Skin

I see her everyday but she doesn’t see me.

She walks with confident purpose, head held high, spine straight as a ballerina, eyes sharp and focused. I watch her enter the building, check her mailbox and imagine the click of her heels as she makes her way to the elevator, the black and white image on my monitor highlighting her porcelain skin.

Apartment 42B. That’s where she lives. I switch cameras to watch her hit the button in the lift. She almost always glances in the mirrored wall of the elevator and runs her fingers through the long dark waves that cascade over her shoulders. Unless she has her hair up; those days she pulls out the pins and lets it tumble free down her back, as if she cannot bear to keep it constrained for another minute longer. I wonder what those waves smell like…

After watching her walk down the hallway, I lose sight of her as she closes her door. I imagine her kicking off her shoes, shedding her coat, maybe pouring herself a glass of wine, cold from the fridge. Maybe she takes a hot shower to wash away the grime of the city. Maybe she fixes herself a meal and watches TV, or reads.

I imagine her evening routine. Soon I will not need to imagine it. Soon her secrets will be mine.

*

She walks through the lobby as usual, collects her mail and then over to the elevator.

I watch as she opens her apartment door. Switching to my laptop, I see the interior of her living room.

She steps out of her shoes and shrugs off her coat, hanging it on the hook on her door and drops her mail on the coffee table as she walks into her bedroom.

I catch my breath as I see her unbuttoning her blouse and dropping it on the floor, followed by her skirt. She unhooks her bra, pulls her pants down to her ankles and steps out of them. She is so much more beautiful than I ever dared imagine. Her skin is milky white, unblemished by tan lines or freckles. Her breasts are full and heavy with small pink nipples standing proud, her waist is narrow. My eyes go to the thin line of dark hair that contrasts with the pale skin between her generous hips. She walks into the ensuite and I lose sight of her while she showers.

Wrapped in a towel, her hair piled high on her head, she emerges from the bathroom in a cloud of steam, holding a large tub of body lotion. Throwing the towel onto her bed, she scoops a lavish handful of the cream and, starting at her ankles, she massages it into her skin methodically working her way up to her thighs, over her gently rounded stomach, rubbing in circles. She rubs more lotion into her arms, over her breasts and up to her throat.

I wonder what scent the body cream is. I wonder how soft that skin is to touch.

She pulls a long tee shirt over her head and looks directly at me, inspecting her face in the mirror. I flinch as if she can see me, unnerved at her gaze meeting mine. Her face is bare of make up and I notice she looks younger, more girlish. She starts swaying and her mouth opens. I realise she must be playing music and singing along, which makes me smile.

“Oi! What are you smiling at matey? Eyes back on the monitor, this isn’t a fucking holiday camp!” My supervisor’s voice rattles me, jolting me from my private performance and I snap my laptop shut before he can see what I have been watching.

My cheeks burning with frustrated rage I turn my sight back to the monitor and wish the remaining 30 minutes of my shift away until I can clock out and watch her again. Thinking of that skin and how it would feel beneath my fingertips.

*

At home, alone in my small bedroom, I open my laptop. There she is, sitting cross-legged on her bed, her face glowing in the light from her Mac Book screen as she types. Beside her lies a plate with some crusts from a half eaten sandwich, the remains of her supper I guess. She is smiling as she types, laughing occasionally. She must be chatting online to someone. I feel irrationally jealous and entertain the fantasy of learning her twitter handle so I could “talk” to her.

She yawns and stretches her arms over her head, moves the plate off the bed onto her bedside table and gets under the covers. She types what must be a goodnight to whoever she is chatting to, closes her laptop and puts it on the floor next to her bed. I smile as she settles herself to sleep, my fingers caressing the screen, “Night-night baby.”

I watch her until sleep takes me.

*

I wake with a start and immediately look at my screen. Her bed is empty, the covers thrown back, pillows in disarray. Clicking to the second camera in her living room, I see her drinking from a large mug, perched on a high stool at her kitchen counter. Her long tee shirt covers her to mid-thigh. Relief surges through me… I haven’t missed her before she leaves for work.

Rubbing my eyes, I focus on watching her as she prepares for her day, waiting to see that milky white skin again.

One day I will touch that skin.

One day I will wear it.

Soon.

*

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