Today a man follows her. Uh oh. He’s watching her; staring behind her the way I do. Her spell is contagious. He follows her path until they are both out of my sight. I should follow them, I think. I should make sure she’s okay. I should try to deter him. But I know all I really want is to follow her myself.
But I won’t. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay right here. And dream. Never living. Will he have more courage than I? Perhaps he will catch up to her and find his voice; a voice that invites her to dinner or dancing or maybe even kisses her. I bet her skin is soft and warm to the touch. I bet her hair feels like the magical straw of Rumpelstiltskin, turning to fine flakes of gold when touched. I bet her lips…I turn back to my computer. She’s not my concern until her face enters my vision yet again. Then I will have my moment to dream.
She eventually comes back. Much later than usual. The man is gone. Probably off in the woods crying. She has a dollop of stray ketchup on her mouth. Such an adorable dollop. I rest my chin in my hands and simply enjoy the chills and warmth that come with watching her. She disenfranchises me. Badly.
I’m in trouble. I’ve been watching her too much. My work is suffering. My boss wants to fire me. I have to stay focused. I have to conquer my spreadsheets and reports and updates. I can’t be fired. I have to keep seeing her. I work extra hard. I still watch her. Three times a day, like clockwork. But when she’s gone my eyes and my computer fuse once more to live amongst the dead. And there is nothing until I see her again.
Today she is limping. It makes me sad. I mourn for her as she hobbles by my window. I could make it all better. I really could. Her khaki skirt looks uncomfortable as she painfully works her way across the rocks. Why doesn’t she stay in the office? What is so important?
And I’m in my computer.
She comes back with dirt on her face. This is strange. You’ll be okay, i say to her quietly, I won’t let anything happen to you. I will keep you. You will be mine and we’ll walk together forever, just the two of us. Let me hold your hand. Let me touch your lips. I won’t kiss them. No. I just want to feel them on my fingers.
My boss wants to talk to me. I snap to attention. I can’t let him see the reason for my misbehavior. It’s okay, he just wants to know when my reports will be submitted. I’m like a lonely pine tree, facing nothing but an empty forest and pretending I love it. Pretending I need it. Pretending it keeps me alive. But it doesn’t.
Only she does.
It must be casual Friday. She is in jeans and a t-shirt. Sneakers on her feet. I picture her toes – the ones I glimpsed when she wore her wedge sandals. Her second toe was longer than her first. It was tantalizing. And now I’m lost in thoughts of her eloquent toe – perhaps an inheritance of royalty. The Queen of England has a second toe longer than the first. I think. It means something special. It explains these feelings inside me. It explains my obsession. She has something special. A special things that grips me, shakes me, and tears my body into strips of senseless hide, ready for tanning. I will never let her go. I will never stop watching her. She will always be in my protection.
I throw my computer out the window. I smash it with my foot until it has become a welcoming and inviting pile of beach sand, welcoming me in for rest. She would like this. She could put her toes in it. They would feel good.
That’s what I want. But instead, I’m typing. I’m typing an email about something stupid to someone I don’t care a rats ass about. But I say please and thank you. Because that’s what mom always taught me. And it’s important that people think you’re happy. You don’t get fired when people think you’re happy. And then you get to watch the girl. The girl that creeps under your skin and scratches the raw bone with one short nail on her right hand. And he harder she scratches the better you feel.