1.3.2014 Journal Prompt

Image from Amour
Image from Amour

January 3, 2014: She wouldn’t leave him alone.

2 Replies to “1.3.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. She’d been in a class he’d been teaching. Not even his own class, but one he was covering for a colleague. He was off topic a little and talking about mosquitoes and he was telling them of a time in his younger days when he had a summer job working as a forestry labourer in Norway. There was an old man there and when they stopped for lunch he took a nap and a mosquito landed on the old man’s hand. He had watched the whole process, the probing of the insect’s proboscis and then the settling in to the task, its whole body arching as it sank the thinnest needle into the skin of the sleeping man. Then he had watched the transparent membrane of the mosquito fill up with blood. Maybe a drop at most, but enough to shine deep red inside the body of the mosquito. Then it used the lever of its body to pull the needle free and a flicker of its wings took it away. The old man slept without flinching through the whole process.

    A girl at the back of the class felt a little dizzy. He stopped his lesson and told her to put her head down on the desk and he said someone should open the window. Then the girl fainted and he was near enough to catch her. She was gone no more than a moment but on her return she was groggy and unfocussed so he kept hold of her. She was hot and her skin as pale as fright and he talked to her. He removed her sweater and said again that someone should open the window and could someone else phone for the nurse.

    Afterwards, after she had found her feet again and the nurse had taken her away and the class had filed out, he thought about what had just happened. He played over and over in his head the things he had said to her, the taking off of her sweater and the holding her close to him as though they were lovers in a black and white film. Someone had told him her name and he’d used it when talking to her. Now the moment was over and she was gone, he could not remember what it was.

    He kept bumping into her in the days following. In the library, and the college canteen, and in the corridor outside his room, and in the carpark beside his car. He still couldn’t remember her name. The first time he wasn’t even sure it was her, but then she approached him and thanked him for all he had done. He asked her if that happened to her a lot, the fainting. She’d shrugged and said it had happened once before, when she was a lot younger.

    He said he was glad it was nothing serious and he smiled and she touched his arm and thanked him again. Then they just kept meeting. By chance he thought, or maybe she was engineering it. He couldn’t rule that out.

    It was a week or so later that he was called into the principal’s office. There’d been a letter of complaint, she told him. Something about a girl who had fainted in his class and now he was following her all over the campus. He scratched his head and did not know what to say. The principal was standing at the window with her back to him. On her desk was the typed letter. He craned his neck to see the name at the bottom. The girl’s name was Stephanie.

  2. She wouldn’t leave him alone. She was always dropping round, or phoning at all times of the day and the night, or sticking scribbled notes to his fridge so he’d see them when he woke. They’d been something once and now they weren’t – not exactly. She still had a key to his apartment and he had been ok with that at first; now he wasn’t so sure.

    They’d met by chance in the street. She was lost and she’d stopped him to ask directions. They were going to the same part of town so they walked together a while. Her name was Helga and she was a lecturer at the university, something to do with sociology. She was on her way to a date, something blind set up by a friend. She was late, but she did not quicken her pace or seem concerned.

    Then they could not go any further. There’d been some sort of accident and the streets ahead were closed off and police turning everyone back and everywhere the shriek of ambulance sirens and fire trucks. She shrugged. He took her for a drink. She phoned her friend to explain and asked that she phone the date.

    Later, they went back to his place. She was a little drunk and so he gave her his bed. He lay down beside her at first, and he stroked her hair and kissed her in her sleep and said her name out loud. Then he got up again and moved through to the sofa in the livingroom.

    Within a week she had a key and she came and went as she pleased. Sometimes they went to bed together, straight away, nothing said. And they made love with the curtains open and the streetlight yellow falling on the twisting of their bodies. And when they lay back at last, exhausted, they talked in whispers about the people they wanted to be.

    It lasted about six months, a bright starburst flare and then almost nothing. She didn’t blame him. They became friends, instead, and that’s why, years later, she still had a key and why she was always dropping by, and phoning him at all hours. Sometimes, they still went to bed together and sometimes they just held each other, like hands that are pressed together in prayer. And even when she wasn’t there, she was a voice in his head. He always said they shouldn’t, but she was still young and beautiful and so they sometimes did.

    He complained about it some days. How she never left him alone. How she was always there. They’d have words and she’d throw something breakable and slam the door on her way out. Then there was quiet for a week or so: no key turning in the lock when he least expected it, no phone ringing to break his sleep, and no notes stuck to the fridge when he woke. If he was honest, he’d say that he missed her then – if he was honest he would, a part of him at least; the other part of him felt briefly at peace and he got some work done.

    Then she’d just turn up again, as if nothing had happened, and it’d be right for a day or two, and they’d talk about what was going on in the world and she’d say she thought he’d put on weight or that his hair needed cut or he smelled funny. And they’d drink till they were silly enough.

    He wondered if there was a day around the corner when she would finally leave him alone and he did not really know if he wanted to meet that day.

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