I sat in my bathrobe – a navy blue fluffy ankle-length blanket of a robe – on my deck. The cushions for the bench soaked through, I perched on the edge of the hard faux-rattan bench. My big mug of black coffee rested on the arm of the bench, and I took a drag from my cigarette as I read the news, as I pondered how scared I am.

The birds and the squirrels provided a much better show than did whatever I was finding on my phone, and I turned my ears, and my eyes, to them.

Chirping, warbling, fluttering. Scampering, foraging, chasing. They gave me lots to attend to.

And, out of the corner of the eye, I saw my neighbor stand, walk from her south window to her north, turn, face the window (me), and lift her shirt. I turned my head a few degrees to see her small breasts, clearly visible, framed perfectly by the window. She stood, topless, gazing at the same squirrels and birds. She stood there for a solid minute. I tried to look away but her breasts didn’t permit it.

Finally, after the minute had passed, she turned, retrieved a (white person) nude bra from somewhere beyond my view, hooked the clasp under her breasts, rotated it around her body, and lifted it to provide support for the rest of the day, sliding her arms through the straps and turning to finish dressing.

Earlier, I had imagined she drew her shades to escape my gaze.

This morning, I imagined she chose to give me a gift.

The truth, I’m sure, is neither: as for so many women, I just don’t exist in her mind.

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