Through the rusted bars, tastes, rather than glimpses, were caught of the jumbled neighborhood; and nothing within range, nearer or lower than the summits of the two-great towers of Notre-Dame, had any promise on it of healthy life or wholesome aspirations. Cicely stared intently out the tiny basement window watching the people passing, marching past her window, well their feet anyway. To amuse herself she would make up stories of those who slapped, clapped, skipped and thudded past it, using only their shoes as the catalyst for her imagination. Mr. Brown Oxford’s steps were quick, firm and purposeful, a banker, and father of three, married to a woman whose lips puckered sourly as she sipped her morning tea. Ms. Black and White Sling Backs whose steps were delicate, graceful, almost skimming over the filth on the cobbles on delicate paten leather spikes that were pointed enough to puncture the morning fog; clicking rhythmically past, headed to one of those fancy stores where she waited on the uppity-ups. The twins skipping in step, laced uptight in their Le Loup Blanc’s, held firmly by the hand one on each side of the nanny heading off to school, where they would learn how to be “proper” but when the teacher turned her back would spit balls of paper through the end of a straw and giggle into their sleeves.
Cicely hadn’t paid much attention to the life outside that window as a young girl as much as she did now, it didn’t seem that important then. Sure she had noticed it, the way the room would turn pink as the sun kissed the city bonsoir each evening. Oh, how she longed to be kissed. Blushing even as the thought ran through her mind, her cheeks now the same shade as the evening sun. At seventeen you thought of such things. She noticed how the rain freckled the panes of glass making the floor a maze of poke-a-dots, just like the dress she had seen flit past the window just last week. She could imagine how magical it would it be like to wear such a beautiful dress, watching it swirl around as you glided across the dance floor in the arms of a fine young man. But these days, these days she noticed everything. The brioche vendor pushing his heavy cart each morning, in his old dirty boots with the small hole in the toe, to the corner and sliding it almost effortlessly back again in the evening when its load had been lightened from the sales of the day. That everyday hustle and bustle, the little things that no one ever looked at, the movement of life, it had escaped her then.
Cicely’s mother came in carrying a large sack of groceries. She put them down on the kitchen table and walked over to her daughter, leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “Well, are you ready?” Cicely’s mom asked. “Ready as ever” was her reply. Cicely’s mother pulled back the covers. Cicely turned her head towards the window, a tear steeling it's way down her cheek, as her mom started to unwrap the bandages that covered her newly amputated legs.