Love Letters #9

She didn’t know Enigma Boy.

He was tall and had long legs which he would stretch out over the aisle, and she would have to carefully step over them when she came late to her lectures. Sometimes he would notice and pull them back quickly, looking up at her with these deep green eyes, murmuring a ‘sorry’ in an accent she could not place.

At first, she would see him around the library sometimes, or sitting in the cafeteria with that other boy he was always with. With the snub nose and the toned arms. But it was only him she had the eyes for.

His complexion, she remembered thinking, was healthy. Cheeks that were a beautiful combination of reddened brown, the result of a lot of healthy sunshine and clean air. Thick dark hair that fell over his face just a little, just so, and he was always perfectly dressed.

She wasn’t. Perfectly dressed. Ever. She wore black jeans every day and alternated between three grey tops, over which she would shrug on her black hoodie and if it was cold, her dark green trench coat. Same black lace up boots, like out of a victorian photograph, and her curly black hair up in a messy bun, always, because she mostly forgot to brush it.

He probably just thought she was a messy person. Maybe he didn’t even notice her. But he talked to her friends, oh he talked to her friends. Maybe because she was too awed by him, that she was frightened to talk to him. She knew she gave off indifferent, moody vibes when she was shy. And she was tremendously shy around him.

Her heart thundered in her ears when he passed her in the corridors, and the notes of his foreign, exotic language were a soft melody in her ears. She could pick his voice out in a crowd.

And anyway, why was she thinking of him like that when she had herself the finest man a girl could wish for. At least, that is what she told herself.

He IS  a fine man.

He wasn’t as handsome as Enigma Boy, that was for sure. And he didn’t have good haircuts, was a little too skinny and smoked legal highs. She spent a fortune on his legal highs, mostly to avoid one of his horrendous tantrums. His ‘ludicrous’ moods. Well, that is what love is, she would sigh to herself, sitting in her lecture, while he was probably out somewhere smoking weed. Love is sacrifice. Love is patience.

And yet, despite all the sacrificing, patient love, this Enigma Boy occupied all her thoughts.

Once she was outside the lecture hall having a naughty smoke. She puffed in and out and closed her eyes and enjoyed the acridity of it, because it made her brain float a little and she needed that. Then she froze, because there he was standing right in front of her, also having a naughty smoke, only he was not puffing, just sucking it into his mouth and blowing it out.

How cute.

She saw him talking to a glamorous girl with red lipstick and thick, straight, glossy hair, both of them smoking, telling the girl that he did not smoke, he just puffed socially. Then he looked up, directly at her, her, and she looked away quickly.

Once he sat right in front of her in the lecture hall. His hair was so neat from the back. And when he shifted in his seat, she smelled him. Tobacco, mint, leather, spice. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep until someone poked her and asked if she was okay.

I’m okay. Oh. I am okay.

Then Enigma Boy turned. Their eyes met. She didn’t know why, perhaps it was out of habit, but she forgot to be shy, and she smiled at him. Not a regular smile that you give to somebody you see daily in your lecture hall. Not a ‘hello, there’ kind of smile, or even a smile of acknowledgement.

It was fully fledged smile, of warmth and comradery and her teeth even showed a little bit, so maybe it was a grin.

Oh, how embarrassing. 

She smiled before she realised what she was doing and by then it was too late. Her heart dropped, thudding pitifully somewhere at the bottom of her ribcage.

Ouch.

To her surprise, he smiled back. A wide, friendly smile. Not a stranger smiling out of courtesy, but a smile as though perhaps they had known each other all their lives.

Warmth bubbled up gently in her chest, and she averted her eyes back to the projector screen in front of them, pretending like she was listening aptly, when really she was graining that smile to her memory, burning it into her retina. Those green, green eyes. That wonderfully tanned face, with features so perfect in their slight imperfection. The way he’d turned, looking at her.

She barely heard the discussion between her friends after the lecture. All she thought about was that smile.

On the last week at university her friends went to have lunch together. He was going, too. Ar first she wanted to say no-no-no-no. But her friends dragged her along, insistent. She ordered a tall glass of vimto, and then he was there sitting next to her asking how her exam went. At first she was fumbly and shaky, her heart an oscillating drill, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, but then her thoughts gathered themselves and soon she was prattling on, sipping her vimto, while he listened and laughed sometimes and then it was his turn to talk.

Into the evening, they talked and laughed and then she was not feeling nervous but happy. Funny. Liked. Listened to. Appraised for the words she spoke, and the thoughts she shared. Not like she had felt in a long, long time. All through the evening and then the fairy lights came on and it was twinkly and summery and four of them wandered back to the bus stop together, Danielle talking about how her engagement went down, glittering her large ring at them. Laughter and happiness floating up into the summer twilight.

That was her last day at university. Last day ever. They didn’t even swap numbers.

Years later, after she had miraculously escaped the malicious grip of her ‘man’, after she had left university and met another gentleman, so kind and sweet and handsome, and married him, she was to remember that green eyed smile. Not for the butterflies it gave her, for that memory could not resuscitate any giddy feelings within her that her husband had not made her feel beforehand, but for the happiness she had felt during and after.

She remembered that smile and thought sadly that perhaps it was not a romantic smile, perhaps it was the smile that might have made for a wonderful friendship.

One can never know.

470356018.jpg

Rainless.

Once upon a time everything was fine.

People did what they had to do, wrote their assignments on time, and submitted excellent essays brimming with poignant points with legitimate quotations and impeccable referencing. They researched on time, and read all the books they needed to well in advance.

They did not stress eat chocolate until they were too sick to move, their sticky fingers flying over the keyboard at a thousand miles a second, and they certainly did not forget to brush their teeth two days in a row and wear a STAINED dress to work.

They also studied very hard for their exam not one week in advance, but five. They were nice to their husbands and made an effort to not look like a plastic bag with greasy hair, and they were not anxious and did not have separation anxiety when their husband told them he was staying in the next city for a month because this travel is getting too hard.

They did not silently cry in secret and fume over not going with said husband.

They did not miss the gym for three weeks despite paying £25, and they also understood everything perfectly and didn’t speak rubbish.

They were good and clean and tidy and healthy and mentally well equipped to handle life.

They were not named Lenora Sparrow, but some other name that was nice and sensible and did not reek of late submission and missed personal deadlines and/or goals.

That reminds me, I need to call my dad and discuss flights, write that amazon review I promised to write and read a tonne of things, also clean this place and myself up and lesson plan for this afternoon as well as finish 1200 words by tonight and make sure my car has petrol in it for tomorrow.

 

Time Soars

Just finished reading the Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon for my next assignment. When I logged onto the university website I realised it was due in five days, and my 4k word assignment in seven.

Where did time go? WHERE?

The book was mighty eye opening, and I didn’t understand why they didn’t go home even though they were lonely and unhappy. I mean, sure the money was an issue, but even those who raised it didn’t go home.

That is curious, see? It’s the idea of an illusion that they are still chasing, even after ten years (in the case of Moses). And I was suddenly gripped with the fear that what if I end up like that, always chasing my dreams but never quite getting there.

Well, the first step would be, of course, to ace this assignment, and then ace my exam.

‘Tis a sweltering day, folks, and the masses have left their humble abodes to parade about the city slowly peeling off their layers to reveal the pasty skin they have kept under wraps for the majority of this confusing season. But the temperatures have soared, and roofed places are stuffy, so sitting in this glass library which is acting like a green house is punishment enough.

Although I have to say I am enjoying dissecting Lonely Londoners.

Adieu, and happy Saturday, and Happy Mother’s Day to those celebrating today. We had ours back in March 🙂

 

Burnout

I am growing up.

Things are changing. My face is taking on an adult quality that it has lacked since I entered adolescence. People no longer mistake me for a sixteen year old.

I felt this acutely on Friday when a man with a badge stopped me in town. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not twenty five,’ really quickly because I knew what was coming and they usually need you to be 25.

‘Could have fooled me!’ he said, his eyes already scanning the crowds for another easy target.

Could have fooled me.

Really? Oh no.

There are bags under my eyes and they usually go within a day or two but these have been here for two months. My face is ashy and grey. My lips are purple. I don’t know why. I look fine after makeup but without it I look like a pile of lumpy ash.

Other things are changing too. I am not happy anymore. I find it incredibly hard to smile, and I am pludgering on through my days with a grimace; a combination of four hours’ sleep, and a day filled with minute planning else none of my goals will be achieved.

I complain a lot.

My tummy is bloated. (It is. All the time. Another medical mystery to solve.)

I don’t like living here.

Everything is a mess.

Stop being a child, Damian.

My tummy hurts.

I’m tired.

And I am. All the time. Every day I dream of falling back on to my bed for a nap, but it cannot happen, and when bedtime comes my brain is full of information and is busy creating a list of things to do for the next day that it usually takes me a good hour or two to wind down and be ready to sleep.

I have four thousand words to submit on the 17th of May, and two thousand five hundred for the 15th. I have a large exam for the first of June, and I haven’t read six of the eight set books required for the exam. How will I read six books in two weeks? As well as teach a bunch of kids for three hours a day and go into work for two hours a day, and chauffeur my brothers for 1.5 hours?

I can do it, of course. I already have a schedule.

But when moody madam is tired, schedules are generally hard to keep up with and I am always one to two hours behind because sometimes I can be slow.

So, I think I am growing up. I am learning to live, slowly and painfully. I don’t have my own life plan because I am living with my in laws, and usually have to follow their schedules and take my belongings wherever I go. So my wash bag and a towel along with a change of clothes comes in the car with me, along with a change of shoes and all my study books and teaching materials.

Most my showers are taken at the gym, and I usually groom myself there because the bathrooms are not always free at home and sometimes I can’t use them. It’s weird. I take such quick showers, I don’t see why its a problem. But eh, I guess I have a system now.

The epilating is hard, though. I don’t have time for that, so I try to make time. Last week I got to epilate and moisturise my legs and arms properly for the first time since December. I only had fifteen minutes before I was being called out of my room, so I hurried. But my legs still feel amazing.

D reckons I need to make more of an effort with my appearance. I do, of course. I look horrible. Just awful. I don’t feel confident to wear nice clothes because I have a stress pooch. My tummy pooches out when I am stressed and also it is always bloated so I don’t feel great making an effort with my apparel. Must get that sorted. I cut out dairy and grains, so maybe I should try just eating fruit and veg for a bit.

D says in August we can start looking for our own place. Financial reasons, of course. August can’t come soon enough.

Anyway. I am becoming better at hiding my sadness. I smile and chat away, but sometimes I show my mum my moody feelings because I can be fully myself with her. Still, it isn’t nice for her to always see me unhappy. I should make a better effort.

I don’t want to, you know? I don’t want to. And all my creativity is running dry.

rain-122691_1280.jpg

Dubliners

It has to be coherent.

It has to be relevant.

It has to all tie in together.

It has to convince her that what I have written is an accepted, intellectual and innovative truth.

This essay has to be everything, else I shall be completely miserable all summer, and shan’t enjoy the long heady days in the grass, nor any anticipated travels around this supposedly beautiful country.

And two days later, I have to submit 4000 words of pure literary genius. I have to tame my tutor’s senses and whisk her emotions away in a hurricane of action, my words ceasing to be groups of letters and becoming images floating through her mind. I want her to finish reading, and suddenly slam back down into her chair as reality hits her once more.

But how to do this, while simultaneously analysing James Joyce?

Do tell me, for I am quite lost and bogged down both intellectually and creatively.

images.jpg

I’m Failing.

This is the criteria to get a ‘Pass 1’, in the ‘A’ range: (I have rewritten the criteria in accordance with Open University Copyright rules)

“Knowledge of texts: Excellent choice of texts and in discussion of said texts you have highlighted their literary features.

Presentation and scholarly methods: Your argument and evidence related well to each other,and you used literary terms consistently and in the correct place. Quotes were accurate, and you referenced well and provided a correct bibliography.

Argument and response to assignment: Organised argument, used insight to expand on argument beyond the limits of the presented topic.

Understanding of the issues: It is clear that issues raised by the assignment were understood, correct use of study material was demonstrated, use of own material coupled with study material showed your understanding of their importance in this topic.”

 

I can’t supply all this. I want an ‘A’ grade, of course. Who doesn’t? But I am not insightful when it comes to choosing good texts and suitable quotations, especially when I have to quote from the entire novel. I read to enjoy, not to study. In fact, as I reread, I am finding it so hard to focus on the words and their context, because I am just seeing images and am avidly following a story even though I already know what is going to happen!

Damn these good writers. Damn them.

I am going to fail if I don’t buck up.