Day 21 Prompt – He or she sees their crush in a library. Describe the incident.
It was a quarter to six and Sheila was on her own in the main library. The only other people were the six or seven members of the Tuesday night painting class that were in one of the little meeting rooms upstairs. Sheila stood behind the counter and waited, fighting the ache that was strumming in her forehead. She put her hands flat on the desk, palms down, spreading her fingers as wide apart as she could, stretching them ever wider till she felt the sting. She knew the pain would dull the pressure in her head, it always did. She’d known that for a long time now. Pain was good; pain took away the fear and made tiny little lightning bolts sizzle in her blood.
She looked at the clock, then at the stairs, her eyes flitting wildly between the two. The hands of the clock slowly moved on, seven fifty four. A tiny bead of sweat settled on her brow, she didn’t move. She focused on the second hand hitting its target and moving to the next. She spread her fingers wider. The skin pulled tight, nearly opaque and a second bead of sweat merged with the other. She welcomed the pain.
Seven fifty five, she shot a glance back at the stairs. He always finished the class just before eight. They were coming down; chatting, laughing, heads huddled close. A haze of colour hit the corner of Sheila’s eye, shades of red and vivid blue, patchwork bags and floating skirts mingled into a mass of motion descending the open cased stairwell. Nobody looked her way. The browns and the fawn of her heavy set two piece made her almost invisible against the backdrop of books on the dark shelving behind her.
As the heavy front doors shut loudly behind the departing group, Sheila felt herself relaxing. She lifted her hands and let the pins and needles seep through her fingers. She closed her eyes for a second, savouring the discomfort of the blood rushing back into her fingers. A heady surge of pleasure hit between her legs. She shuddered.
Then she saw him, the teacher, Jack Marsden; the one man she had loved all her life, the only man who would ever really know her. She knew he felt the same, or he would once he realised it was destiny and they were meant to be together. She would make sure he knew. She shuddered again. With the key in his hand he raised his arm to the lock and the muscular shape of his back stretched tautly against his T-Shirt. She could see him sideways on and caught the side of his square cut chin, the tiny indent of a dimple that flickered in his cheek and the sexy little lines at the corner of his eyes. He turned around without looking up and absently dropped the key into the safe box by the door. He still had his head down, rummaging through his backpack as he came down the stairs. Sheila didn’t move. She watched the stone wash of his jeans strain against his well-defined quads as he took the stairs in clean solid movements.
He still had his hands in his bag and head down as he left, too busy to notice Sheila grabbing her handbag, flicking off the computer and following him out. Once outside Sheila quickly double locked the library doors, dropped the keys into her handbag and pulled the collars of her overcoat up against the bitter night air. She watched Jack continue to search for something inside his back pack as he turned the corner and out of sight. Sheila gave a quick check in her handbag, yes everything there, snapped it shut and followed him round the corner.
She knew the route, she’d followed it a thousand times. She knew every shop that they passed, every car that was parked in the resident only parking bays and every window of the converted mill that overlooked the canal. She twisted slightly in the darkness and went over on her ankle. She flinched and grabbed for the corner of a bench that sat on the towpath. She sat down and re-arranged the strap of her sensible brown work shoe, rubbing her ankle and cursing the council for the state of the pavement. Then she saw the light go on in his apartment. She straightened up and sat back on the bench opening her bag. She reached in, her eyes never leaving the 2nd floor room. She laid the bundle on her knees and slowly un-wrapped it. Picking up one of the cheese sandwiches she took a bite then reached for the flask of tea she’d made earlier. She was always prepared.
Sheila was just about to reach for the other half of the sandwich when she saw the second shadow inside the apartment. She froze for a second, and then went for the binoculars in her bag. Her hands twisted tightly round the frame and the pressure in her head came back. She caught the silhouette of a woman move towards the window and saw Jack close the distance between them. Shelia twisted her hands tighter. Then she saw them kiss. Sheila swallowed. Her hand went back into the handbag and she felt the cold steel edge of the knife as it razored across her fingers. She gripped the blade harder and welcomed the pain.
Sheila’s mother always used to say “be prepared” and Sheila always listened to her mother. After all it was mother who said she would marry Jack Marsden, they were seven and neighbours before dad left with Aunty Mary and they had to move house. They never found out who stabbed Aunty Mary outside the bingo hall eight years later, or why a half- eaten cheese sandwich was left at her side. Sheila stood up, straightened her coat and walked towards the apartment, knife in one hand and cheese sandwich in the other.