A keyring Memory

So many people can shape your life in many different ways.


1. Keyring Memory

      I saw this girl once. I saw her while she was working at the local food shop. She turned out to be a bit of an enigma for myself. She turned out to be quite significant to myself. And I saw her first.

      I was doing my weekly shop, which this week happened to be placed on a Sunday, and I had done my usual trick of eating before I came out to make sure I didn't buy as much stuff. I walked around that zigzagging rope for queuing that is never full and I took my place at the self service check outs. As I was walking there was when I spotted her, and at the time I can't say I thought much more than 'Ohh, you're fairly attractive.' like you think with every eighteenth person on the street. I beeped all my shopping through to the bags, carefully distributing the weight.

      I always had a problem with the security guard here, too. No matter how innocent I genuinely am and try to be, he always seems to walk around an aisle as if he doesn't trust me. So I look around to see whether the idiot is going to rugby tackle me to the ground over some Jelly Beans and I accidentally made eye contact with the girl. Twice. Now, I know I'm not the only one that when this happens automatically thinks 'she wants me', even though you know it's unlikely, and that is exactly what I thought.

      At that point was when I started to think about her, with her long straight black hair; dark eyes from the deepest mascara and pale complexion; tipped off with a red T-shirt and black trousers supplied by work. She was petite and while not the most obvious of beauty, there was something about her that I kind of liked.

      Then I left the shop. Stupidly enough, I was aware that not making my own opportunities meant I would get nowhere with anybody. But I wasn't going to speak to her. Of course not. She was nothing special that would make me step out of my comfort zone. Just an attractive girl.

      She very quickly left my mind, the first time, and returned at the next visit. I was hoping she would be there before I even entered. The reason, I can not tell you. Perhaps I just like to be around pretty girls. She was not there, none-the-less.

      It must have been two weeks before I saw her there again on a Wednesday, stacking shelves. Needless to say, I skipped that aisle completely in the vain hope of not wanting her to see me, and again, I cannot tell you why. There was such an irrationality in my mind that it makes no sense even now. I saw plenty of people about my day, and she meant nothing to me, yet when I was there I was constantly aware of her presence.


      *      *      *


      Another week goes by of complete absence from the shop before she is there again, standing at the self-service. I was only on a short trip this time to buy a bottle of rum for a 'lads night in' that evening. As I stepped up to my position at the payment point I turned to realise she was stood right in front of the bottle I was going for. I reached out my hand to suggest I wanted something there and I smiled at her. She gave me a half glance with a false-smile as she stepped out of the way. As I was paying, to be sure, I did notice my boyish smile as she walked over to ID me. Her fingers brushed mine. It was at that point, I realised there was something extra about this girl. Almost as if she passed some emotional thing to me via contact.

      Flowing thoughts of this girl on the way back to my flat was overtaken by thoughts of take-away Pizza for lunch. Because, aside from our sporadic glances over weeks " I still had a life to live with things more important things to worry about.

      I did wonder, though, what that girl would look like in her normal clothes; what type of person she was. I will admit, I wondered about her a little too much seeing as I didn't know her in the slightest. However, she must have noticed me, too, apparently.

      Only a few days later I saw her again over a DVD rack in town. I contemplated talking to her; trying to spark a conversation, but, deep down, I knew there was no chance I would just talk to a random person. I didn't want her thinking I was a weirdo or something. So instead, when she looked in my direction, I just looked away.

      After she left, I walked round to where she was standing and saw she was looking at horror movies. My opinion of her went up, though I couldn't help think my usual tactic of using horror as an excuse to cuddle wouldn't work. Not that I thought mattered. Then things got a little more interesting.

      The bus I was on stopped. She walks on. She pays the driver and walks up to the back; two spaces away from me. Three guys followed her in that I barely noticed and before I knew it, we had eye contact.

      I smiled at her, wondering if she would give anything back - if she had noticed me.

      “Stop staring at me, and leave me alone.” she said in a harsh voice, yet almost in a sigh.

      “What?” I couldn't help but burst out, out of shock more than anything else.

      “I swear you're following me or something, I've seen you an increasing amount lately. And whatever you want, I'm not really interested. Okay?” she spat aloud, as I noticed the other passengers on the bus deliberately not looking back. I played as innocent as I was.

      “Woah, I was just trying to be nice!”

      “Nice? What by being creepy and staring at me, look, you don't know who I am " so I suggest you ignore me from now on.” She had calmed down at this point. I went to speak, but nothing would come out; my mouth hung slightly open and I obviously looked appalled and offended. She didn't seem to care. “Just go search for your bitch elsewhere.” That was an assumption I didn't like. She got up and walked over to the three guys, sitting a space away from them.

      She wore jeans that were tight around the arse and loose around the ankles, with a black T-shirt with some pink print. Her face was as pristine as I had always seen her in the shop, I couldn't put my finger on it, but she was with these lads who looked kind of like drug dealers. One of them with a buzz cut and an earring, wearing bright clothes, looked back at me, grinning and mauling his chewing-gum.

      I looked away as I had just been publicly falsely accused " which, in a way, I had been. For some reason, I was too curious to let things go, and her choice of words suggested she didn't really know what I wanted. Perhaps she was hiding something. I figured if I was in for a penny I was in for a pound.


      *      *      *


      There are some boyish feelings that never go away. Things such as wanting what you can't have. I decided that it wasn't that I wanted this girl, it was more that I wanted to prove a point or just accept the challenge. Plainly to me, she was a difficult person, and I wasn't going to back off unless she gave me absolute reason.

      I re-visited the Tesco's every few days until I saw her working there on the Saturday. That was when the blanking started. I'm not sure if she saw, because I was too busy blanking her, but I made sure to seem too natural and therefore unnatural. I skipped the next week, so the other staff members didn't think I was odd. Then luck struck the next time as I blanked her, again. Just to emphasise the point. At the third time, I was sure she must have noticed me there. This time around I blanked her differently. I kept her in the corner of my eye, and when she was looking in my direction I swung my head to make eye contact and winked at her, before going back to blanking.

      This was a bold move, I am well aware. But what did I have to lose? She already seemed to hate my guts and I was naively going to take on anything.

      The rest of my life carried on as normal. I wasn't obsessive, but as I said, there was something about that girl. But seeing as there wasn't any girl in the world I was interested in, my playing it cool didn't last too long before I decided to have a bit of fun.

      The next time I saw her, I walked right up to her. Basket of shopping in hand. And I smiled. Her being at work, she couldn't do much to get me to shoo, so she quietly glared at me and said “Can I help you?”

      “Ohh, I was just wondering if you'd like to go for a drink.” I said confidently, expecting some vile spat in return about how she would get someone to beat me up if I didn't go away. Instead, she just rolled her eyes.

      “Okay.” She said, soft and casually. There wasn't a hint of chill in her words, and that confused me.

      “Tomorrow at seven? The King's Arms?” I said, out of shock. Confused expression riddling my face. Did she even remember I was that guy from the bus?

      “I finish work at six, so I'll be there at eight.”

      “Deal.” I said, as I walked on, almost forgetting to pay for my shopping.


* * *


      It wasn't until she was back in my flat after six or seven drinks that I really thought about what was happening, albeit an overly tipsy realisation. This girl of whom I held round the waist until she was sat down and I offered her more drink, was the same girl that I had a fleeting, and careless, thought about in a food shop. It hadn't occurred to me before, that I might have been courting her for completely the wrong reasons.

      That being said, I'd had a brilliant night with this girl who all of a sudden was completely different towards me. She seemed so fun. I ignore the cliché of what people have in common " it's dislikes that is important, and we absolutely disliked the same stuff.

      After plenty of slurred conversation and tickling comments, we drew closer and then a bit of intimacy began to flow. This was the last thing I had expected at the start of the night and almost still was. I just ignored it, and went with her flow.

      Normally, I'm not the kind of person to sleep with someone so quickly. Though a mix of shocking enjoyment, not wanting to offend and absolute boyish lust drew over me until our clothes covered more floor than could be seen.

      I lost myself in the moment, and just before anything significant had happened, I felt her recoil.

      “I should probably warn you, before we do this. I do have a boyfriend.”

      The words, I later realised, were possibly the most worrying words that this girl could have said, and yet only caused a brief pause in my drunken and lustful state. Upon reflection, I should have made the link between the drug addled scum on the bus and the sores and fading bruses around her back, waist and shins. But in my mind, I assumed she meant 'but let's carry on anyway'. And that, I did.

       In the morning, there was nothing strange, just a casual getting dressed, a swift cup of tea and arrangements from her to leave. She explains to me that, “I had a lovely time,” she paused with a shy smile “It was great to have someone so caring.” I was expecting something more, before I realised the implications of what she was saying about her boyfriend.

      “Can I get your number, or something?” I asked in a vain hope, having already anticipated the answer. I knew I was unlikely to even speak to her again. “I don't think it's a good idea. I'd love to keep you as a memory though.” she added, as if trying to offer me something out of the experience. She knew I knew.

      There was a hug before she left. But then she was gone. The only time I ever knew anything of her after that was the knowledge that she no longer worked where I shopped, and that she had broken up with her boyfriend, somehow. What had happened to her around that, I have no idea. But perhaps I played a part in her life too.

      For me, though, for such a small and simple thing. I had learned so many things. That the people you oggle in the street have stories. And while there are other more important stories of my own life, I don't know how much more honest I could have been about this particular event.

      An important keyring to the keys of myself, my life; my mind.

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