Living Life #13 “Déjà Vu”

(a collection of independent vignettes)

I know you.

My sneakers skidded to a stop in the street. A drum was beating in my chest and a shiver screamed down my spine. It didn’t matter that the sun was blazing down from high above because my body had suddenly run bitterly cold.

I know you.

It hit me right in the face from all the way across the street where you were. Sitting outside the very coffee shop I was nearly on my way to. You didn’t even look up and silently I thanked my lucky stars.

Though was I really lucky that they had let me get this far?

I wish I had realized it sooner. But in all fairness, I’m glad I realized it at all. Years had blown by my mind all in the matter of a single glance, just across the street. Why now? Why? Why?

Fate you’re cruel.

A few months ago, I noticed you at the table across from me. You were just sipping your coffee and I had been minding my own business. But then I saw you the next week, and the week after that. Kind words passed between us when your order accidentally got mixed up with mine. You said hi to me the next time we crossed paths and then goodbye a few days later.

You even told me a story about your job. You looked so happy and so passionate and I was so stupid. I got a crush. A crush. The perfect word for a terrible thing. I wanted to crush your mouth against mine and now I want to crush the bones in your body.

But that’s just me trying to get a handle on the feelings turning my blood to ice. You were just being nice. I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at myself.

Stealing my sleep at night, distracting me at work, turning my brain to goo when all you did was walk by my table on your way to the restroom. Good God. You probably didn’t even know how much I liked you.

So many years have passed, you most assuredly don’t remember me. Not from back then. It was ten years ago, when high school was right around my corner and college was the next step for you. I was chubby and small, nothing worthy of a near senior. I saw you at a party that I just happened to be at by accident. I was hanging out with a friend whose name I don’t even remember now, and her older sister was having a a few friends over. And there you were.

I know you.

Even then I gave you gaga eyes and stared. I looked right at you. You did not look at me. Then I watched as another girl walked right up to you and you squeezed your arm tightly around her. All alone in your own world. That’s when I ran upstairs to hide.

I stole another look across the street and there it was glimmering in the stupid heat from the sun. I never noticed the ring, but now it’s all I see. Stupid, stupid me… I never even thought to check before.

You still have the same face. The same tan. The same laugh that fills the air. No wonder I saw you from across the room. It was inevitable, but why?

My nails dug deep into my palms, but if they pushed any farther I might have started bleeding on the street. This stupid crush trying to tear me apart.

I pushed myself to put one foot in front of the other and I walked away from the heat, the cafe, you. You had no idea, thank God. The past belongs in the past. And from now on that is where you are going to stay.

I know you.

But why did it even have to happen at all?

Living Life # 9 (a collection of vignettes)

“Undone”

Something was watching me. My breath caught in the back of my throat and I froze.

It was a nagging feeling, the type that says the oven’s on or the door’s unlocked. Not exactly the concrete creep of a touch to the shoulder but, for the fourth time today, I felt it. I wasn’t alone. 

First weaving through the high grass as I crested the hill, next meandering over the small bridge near the lake, and then sitting on the porch outside my front door. It was there, in all those places. And it was here, right now… this peculiar feeling. The best explanation I could give would be that it felt as if all my personal, private expressions were being noted. How earlier the way my arms had swung like reeds in the wind at my sides, or how my eyes had floated down to the water to catch something sparkling, or even when one of my boots tripped over the other and I tried to walk it off like it never happened. And I had been alone. Supposedly. Until in the next breath after each of those actions I suddenly became undone.

Each and every time, I turned. At the hill all I saw was the swell and buckle of the land beyond, the lake’s water had held still as if trapped in a glass and even though I heard the door creak on the porch it was held firmly shut just as I had left it. This time I determined would be different. It would be futile to turn, so I wouldn’t. Instead I would let whatever it was come to me. 

I released my long held breath and bushed it off as if I hadn’t noticed anything at all. I placed my hands firmly on my hips and looked off to the trees ahead trying to focus. The longer I stared though the more the feeling grew. Maybe I had made a mistake. 

In the tangle of the trees that marked the entrance to the forest, I could spy not a thing out of place. There was no wind so the leaves were still and the clouds above cast the shadows long and deep beyond the trunks. There was not a hint of movement. Trying to focus on anything else I strained to hear the birds but no songs touched my ears. My nails dug a bit deeper into my hips and I tried to tell myself maybe it was going to rain and that’s all the silence was. A calm before the storm. Instead, my heart insisted on not listening to this drivel. It pounded to its own rushed beat that even my own lies couldn’t stop. The truth it hammered again and again was this. There was nothing in the forest… but there was almost certainly something behind me. 

A ghost of a touch breezed by the back of my left thigh. I stayed still. The trees filled my eyes. Look to the trees, look to the trees. But maybe I couldn’t see the forest I was trapped in for those trees. No. Don’t think like that. Choose the high road. That wasn’t real.  

A trace of a tingle across my elbow. Look. No. Don’t. Look to the sky instead and try to tell one cloud from another, even though the imminent rain would make that impossible. 

A curl of breath against my neck. Too warm to be from the lungs of the nonexistent wind. My heart stuttered releasing my own breath from its cage and I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned.

The porch, the lake, the hills against a gray sky were all in sight… and someone was there. But still… they were the only thing I couldn’t see.