Summary: A girl is at a loss in life. She finds guidance in Alan Rickman (actor).
Reviews: Would be very much appreciated
Disclaimer: I do not own Alan Rickman (or Rima Horton may I ever write down her name), only the girls' characters; they're my own creation. I do not make any money with this story, I only hope to find out some truths.
This is a confessional as much as a story. I didn't finish it yet, but put it up for beta reading. I'm not sure where I want to go with it; it depends on how my personal situation develops. This story pretty much sums up what 1) inspires me in Alan Rickman, 2) who he seems to be to me, 3) how I allow him to help me, beit from a distance (I'm not in contact with him).
This story might be incomprehensible, but bringing structure to it, or making it understandable to readers is not the point. However, I hope the people who get to read this piece find some enjoyment in it.
Working on a side note, or the side stage of what really isn’t a stage. I am working on the business side of things and only see close to nothing of what happens on stage. Still somehow I developed a liking for one of the actors rehearsing there. Though I might have picked up that crush somewhere else, like on my own couch while watching Harry Potter, or Dogma, or Galaxy Quest. Or, now it seems to turn out, Truly Madly Deeply. Unconsciously I attached myself to the character Jamie, Nina’s dead boyfriend, and searching heaven and earth for my very own Jamie. Of course not found, but since I didn’t even realize it...Well, let’s say I was doomed from the age of 10 years and on, destined to develop my crush on a more conscious level.
I would not make that mistake twice...or would I? It still rings clear, that speech of ma. He was too old for me. Why on earth did I fall for him and what was wrong with him to fall for a young girl like me? I knew, she didn’t understand and she never found out either. She doesn’t know I still love him and that we’re still having a hard time keeping our hands off of each other. And then, we’re not together. We don’t indulge ourselves in guilt filled tumblings. He’s there and I am here. That is as much as there is to it.
He would be my first and only man close enough to be a bit of a Jamie, however very much alive. Thankfully so. But he’s there and I am here. I am here all on my own staring out of my window to see the actors leaving the rehearsal room. That was as much I would see of them every day. Me and my colleagues always gathered behind the windows to peek and dream. Me with the tip of a pencil in my mouth at my window desk. My colleagues left some space for me to stare out of the window. I was always waiting for him to appear. I knew I wasn’t the only one, but I was sure I was the most eager one. With eyes dripping with unfulfilled dreams and longing for love. I was often told how desperate I looked, especially by my younger sister and my best friend. I should stop dreaming and try so hard.
I should not have made that move to London to fulfil my childhood dreams. I was not even sure what I was looking for. The only thing I knew was that my old lover was there, pun intended. And I knew there were theatres. I knew nothing about London’s theatres since my interest was more in relationships between people. That was why I loved theatre and films. I simply wanted to see what I was looking for, relationships. However I managed to find that one theatre where I knew he would be and somehow I managed to get into a team connected to that theatre. For the coming year, that would be perfect, I figured.
I remember the first time. I was trying to figure out a schedule they made and how to improve it. I was hunched over my desk, my nose practically merged with the screen, searching for the pitfalls and helpful indications. I was warned by Saffie, my colleague opposite of me at work and my best friend in London. She mysteriously figured out my obsession before I did, and she pointed out to me the actors were leaving and he would be among them. Not thinking anything of it and not expecting anything I caught my first glance and fell for him like brick.
My eyes must have been fixated on him; Saffie was sniggering. My cheeks must have coloured a bright red; I could feel it burn and Saffie was sniggering even harder. I turned away from the window and back to my screen trying hard to look as unimpressed as possible. I think I failed miserably. I stared at the screen blankly, not seeing anything. This was ridiculous. That man was more than half my age; he was my mother’s age. I didn’t fall in love with him. How could I from a distance. I had not a crush on him, because even though I tend to have an appetite for riper men, he was way too old for me. Also way too attached to someone else, but I didn’t know that at that moment. I had nothing to be ashamed of. Then why was Saffie still sniggering?
Ever since, every day was the same ritual. Every day Saffie warned me they, the actors, were leaving. Every day the other ladies in my office flogged around my desk behind the window to steal a peek. Every day my eyes fixated on him while my cheeks coloured a bright red making Saffie snigger. I was getting well fed up with it. I let this ritual happen for about two weeks, then I even started to dream about it and I was stupid enough to tell Saffie about it. She took every opportunity to remind me of it. Now I became to be known as the girl who is obsessed with Alan Rickman. I didn’t know squat about that guy. Unwittingly, Saffie forced me into diving into the matter so I could give my colleagues a good reason to nag me. If I had known I would fall completely and utterly in fascination with this man, I might have tried harder to resist.
Every evening in my little apartment I locked myself up in my room, partly to avoid contact with my annoying roommates, partly to do my research without being distracted and be bothered. The more I found about him, the more I got fascinated. I started ordering DVD’s and downloading every little titbit I could find. I started to build a collection of downloaded video’s, of pictures, of interviews and articles and of DVD’s. And all that effort started to invade my dreams at night, not just day anymore. It threw me off, but at the same time I craved for it. Thinking, fantasizing and dreaming. I started to see his face on other people while I was not able to see what I was looking for when comparing pictures of him from various periods and from various films. I told myself that was his quality as an actor.
In the meantime at the office I effectively gave my colleagues something to tease me with. I got caught reading articles and browsing through pictures. I became the ultimate AR-fangirl. Still I was withholding my position as a sane person by remaining seated whenever the actors were leaving for the day. My production may drop after I know he’s not in close proximity anymore. And I might be dreaming for hours out of the window after catching sight of him. I felt I was too old to behave like a fangirl.
I cannot really say what he does to me. I cannot explain how I feel when I stare into those photographed eyes or when I watch him walk across a room acting, saying his lines, expressing the character he’s playing. I can’t say what it is about him that makes the butterflies in my stomach wakening and flying like crazy. But they do every time I catch a glimpse of him, or when I hear him talk. I can hold myself pretty well at the sound of his name. I learned that by practice at office. My colleagues found out and are now playing sound bites to make me go useless and red. I fear my evaluation.
I came at a point where I am telling myself out loud to stop it. I came at a point where I am crying whenever I catch a glimpse of him. I don’t know why, I don’t know what makes me cry. I only know I just do. Or other times I’m just so damn happy, it’s ridiculous. Whenever I see those eyes and see that smile and hear that voice; I’m gone. I spent a good time fast fowarding and putting scenes on repeat while watching the Barchester Chronicles. To me it was impossible to decide how to feel about Mr. Slope. So young, so slender, so beautiful and yet so bad. That was what they were talking about when they said ‘hating to love him’. I discovered the true meaning of that line. If only he wasn’t as good at being so bad.
He started to come to me in my dreams. Sometimes just sitting there while I kept rambling on. Sometimes nearer, close to loving me and it was again me who kept rambling on. He was always the one listening and advising. He was always the one to tell me to do certain things, or to leave certain things; trying to regulate and order my life a little more. Much like Jamie to Nina. Not in Spanish though, for my Spanish is pretty much absent. He was always my companion. Strange, how close we always seemed to be and yet so far. After waking, I always felt a little deserted. I might have told that to Saffie; that he seemed to be my companion, my guardian angel. I don’t quite remember what I told her, but I do remember her laughing.
-- -- -- -- --
I glanced. I merely only glanced. Though reading his face, my face might have betrayed me. Cheeks as red as apples; beet red. I could feel them glow. I looked down at nothing in particular, because my shoes are not really worth the stare. It’s just that I was trying to get away from his eyesight, because I think he might know my dirty little fantasies and my daydreams full of fluff and pink coloured clouds. The blood was now draining from my face. If there is a reason for me not being guilty it’s for not wanting to falling in love with him. My intentions were honourable, my behaviour impeccable, but my feelings were playing silly little games with me. I must have looked like a ghost by now. I could not stand any longer the stinging of his eyes on my side way look away. I was not, for I did not check anymore since that first glance, so he might have been busy doing other things than staring at me. I hoped he was.
He was not. He saw me look at him and then he came to me. I tried to act surprise, as if I didn’t notice him before. Stupid, I am not an actress at all, I’m sure it came across as... I don’t know what. He certainly saw through me, but he didn’t show it; he was that polite.
He was genuinely interested and wondered out loud: “Don’t you work in the office here? I think I saw you before.”
My brains ran through every situation he might have seen me. It could have been any time. It could have been any time I was dreaming fiercely, missing the singing of birds, the passing of people and cars honking their horns. He might have seen me dreaming, I realized. Oh my god, he caught me dreaming about him. He might actually have heard me mumbling his name. Too late I realized he very well might have not. Too late, cause I already turned beat red. And ever since he approached me I was staring at him, intently without saying a word, not even answering his question.
“You’re all right, Miss?” he continued.
I attempted to regain my composure and answer him. It must have looked comical, me trying to straighten my back, groaning through the stiffness the office chair had given me whilst nearly falling all together. I realized I groaned which resulted in me moaning which really didn’t make it any better. The effect was the worried look on his face grew deeper and he was close to catching me and supporting me. I felt incredibly dumb. And another question I left unanswered. What a great first impression I was making, or actually a second impression. Doing the math made me want to groan again, but I managed to keep that one inside.
I forced out: “I’m okay,” it sounded like a weird squeak, nothing like me.
I didn’t dare to look him in the eyes again, afraid to be hypnotized, or mesmerized. How appropriate. How impolite as well. So I looked up at him trying my old trick and I smiled. The old trick made me notice immediately the raising of the one eyebrow. Damn, I was caught once more. How could I ever have a normal conversation with this man, while I want it so bad? Maybe my sister and friends were right, I should stop being so desperate.
“You need to go places?” he inquired. “Maybe you should sit down for a minute.”
He got hold of my arm before I realized it and he guided me to the flight of stairs leading up to the entrance of my office. I sat down with a blank expression on my face, or so I hope that was what I looked like. He sat down next to me close enough to come to the rescue when needed, but not invading my personal space. I breathed in deep then out as much as I could. The regaining my composure was finally happening. I felt the blood coming back to my cheeks and my brains. Thoughts started to form again. The whole situation was folding out in my brain and the realization of him sitting next to me in very close proximity was bleeding through. The fact that I made a fool of myself I filed away under the label ‘Possible’. I could have been feeling sick from the pollution from the cars on the street. Or I could have been just tired from working all day.
“I see you’re feeling a little better,” obviously Alan noticed the fresh flush of blood in my cheeks too.
I was finally able to look him in the eyes and answer: “Yes, I’m feeling much better, thank you.”
I could not look him in the eyes for too long, though. I was very much aware I was talking to Alan Rickman whom I had been obsessing about the last few months. An obsession I even didn’t ask for; thank you very much, Saffie! I felt the blood slowing leaving my head again and I breathed in, held on and let go. I stared at the cars lined up momentarily forgetting about the situation and wondering why they were honking; as if the car before them could provide the solution, but they were just as stuck.
“You want to drink some water?” Alan got a bottle with water from somewhere. “It might do you good,” he added.
I thankfully took the bottle from him and took a few sips. I could hear the city again, rough and loud and dirty. Charming in its own way. I felt like I was coming back to life. I took a few more sips before returning the bottle to Alan.
“Keep it,” he said stopping me with a small hand gesture.
I let him catch my eyes a second time: “Thank you,” I said with as much honesty in my voice as I could muster.
“You looked a little faint,” he explained his approach. “And I saw you before, I heard about you before,” he smiled gently. The words coming out carefully, but like glued between the word ‘before’ and the word ‘I’ as if he suddenly wanted to add something.
I tried hard not to listen too close, like I did in my room with the door locked. I always tend to swoon whenever I hear his voice. So powerful it is, his being.
Whenever he smiled at me, it was so deep so true and fair, so caring somehow.
“They made me curious, your colleagues,” the words rolled out smoothly.
“But also you; your presence. You always seem to be in deep thoughts. It made me wonder what occupied your attention so thoroughly.”
As if I was to tell him that. As if I was to tell him it was him that occupied my mind so thoroughly. Wait, Saffie and the others might have told him. The blood immediately rushed from my face, again. Quickly I lit my eyes up to the sky and breathed. I watched the leaves dancing on the branches of a nearby tree. I tried to spot birds, but there weren’t any. Then he slowly brought me back to earth.
“You don’t need to tell me; your thoughts are personal.”
I gave him a faint smile.
“You might have heard anyway, they love to gossip, I know.”
I couldn’t believe I just made the intro to revealing my badly kept secret. He might have understood what I said, what I was on about. It sure didn’t show in his eyes.
“U,” I whispered.
He stretched his neck a little towards me trying to hear what I said and encouraging me on at the same time.
“U were who occupied my thoughts,” I said a little louder.
He retreated, slightly embarrassed, looking at me with this intensity. I couldn’t pull away, his eyes held mine that strong.
“I saw u too,” I added. I had no clue where I was going with that.
I saw something of a smile returning, but the curiosity didn’t disappear.
I took another deep breath: “U’re an intriguing man.”
“Well, thank you very much. You’re a very intriguing young lady yourself.”
I could feel the air open up and the sun breaking through. It was something in his voice that moved the earth at will, make it do whatever was required. He took away all tension in only a few minutes. I felt strangely relaxed around him. I held myself pretty well for maybe except in the beginning of our meeting; I was already feeling proud of myself. I let my guard down, less than a second, and there it was; that feeling. Immediately I burst into tears. I could not breath, I lost control and I wept. I felt the tears falling down from my eyes, pouring down my cheeks in my hands. My hands were trying to keep up with the stream of sorrow and my embarrassment was growing. That didn’t help; it actually encouraged the flow of tears on. I was so busy trying to regain control and my dignity I didn’t notice he moved closer right next to me. He startled me by putting a hand gently on my shoulder.
-- -- -- -- --
The next day at office my colleagues had heard what happened. They just stared at me, concerned a little, but curious the most. I made chocolate coffee like every morning and ignored them. I walked through the office to my own desk and sat down without saying a word, not even ‘Good morning’. Saffie looked up from her work, looking just as concerned as the others had. She understood I didn’t want to talk about it, she said: “You’re a little late today.” I nodded and logged on. I took the time the system needed to load my profile to try and empty my head. I planned to forget about him, at least for today. As if that was possible. I dreaded the moment they were leaving for the day. I decided to ignore it for now and find a way to deal with that later. I might take a walk away from the window. I might just ignore it, if I could. After my sob story on that stairs, I felt way too embarrassed to face him.
I was logged on for several minutes, yet I had only stared at my screen. I noticed Saffie looking up from time to time checking the situation. This situation lasted for another 30 minutes, then Saffie stood up, walked over to my desk and pulled me away out of the office into the hallway. I felt paralysed. Nothing of my plan worked out this morning. Not one second I managed to not think of the day before. The things I should have done. The things I should have said. About how embarrassing it was. How he even took the bus with me and brought me home. I cried the whole ride. How he delivered me into the hands of my sniggering roommate. Little did he know that roommate was going to use it against me. I’m not sure I thanked him; if I did, it probably was hardly understandable. All that played through my head the whole morning.
“What happened?” Saffie asked incredilous. She knew what happened. “You really cried? Why?”
I leaned against the wall my hands behind my back. I didn't know, or at least I wasn't quite sure. Why would I cry? He was my hero, my inspiration, my idol. I should have been exhilarated, excited, or at least happy. I think I was in a way, but why the cry? He wasn't mean to me, he didn't offend me or hurt me. He was nothing but nice and charming to me, helpful even, understanding and supporting. Why I cried? I honestly couldn't wrap my mind around it.
Saffie grabbed me by my shoulder and shook me to get my attention. “What's wrong with you?” she breezed in my face. I pulled away and walk away a little, restless.
“I don't know, Saf,” I admitted.
“I have no clue why I cried, it just burst out and I couldn't stop. I didn't do it on purpose. You even realize how embarrassing it was for me?”
Saffie shook her head, no she didn't realize how embarrasing. She observed me for some moments letting me drift away on another cloud of thoughts, memories and fantasies about how it had should been. Then out of the blue she spoke again: “All because of me pointing him out to you?”
I nodded almost invisibly. Saffie continued: “Had I known you'd react like this I would have thought twice of telling you about him.”
Something became very clear to me all of a sudden. I turned to Saffie: “No, you were right for telling me.”
“You still think that after having dripped all over him?”
I shrugged: “I don't know why, but it was a good thing you told me.”
“Okay,” Saffie gave up.
And honestly, there was no point in trying to get anything out of me. I could say nothing more than what was seen or what I said already. Saffie pointed towards the office door: “I'm going back to work, but if you want to wander, I'll cover for you.”
I smiled my first smile for the day and thanked her. I turned and walked away without waiting. I don't know where I was going. I felt like I was walking aimlessly, but my foot determined direction. They took me outside right up to the theatre. My head stopped my feet right in front of the door before entering. Why here? What was I expecting to find? What did I want to do or say? He was in there, I knew it, but I didn't know what? Not me to him; I wasn't ready. I mean, I didn't even know what was going on with me. Then how should I explain to him? Somewhere in between thoughts my feet disobeyed and marched in. I found myself in the back of the theatre facing the stage and stopping rehearsals. I was noticed; maybe the wind blowing in when I opened the door gave me away. I spotted him on the stage. He saw me, he was already coming off stage. I felt an urge to run, but my feet disagreed; I stayed where I was. And he was there, right in front of me. He looked me up and down, then came back to my eyes. He turned at the director who in silence agreed with a short break. Then he got hold of my arm again and gently pushed me outside.
By the time we reached a dressing room I was shaking and nearly back in the state I had been the night before. Shaking and close to crying. What was happening to me? Why were the tears in my eyes searching hard for a way out every time he was near? It made no sense, not even with it all happening all over again. I doubted I would get back to working at all that day. I sat there clenching my fists not looking at him. I heard him walking around, getting a glass and filling it with water. I heard him walking to me and sitting down quietly. He put the filled glass in front of me.
“Is it something I do? Is it something I said?” he asked his voice full of empathy.
“Yes No,” I completely incomprehensible smiled. “I thought I'd show you my smile this time.” I showed him the worst and biggest possible grin I could give him. It probably looked incredibly cheesy. I figured it was nothing better than the crying, though I was glad I managed to keep the water inside.
With a concerned frown on his face he mumbled: “That's nice.” He was obviously not convinced. I could kick myself for the umpteenth time.
My smile wore off a little; I felt the corners of my lips trembling and gradually downing. He looked at me quizzically, as if he was trying to see something, to see through me, like I tried to look through him whenever I saw him leaving the theatre. I looked away from him, my fake smile still on. I tried to concentrate on the words in my head trying to form phrases. There were so many things I wanted to say to him. There were so many things I wanted him to know, but all of it escaped me. I studied the posters in the dressing room. Most promotional posters for plays; some signed, some smudged. I thought I recognized a few plays, but I might be mistaken. One of those things, the plays, I wanted him to know how much I enjoyed his work. I turned my attention back to him; he was still looking at me quizzically. I put on my cheesy grin again and squeaked way too excited: “I love your work!”
Was I really yelling at him? Instead of apologizing for the sheer volume I grew my grin even bigger. A bit more and my face would split in two.
“Thank you,” he said with a sincerity I had never heard before. It made me go: “Awwwwww.”.
His eyebrows twitched momentarily: “Excuse me?”
The volume of my voice not decreasing I repeated: “Awwwwww”.
“That's one of the things I admire about your work; whenever you do or say something it sounds sincere....Like that 'thank you' from just then.”
Why did I sound like a squirrel on crack?
“You see,” I continued in a desperate attempt to explain to him what I had been feeling for the past couple of weeks. “I always knew I like you.” I felt my own grin disfiguring into a grimace; I couldn’t believe I said that lame phrase. “It’s something about you. The way you carry yourself. The way you act. The way you say things.”
He was waiting for the conclusion, I could see it. His head a little titled and his eyes squeezed while looking at me in an utter state of concentration, as if he tried to solve a puzzle. He was looking right through me with that intense gaze.
“Every time I watch a film or play with you in it....it’s so fascinating, you’re so fascinating. I’m always trying to see something, but I never can.”
“What are you trying to see?” he joined the conversation. The smoothness of his voice, however known by me, threw me off once more.
I was at a loss for words after that ramble. I had been talking like a headless chicken, on and on about what exactly? If even I didn’t know, then why was I trying to explain to him? After a few moments contemplation I decided: “You. I’m trying to see you.”
“Me?” he wondered with a surprised look on his face.
I realized how unclear that answer was and I added: “I don’t know.”
He was sitting there opposite me with a straight back, his hands folded on the table in front of him. He was clearly thinking about it, a concentration knit formed between his eyes, his mouth slightly opened as if he was to say something any time soon.
He repeated my answer: “You’re trying to see me when I’m playing a role?”
My answer made less and less sense to myself, but I confirmed with a nod of my head.
“I thought...,” he started, then paused. He narrowed his eyes even more, but never took them off of me. I could almost see the words forming in his head and rolling down from his tongue.
After a short break he continued: “I thought I was supposed to portray a character other than myself.”
I agreed nodding.
“And yet,” he spoke slowly and carefully, “you’re trying to see me,” emphasizing the word ‘me’.
I nodded and said: “I suppose me not seeing you, is a sign you are good at your profession.”
I saw something of a smile break through: “That was the most complicated compliment I have ever had.”
-- -- -- -- –
I told him I had no clue and then ran. At that moment I couldn’t think of anything sensible to say to him. It was far from crystal clear to me. It was far from what I thought I had to do. It had nothing to do with me telling him how much I admired his work. It had nothing to do with the fact that he rekindled my interest in theatre and literature. It had more to do with me going somewhere; with me finding a truth to move on. I wasn’t there yet, not even close. I felt further away then even before I managed to have a bit of a normal conversation with him. I was glad, however, to not have wept again in his presence. Maybe I might come off as at least a little sane. Though I had the distinct feeling I was not to leave his memory very soon. I do not expect him to develop some kind of liking for me closer than for other fans. I don’t expect to make an everlasting impression on him, for I am probably one of the many crazed idiots he has ever encountered. I hope I will find what I was looking for and he is not too bothered about me hogging his time.
I went for a walk after I ran out of the theatre; I needed to be alone. Whenever I had not the chance to gaze into his eyes or to watch him do whatever he was doing, I had trouble picturing him. He was like an apparition to me. He came and went leaving me feeling excited, hot, confused; mainly confused. Whenever I couldn’t see his face before me, I felt strangely empty and searching for him. I had whole conversations with him; better versions of the actual meetings. I was growing a love and a pain so real to me, I thought I was going insane, at last.
I let the wind blow my face while I walked through the park. Why couldn’t my life be as easy as that girl’s with the cute handbag? Or like that guy’s who’s playing with his phone. My grandma always said that everybody carries his or her own cross. Nobody is freed from the quarrel that is life; we all live it, we all suffer it, or celebrate it for that matter. I was on the verge of drowning in it. I could not look at anyone without thinking mischief or foul things. I choose to retreat in my own world were something of Alan’s being, or more his likeness was there to comfort me. I was certainly losing it to my own make believe world where I didn’t need to reach so far to find my partner. At the same time I was very well aware of the absence of such person besides me. And knowing that whatever I made up to be Alan was only a silly game I for some reason tried to believe in contrary to what I told myself to do, and even what Alan told me to do in my overnight sleepless dreams. I was going down, I let the current of my subconscious drag me down. I felt like falling midst a waterfall. To save a little bit of sanity and dignity, I went back to the office.
My head in my hands, I rubbed my eyes with my wrists pushing too hard. I saw colourful circles and spots appear on the inside of my eyes. I thought I could see the blood in my eyes squeeze and circle away from my iris. When I removed my wrists away from my face and stared at the screen I saw nothing but dark spots and a world behind it blurring and focusing. I saw Saffie looking at me with her cuppa tea close to her mouth. She was taking little sips and hadn’t asked me where I had been all morning. She didn’t ask me why I looked like I ran a marathon or why my eyes had red and dark lines around. She let me be while I sat down trying to wipe out all the coffee stains on my desk and the distracting thoughts in my head. Upon logging on he was the first to gaze at me; I forgot I made him my wallpaper. He shocked me. It was like he looked at me accusing, or knowing what I had been doing and most of all, what I had been thinking. For the first time, I told him to piss off.
“Amanda called,” Saffie’s voice seemed to come from far. “I told her you’d call back asap.”
-- -- -- -- –
It was a weird day. The whole afternoon I thought of him, but from a distance. I don’t think I was really there doing my job, though I did my job more perfect than ever before. It was the strangest way of concentration. Every time I let my guard down, there was that voice telling me to stop being such an idiot and get on with it. I paid no attention to the tone of the voice, only the words. It worked well enough for me to get through that day. I was actually quite contented with my achievements for the day and decided I deserved to lock myself up with a film. I had, by now, a huge collection of films, plays and tv appearances in my playlist. I opened my playlist every evening scrolling through it and playing whatever I pleased to see. I spent hours, till deep into the night, watching and studying him every move and listening to the sweet tones. I could lose myself in that voice. I ignored warning lights in my head.
I had well indulged myself in letting myself sucked in the film, seemingly disappearing physically. Someone knocked my door. That was not normal. It startled me so bad, my heart had jumped up and was now blocking my throat keeping me from breathing, talking, spitting, anything. I just sat there staring at the door feeling like my eyeballs were about to pop out. I could not think of anyone stupid enough to try and break my evening; the time of day, together with the night, that was only and truly mine. It was sacred for I didn’t need to respond to anyone, for I didn’t need to justify anything to anyone, for it was my only truly time off.
“Hello?” a familiar voice drawled.
My heart skipped a beat and the tones made me check my playlist to be on pause; it was.
“I know my visit is unethical, but I was a bit worried about you; you ran off so quickly. Are you all right?”
My eyes grew wide when I realized it really was him. I couldn’t believe it. Wait, he had been here before, only at the outside in front of our front door delivering me into the arms of my empathy dead roommate. I didn’t like him to know where I lived. I was well aware of my behaviour I had practised in front of him so far. I was not decent, half undressed; I was only wearing a wide t-shirt. The next series of knocks made me leap to my feet to find my jeans. Flashes of thoughts going through my head, like the incomprehensible text above.
“Hello, are you in there?”
Yes, yes, I am in here. I wrestled myself into my jeans as quickly as I could. In the process I made a mess of the pile of clothes on a chair and I managed to knock over an empty glass. I was out of breath when I finally got to the door and opened it. I was met with those hazel eyes flickering in the dim light coming out of my room. I fell short of breath and let him in without a word. He ventured in having a bit a look around. There was not much to see; my room was fairly small and the walls were surprisingly bare. I had one framed Queen poster resting beside the door half behind a cabinet. Behind it I stuck another poster of Jason Mraz which coloured nicely with my purple walls. Both posters standing on the floor; nothing hanging on my walls. The only evidence I was that crazed fangirl that had been bothering him the last couple of days were me and the pile of DVD’s on top of some papers close to my computer screen. And the screen with paused on it a fragment of the Preacher; my sin of the moment.
He turned around to me and smiled: “It’s cosy.”
It really was cosy, even though the walls were bare. That was one of my talents, to make cosy wherever I was. Everybody always wanted to take over my rooms, even my desk at work. And whenever they do, it turns out they can’t recreate my cosiness. It’s one of my better traits.
I was still standing at the door. The door closed, cause I don’t handle open doors very well. He was standing in between my bed and my desk, because frankly, much more room there wasn’t. He was looking at me in that way again. If I detached myself enough, I could look down on myself and him, see him watching. Why was he looking at me like that? If I detached myself enough, I could look down on him and fall in love all over again safely. I was in some sort of state of detachment. I heard myself telling him to sit down, asking him if he wants something to drink, apologizing for my behaviour. Courteous. I was looking at myself doing all that, all detached.
He sat down on the chair behind my desk, I sat down on the bed. It was low and I had to look up at him. He was looking at me, but not down, because it simply wasn’t his style. I saw the expression of concern in his eyes. I saw the expression of fascination in his eyes. A sincere interest, an honest devotion. So much in those eyes. Even though detached, I saw it all mingle. It showed in his voice whenever he spoke. He asked me what happened. I answered I didn’t know and that I was sorry I ran out of him; that was never my intention. He told me he was a little worried about me, that he had the feeling I was struggling with something. I obviously was. I smiled. I averted my eyes. I tried to hide. Alan took the liberty to take control and I let him.
“It seems to me you’re not trying to tell me something; you’re trying to tell yourself something.”
“It has not that much to do with me, does it?”
I shook my head. I shrugged. I honestly wasn’t sure.
“Is it something you want to say?” He studied my face trying to find any muscle twitch, any reaction.
“Is it something you want?” And again. I tried to keep still.
“Are you looking for something, or someone?”
Then he paused. I relaxed a little.
“What do you do to unwind?” he tried a different approach.
A relieved deep sigh escaped me before speaking: “I listen music. I watch films or plays. I write. I read. I surf the Internet.”
He whirled around to my screen on which the Preacher was still waiting for me to allow him to carry on. Alan looked at it for a while, as if he tried to remember the occasion, or maybe the many takes it took to get the monologue on tape. He turned back to me slowly; the words came just as slowly: “You enjoy stuff like that?” He pointed his thumb backwards to the screen.
“Yes, I certainly do.”
“What kind of stuff do you read?”
I blushed since the stuff I was reading was all fanfic and him-related. Some of it was saucy. Some of it was wistful thinking and fantasizing. Some of it went far. I sure didn’t want him to know what I was reading at the present time.
He looked around my room to see what books I had. I had some old literature I never came round to read. I had some new literature which is still on my ‘To Read’ list. And I had loads of religion based, astrology based and dictionary books. My secret passions. I could see he was surprised to find those.
“You’re a Catholic?” the tiny prayer books and tiny bible on the shelf inspired the question.
“Some sort of,” my answer was. He turned around to look at me with that typical frown.
“What is ‘Some sort of’?”
“I was raised a Catholic, but I don’t practice Catholicism anymore.”
“Then you’re not a Catholic, not even ‘Some sort of’.”
“That’s not entirely true, sir.”
“Sir? Please, call me Alan.”
“I’m sorry....Alan,” I must have looked like it pained me to say his name. I was brought up with a strong believe in etiquettes and using his name instead of the proper title made me cringe; I respect him too much to call him by his first name.
He was checking out the other pocket sized books on my shelf while he encouraged me: “Go on, explain yourself.”
“I live and I think based on my Catholic background. Though, I try to open up to other faiths and ideas.”
“How does that work out for you?”
“Very interesting, Sir.”
Alan turned around again cued by the word ‘Sir’.
“I’m sorry, Sir, I just can’t.”
“Very well,” he studied my face like he had done so many times before. I still couldn’t read his eyes. He remained silent for a while not taking his eyes off of me. Eventually he turned his attention back to my pocket books and questioning me: “I see you’re interested in astrology?”
“Oh, I only read the occasional horoscope.”
“You believe in it?” he doesn’t look at me; he’s looking my bookcase up and down.
“You’re a master in giving vague answers.”
“That’s because the concept of life is rather vague to me.”
“Not just to you, honey,” he finally finished studying my poor excuse for literature and he sits down to face me.
“It seems you’re setting yourself a whole lot of questions and riddles to solve,” the concerned look had changed a little. He was not as much worried anymore as much as compassionate.
“I wouldn’t do so if I hadn’t a good reason to,” I defended myself.
“What’s the reason?” I could have known, I should have expected that question. Still, to me, the answer was just as vague as all the other answers I had given so far. I could try not to answer the question, but without even saying anything he urged an answer from me: “I’m trying to grow.”
Another long pause and those unreadable eyes unfolding my being, being me. And his mouth; I feel I should say something about his mouth. Like he’s pressing his lips together tightly into thin stripes and the corners of his mouth hook up like a silent laugh. Never an outburst, always controlled. Whatever he allows to escape through these lips, it hurts a little; like they have already gone where I didn’t manage to get.
“Growing to what, to be what?” All words roll out thoughtfully and stinging me. They force me to think deeper.
“To be...I don’t know,” I shrug.
“You’re telling me you could be just as well growing into a bad person?” he provokes me; I grimace and retort: “I don’t see it like that. I just want certain things and I’m trying to get it, or...get there.”
He falls back in defence for a split second, but doesn’t act on it. Instead he bares his teeth and laughs quietly. I feel like I’m having Hans Gruber in my room and I want him out. Soon the Hans Gruber kind of feeling is gone; Alan settles back in his chair looking at me. There’s something of amusement in his eyes.
“Well,” he says quite relaxed: “You’ve got me there.”
Another long pause where our eyes play games. We’re studying each other trying to find out what the other is thinking. Adjusting composure, straightening back. Faces still, eyes darting from left to right, up and down. Every time I try to see where his eyes have wandered his stares gets hold on me. Only a few seconds before I can pull away and avert my eyes. He makes no sound, shows not he’s contented winning the game over and over, but I know he is. I can’t play that game much longer.
Alan picks up where he left off: “You’re interested in theatre?”
My eyes trail to my book shelves giving away my inside wonderment.
“By the condition of the books and the sort of books you own, you don’t seem very interested in literature.”
Shameful I admit: “I must admit, I don’t read as much any more.”
“However, you seem to be interested in personal development and stories, might I say?”
He learned me already, within an hour, like a script. “Yes, you might say. I believe human relationships make up the stories that are told. And we’re living right in the middle of it.”
He nods in that quiet manner. He knows you’re on to something and he agrees. I see Jamie. It startles me, he sees it like he saw everything this evening.
“You’ve got to tell me,” the concerned somewhat bewildered tone is back in his voice: “What is it that startles you? I saw it happening a few times now. It just happened.”
I could not tell. Still not. I could give him another vague explanation. I did: “You remind me of someone.”
“Someone close to you?”
“No,” I shake my head, worried he finds out like he always seems to do.
“A character I played?”
The truth of his guess in combination with that knowing voice startles me again, unwittingly giving him the answer.
Was I ever to admit I had a thing for Jamie? The way he tackled every random thought coming from my brain made me suspect more questions were to come. I was not going to be left off the hook easily. I suppose I would not accept being given up on, but still. Frightened of his methods, the way he seemed to look through me kept me from responding. He was not to give up. He was still looking at me.
“Which one?” I repeated buying me some more time.
He half smirks: “You really need to think about that?”
No, of course not. I shrug, buying more time. I try to procrastinate. Me the ever procrastinator. I'm glad to have learned at least one word which would describe me aptly. I know he knows it too. Damn man with all his wisdom and life experience. We're playing a new game here; who is most patient, or most persistent? I might take a nap with him right here in my room. I can go to sleep; the bed is right beneath my ass, my sheets already turned over. He's in my room, far from his own bed. How long would he stay if I actually did it, if I actually went to bed? I can't see him sit there all night, though I read somewhere he's an insomniac. With me being one too, I would not rest very easy, as if I ever can. He might actually stay the night to pry it out of me when I slipped into a dream. He would also find out I always dream about him. Damn man with all his wisdom and life experience and his insomnia.
I feel uneasy and cornered. Why is this confession so hard to make? Is there more to it? I confess, out of the blue: “Jamie.”
He reacts all right, but I don't know what it means. His eyebrows lifted, but soon slowly falling till his face is back in resting position. He pauses, like always. I'm waiting for the next question. Maybe I should answer it before he can ask.
“Why Jamie?” I interrupted him, I saw him open his mouth to ask. “I'm not sure. He seems nice.”
A silent laugh escapes him, short and breezing air. His gaze as intense as I grew used to it. It seems once again he's one step ahead in the game. He doesn't ask anymore, he let me answer all the questions without asking the questions.
“He's more my age, isn't he?”
He shakes his head slightly.
Another silent laugh escaping him.
“You make me nervous.”
He tilts his head, still looking at me. He became the annoying therapist who makes you pay to do your own analysis, the bastard.
“You could be him,” I try to get something out of him, but he gives me nothing but those meaningful glares.
I can't stand the silences and start rambling: “Why Jamie? Because. Because it was something that reminded me of Jamie. Jamie, y'know. Obviously, you look like him. I just saw something, okay, that's it.”
“Why did it startle you?” His voice startled me again, like I had been talking to a cardboard cutout that suddenly came to life.
“I don't know.”
“He might be a ghost, but he's harmless.”
This time it's me who sniggers. “Nearly suffocating someone is hardly harmless.”
“Sometimes you have to hold on tight to set someone free.”
He gets up: “Let's continue this conversation tomorrow.”
I look up at him, my jaw dropped: “Tomorrow?”
“Yes, tomorrow. Then you have some more time to think about it.”
Those looks became a little too familiar for my liking, but I still under them. It comforts me somehow. It's liberating.