget The Changing: the way my arms and legs were amputated and I was separated from Mum and Dad, never to see them again. Little did I realise that my life as a windowpane had only just begun.
You see, when I first met Frame, I detested him straight away. But before I had time to protest to the handyman, I was already fixed to him permanently, with only a thin layer of glue and silicone piped between us. Soon afterwards, I met Handle, who didn’t seem all too thrilled about being fixed to Frame either.
It was awkward at first, not knowing where to look. In one direction was Room, the forever warm and cosy place inhabited by humans. The Timberlake family were a peculiar species, but their familiar faces never failed to cheer me up.
Mrs Timberlake would always take time to bathe me, and I liked the consistency of her soapy sponge strokes that massaged my back. The Timberlake twins, Maggie and Mildred, were little bundles of joy who smudged their grimy hands all over my face, leaving sticky fingerprints everywhere! Luckily Mrs Timberlake soon set things right, as her regular inspections usually resulted in her polishing me to perfection.
Baby Timberlake was the worst by far. I simply couldn’t bear her screaming, her crying, her wingeing, moaning, burping, shrieking, or gurlgling. My poor ears will never be the same again! On the contrary, Grandpa Timberlake was a peaceful soul, constantly sleeping in Rocking Chair (who always complained about the weight). His chest rising and falling was, at times, therapeutic, but his snoring – his snoring! – always gave Handle and me something to talk about.
Most objects in Room were friendly. I could rely on Encyclopedia for insights into anything and everything. Then there was Radiator, who always started heated debates. But aside from them, I had my eye on Lamp. She was stunning. I was generally too shy to talk to her, but when I did, I could feel my cheeks turning red, and I had to look down at Window Sill to hide my embarrassment. I really fancied her, but eventually I figured that she was just another person who tried to ignore me and look right through me.
The only Object I couldn’t stand was Grandfather Clock. He was just plain irritating, with his ticking and tocking and ticking and tocking all day long. According to Radio, he hasn’t uttered anything but tick or tock for the last eighteen years! One day, I offered to give him elocution lessons, but as half expected, his response was tick tock, so I assumed he was a foreigner, who would make a troublesome and rather challenging pupil to assist.
At night, Mr Timberlake pulled down Blind so I couldn’t see into Room. I don’t think I missed much, because all the Objects had to keep particularly quiet when the Timberlakes were asleep. Blind made me so itchy, and I hated him at first, almost as much as Frame and Grandfather Clock.
On the other side of me, were Garden and The World Beyond. Garden was more beautiful than you could put into words, especially when all her flowers were in bloom.
I was desperate to learn about life in the neighbours’ houses that lay in The World Beyond. Windowpane of Number 12 couldn’t tell me about its room, even if she wanted to. I could see from Frame that she was always covered in condensation from shower steam, and didn’t enjoy living in the humidity.
I had loads more friends (and enemies) in Garden and The World Beyond. There was Rain, who tickled me all the time. We had a special kind of friendship…
Then there was Spider, who thought I had the perfect corners for making her webs on. I let her stay all through the first spring, but then a howling wind came and whisked her away. I was beginning to worry that I was renting out my corners too cheaply, so when Spider’s cousin came along, I raised the cost, and he simply scuttled along Drainpipe to find a better deal.
Magpie was pure evil. I had always been suspicious of her and her friends, right from the start. It was the way she stared at me with those beady black eyes that made me shiver, like the first time I encountered Snow. One time, Magpie flew past me, and left a white mess on my shoulder. I was more than horrified! Not exactly the kind of birthday present I was hoping for. Mrs Timberlake had to put Key in Handle (which he told me was a very painful experience) and pushed me outwards, so I was hanging over Garden. I waved to Grass below, excited my newfound freedom. Mrs Timberlake got out her soapy sponge, and scraped the muck right off my shoulder. I’d never been happier.
I have a lot of stories to tell about Room, Garden, and The World Beyond. When milder Timberlake and her gangster friends ‘accidently’ hurled poor old Tennis Ball at my tummy, I knew I would never see Bookshelf or Radio or Lamp or Radiator or Handle or Carpet or Garden ever, ever again. The pain came as a total shock. And perhaps, this was worse than my fate at the factory. My life was shattered into a million shards of glass. Part of me is still fixed to Frame, but I am sharp there, and nobody will want to talk to me now.
These broken pieces that belong to me no longer form the windowpane I was so proud to be. I am not a windowpane now, just a window in pain.
*PS – I have just been informed that this monologue, which I wrote about 2 years ago, has been selected to be published in the Red House Yearbook 2013 as a winner in the ‘short story’ 13+ category, which is quite an honour. Photo credit to Google Images, as usual.