Monday, 2 March 2009

VSS I: Compensation

The look on his face tore all the way through her. She thought to herself that her soul (if it did exist) was being crippled daily, just by being in his presence.

She left home with a shudder each morning and returned unsure if she'd have the strength to face what was left of him; the part which had muddied the convenience and social standing to which she was accustomed. He had always been drastically different from her in a way that seemed charming at first, but just became awkward after a while. She had once told herself that she was in love with him. It was all too easy to assume that this was only because there just wasn't anyone else. She wasn't a girl who had crushes. She fell in love with concepts, but rarely did a man catch her attention. A gallery or a coffee shop or a boutique or a philosophical question or a look shared between a bus driver and a school boy could hold her heart for a day, but it was impractical to share a heart with something so complex as another human being. And she had to be practical.

Perhaps that was where it started. She longed to return to her former state; a state in which her own plans could flourish and she would always receive the accolades. Why should anyone share in her vision? She'd never needed that and it seemed to her that it was only by accident that he was there at all. She just needed to reverse what had happened. She just had to figure out exactly what that was.

She'd reached out to him. At least a little. His vulnerability had brought out her own. It seemed obvious that the opposite of that first catalyst would be to fling him back into his ocean of insecurity (everyone has a pond or a pool of it in the back yard, or at their parents' house, but his ocean spilled into other people's lives as he bobbed to stay afloat). She'd come at a time when he had nearly given up trying to keep his head above water.

She did just that. It scared her for a moment, watching his face contort and his body fold in two. She'd had to replace the rug in the lounge room because of the blood stains. Everything hadn't exactly gone to plan. He still lingered. He wasn't holding her back socially anymore, but it was uncomfortable to be in her own home for too long. He left trails where he walked, as blood lead from the bedroom, the bathroom and the lounge to the kitchen and finishing back at the bedroom. Although the trail never ventured near the front door.

She lost sleep thinking of him patrolling the corridors. She wasn't scared. It just wasn't a pleasant thought. He never even knocked on her door. At first he tried to make eye contact, but it had been months since he'd last tried. She once caught him looking through her photo albums.

At work she couldn't keep still. When coworkers asked her questions, she ushered them out of the office with the first answer she could find. The company of other people made her nervous. She didn't want to give away what was weighing on her mind.

She took her time getting her things together at the end of the day as she looked out the office windows at the trees that stood nearly doubled over from the wind. She thought of when his body had done the same. It just couldn't continue. She needed a long-term solution. She walked through the park, past the gates of the Botanical Gardens. A cyclist in a grey uniform cut her off on the track and she jumped to the side. Her eyes followed his back pack as he skidded around the corner. He jumped the side of the path to take a short cut through a grove of trees. Screams came from the foliage. She shivered, then pulled the collar of her jacket up and hunched against the wind. It didn't cover her ears, but at least her neck wasn't so cold. she rounded the other side of the trees and saw his bike, one wheel missing. She looked down at the path and noticed she'd scraped her shoes on the gravel track. "Shit," she swore and quickened her pace.

Her mind raced. Was she strong enough to force him out of her home? Was it time to get the police involved? Or should she just file a law suit against him? The image of him pacing never left her. Surely this warranted some kind of compensation. So many areas of her life had changed for the worse because of him. How could he be so selfish?

It was all ok, though. When she walked through the front door she found him sitting down. He was seated at the kitchen table, face down on a newspaper with one arm resting on the table and the other limp by his side. Apparently he'd starved to death.

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