There’s a woman. I first saw her sitting opposite me at a desk on the other side of the room at an evening class. But she never stayed long. She has bobbed straight hair, a perfect small nose and eyes which look simultaneously angry, scared and immensely sad. She has a long white neck so that when she flicks her head – which she does, often – her mousey hair swings neatly before falling back into place. Because she’s so lean, the structure of her neck is visible with every turn of her head. Her cheekbones are perfectly symmetrical and the gentle hollows beneath each one chiselled like chalk pits. She wears little make-up although She’s elegant but her clothes are unremarkable. Jeans, probably. But they’re neat. Shoes? I know she always wears flat heels, possibly because she’s so tall. Taller than me, that’s for sure and I’m not short, even for a man; I can see that much from a distance, see that her legs are long and graceful but obviously I can’t get that close or she’ll start to notice that I’m watching.
One day, she’d been crying, looked more twitchy than usual and never came back after a coffee break. I wondered what had happened to make her so sad, so on edge. One day, I saw her in the doctor’s surgery. She slipped into the waiting room wearing black gloves and she sat on a chair which she shifted so that her back was into the corner; her head was lowered and she shoved her hands into the gap between her thighs. She would not look up, just twitched and sighed and looked scared. Another time, I saw her in the DIY store. She was hugging a colour chart to her chest and fingering a paint pots as if divining their contents. Years had now passed since our first encounter yet she still had the same hairstyle, still walked like a haunted model, twitching. I was still worried for her, curious, yet glad that she might get some pleasure from choosing paint. Life couldn’t be all that bad. I wondered when I’d see her again.
There’s this man. At first, I wasn’t interested; my head was still too messed up. In fact, I would have had him down as the same sort who hung around outside the dressing rooms at the shows, hoping for a glimpse of bare flesh. But I was wrong. One night at evening class, I was in such a state that I couldn’t even get the coffee machine in the refectory to work, my fingers were shaking so much that I kept missing the slot. He came up to me, took my change and got it going first time and even made a joke about his magic touch. I was so grateful. More than I could have ever predicted. You see, it was the first act of kindness shown to me by another in a long time and I wept in the toilets for half an hour afterwards. I couldn’t face going back in, didn’t want him to see my blotchy face but at least he’d given me a reason to get better. I went to the doctor and he was there for me too and I just knew that I’d been right about him. I even saw him one day when I was out choosing paint for my new house; I was having trouble so it was no surprise that he should appear to me. I really can’t believe my luck. I can’t believe my luck can last so I’m not leaving it to chance. He doesn’t know I follow him. He doesn’t know how important he is to me.