Thursday, 28 March 2013

Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind

       Hey, as I said around three minutes ago, here is the last of the stories that I had to take down a while back, all edited and improved and things. Hopefully you'll like it!

       Close encounters of the awkward kind. Ok, I can deal with this. I’ve met new people before, it’s no different. Well, I guess it is different, a bit. It’s different because it’s not completely my choice to meet this person; it’s Stacey’s idea. Maybe I’m one of those really awkward people who’d be happy being a hermit, just staying in one darkened room for days at a time, emerging only to use the toilet or to discover that the fridge has actually been empty for three days now; do I need to get milk on the way home?
       I think that’s them, outside Subway. Weird place to meet, Subway. Maybe it’s Stacey’s idea of ‘a relaxing place to meet’. Relaxing, to me, is not telling three people what I want in my sandwich and whether I want it toasted; relaxing is sitting in front of the telly, with my laptop on my knees - maybe reading a book - and eating, or drinking, or both. I like that information overload thing that accompanies doing all of that at once. I don’t know how that’s relaxing actually, thinking about it.
     ‘Hi, Jason! This is Mary; Mary, Jason. Let’s go eat, shall we?’ I smile at both, and offer my hand to Mary. She’s not as bad as I expected, but she’s not spoken yet, so she may still be a catastrophe yet. The other thing which makes me put my guard up a bit, is how perky Stacey sounded when she introduced us, like her tone would make us excited to see each other, it was almost patronising actually, it was like she’d arranged a play-date for Mary and me. I hope she doesn’t leave us alone too much. Ten minutes later, we’ve ordered, sat down and are making feeble attempts at small talk. I think I blacked out for those ten minutes, at least, I don’t remember what I was thinking about. Did I need milk on the way home?
      ‘What did you get, Jase?’
‘Err, chicken, ham, cheese; not toasted, lettuce and cucumber. No sauce – I don’t feel too daring today.’ Mary laughed at this. I inwardly rolled my eyes. It’s not that I don’t like her, I just have this pre-formed opinion because she’s Stacey’s idea. I don’t want this woman to find me funny, or clever, or attractive for any reason. I don’t know why I actually came here today; I’m not looking for love or any of that crap. I guess it might do me good to get out of the house more.
But not like this; not with Mary.
      Stacey broke my chain of thought again; ‘I’m just going to pop to the little girl’s room, why don’t you two have a little chat – get to know each other a bit?’ She left the table. I almost wanted to jump up and run after her, and I would have, but I think I’d get banned from Subway if I ran into the ladies’ room.
      ‘So, Jason, what do you do?’ Here we go – awkward chit-chat. My immediate response was to say something like; play XBOX in my underwear mostly, sometimes I remember to take the dog for a walk too; but I think she meant what job do I do.
        ‘I’m an accountant.’
        ‘Oh, wow, that’s so cool! Do you enjoy it?’ did she just say cool? She’s gotta be late 20’s, maybe even in her 30’s.
        ‘Not really, it’s dull. I don’t like the dicks I work with either; there’s almost no respite, but we do have pizza on Fridays, so that’s something.’ I don’t think that’s the response she was expecting, because she smiled that ‘what the hell’ smile you do when someone tells an unfunny joke, but you don’t want to seem rude.
        We went back to our sandwiches then. I don’t know what she was thinking about; maybe she was considering chasing Stacey into the bathroom too. At any rate, the silence allowed me to go back to my thoughts. What was I thinking about? Saying that, or thinking it – whatever; I don’t think you’re meant to ask yourself what you were thinking about when you think. I do it a lot a think.  Why is it called a ‘stream of consciousness’? it’s not like a slow, meandering stream which trickles beautifully through a forest clearing, feeding little rabbits and deer; it’s more or a cross-junction of consciousness – you get cars of thought speeding at all angles into each other, interrupting one, maybe crashing into each other, one slow, pretty old thought – which probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive anymore because of its age – slowing down a younger, possibly more interesting or important one, just because it’s got cataracts  or the new technology in cars these days is scaring it. I think I’m confusing my thoughts with people. The women’s room door opens and we both fling our heads towards it, hoping – I’m hoping; Maud probably is too. I mean Mary, whatever.
          A woman who isn’t Stacey steps out of the bathroom. Crap. I should ask her something.
         ‘So, Mary; what do you do in your spare time?’
        ‘Well, I’m 35, so it feels like it’s too late for me to really meet someone special and have kids, you know? So every Thursday I go out in the evening and try to seduce men, I’ve never gotten pregnant though, which is a shame. I wouldn’t ask them for money for the child or anything, I just really want a baby. Men just don’t seem to come back to my place though, and when they do, they tend to leave pretty quickly; maybe it’s all the baby pictures – I just get them from ‘Google images’. I’ve already got a collection of baby clothes, I’ve got fifteen baby-grows, 30 bibs, some really cute sets of dungarees, I’ve got some – ‘ at this point, I realised that my eyes were dry from staring and my eyebrows hurt from having them raised in shock and fear. Part of me wanted to see if her house was as bad as the image she had created, but I was terrified too. I think this may be my cue to leave. I felt rude interrupting her, but she was baby-crazy. I couldn’t take it anymore.
          ‘Hey, you know what? I think I left the oven on; I’m going to have to leave. So sorry to cut this short – you’re, well you’re, just…swell. You’ve been great.’
          ‘Oh, well, can I call you?’
          ‘Erm, no, I don’t have a phone.’
          ‘You don’t? How can I get in touch with you?’
         ‘Erm, carrier pigeon?  No, that won’t work, they won’t find me in the asylum.’ I wasn’t sure if this was putting her off or not, she seemed enthralled by it. Crap.
          ‘The asylum? Which one are you in? I could come and see you, maybe Thursday night?’
          ‘Thursday’s no good, we sing karaoke on Thursday nights and they usually end up sedating me. Anyway, like I said, I should get back, they don’t know I’m here, I managed to escape and they’re bound to notice that the bag of potatoes isn’t me soon enough. Tell Stacey I said goodbye, I’ve had a great time. Bye.’
        I left quickly, not completely aware of what just happened. I appear to have let some sort of cross-junction of thought collide with word-vomit, which I didn’t know, until now, could even happen. Hold on though, what if she was telling me all the baby stuff to put me off of her? No. I will not give up that easily. I’m going to go back in there, and I’m going to really sell myself. Maybe I’ll tell her I’m a compulsive liar; that way I can just deny everything I just said. Pseudologia Fantastica – compulsive lying. If I say the medical name, she’ll have to believe me; you wouldn’t just know that. Why do I just know that? What if I am a compulsive liar? Of course I’m not; I’m a compulsive thinker and a compulsive twat.
          Anyway; back to Mary.

         Watch out for part 3 of The Following, hopefully tomorrow, perhaps even tonight, I won't promise, we all know where that leads! Take care of yourself!

                             Thanks for reading! Laura

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