2nd draft of my first attempt at fiction writing after suggestions for editing.
53 Schrodinger Close;
A Very Short Story by OOK_Librarian (2nd Draft)
It began when he was trying to do something normal, she smiled as they passed on the escalator, where he assumed a rather awkward pose on the descending side, he put this down to a relativistic effect rather than just the handrail moving faster than the stairs, an escape really, part of his habit of trying to relate every tiny daily experience to that mother of all sciences, physics, which he used to so enjoy teaching. She had beautiful red hair, wore denim dungarees, purple Doctor Marten boots, and carried decorating paraphernalia in a basket. He began to speculate, is she giving her home a makeover or sprucing up her student digs? He looked down at his own aging cherry red Doc’s, a fashion statement from a happier time, dismounted the escalator and remounted the ascending steps. Inexplicably, he decided to follow her. Back in the decorating section he found himself doing that characteristic pose ”older” men do, the DIY sage, stroking his white beard learnedly, longing for an opportunity to advise……….Kiera, yes, Kiera, that’s her name, on a suitable product. He noticed her small tattoos, some images, others script, each one perfectly situated and thought through, the product of a creative and artistic mind. Maybe he isn’t the right person to give her advice on colour schemes and a design for her room.
She walked down the aisle and had to manoeuvre sideways to squeeze pass him to get to the wall paper paste section. “Sorry,” she said in that very British manner, even though she had done nothing wrong, she smiled and carried on to inspect the plastic sachets of glue. In her wake was the scent of flowers and youthfulness and she had a faint dialect; he couldn’t place it with just that one word. Black Sennheiser ear buds were partially hidden by her hair, what was she listening to? She must be a music enthusiast, those ear buds cost serious money to buy. Would he know the band? Is she listening to an ingeniously constructed playlist relevant to decorating her flat/house? It’s guaranteed not to be anything he would enjoy; he only listened to acoustic stuff now, playing along to it with his battered guitar…… And there’s a small green leather bound notebook in her back pocket. Could she be an author or artist? No, it’s likely just to be something mundane, maybe a shopping list or a diary?
It was at this point as this chance encounter with Kiera unfolded, that his attempt at discrete long distance observation could have become mistaken for stalking, as she walked briskly off in the direction of shower accessories. Now, it may have looked like he was wearing jeans that were a little too tight for him and a short sleeve tartan shirt whose buttons strained slightly around his stomach, but actually he was wearing his middle age stealth suit. This is a technology which renders the wearer invisible to young women, not that all men in their fifth century are looking for younger female attention you understand, but this particular piece of equipment in his arsenal could prove useful. So there he was, checking out the shower curtains, and there she was, checking out the shower curtains, her hair, tousled in a stylish way, falling over her face, a charming flick of her head, allowed her to see the price of the shower curtain. A small stud gleamed on the side of her nose, hooped earrings peeped through mini ringlets in her hair, a simple plain blue slightly crumpled tee shirt under her dungarees, lifted briefly to reveal the pale skin of her torso, one tattoo was now discernible, it was an artistic interpretation of……the Schrodinger Equation? Today’s meds clearly hadn’t worked as his already thumping heart rate amplified further. They had something in common. Kiera must be a physicist! Surely no one from another profession would have that particularly complex, rather beautiful equation, formulated back in the 1920’s tattooed?
Should he comment on her tattoo? In his mind he rehearsed some options, “Nice tattoo, does it relate to your work?” “Lovely ink, do you enjoy physics?” “Black is a good colour for a shower curtain, it absorbs all the wavelengths of visible light.” Then in that instant, almost in slow motion, she dropped the shower curtain! This was his opportunity to seize this moment, recognise it, act on it before it was gone.
“Oops, I’ll get that for you.” he said, clumsily.
He picked up the package and handed it back.
“Why, thanks.” She said, with a velvety sounding Irish parlance.
“My stealth suit must be broken, she’s seen me.” He thought. Perfect green eyes matched the Celtic hue of her hair and timbre of her dialect.
“No problem.” he replied, pushing his glasses back onto his nose.
“Go on ask her, Go on ask her, Go on ask her!” chant his neurones, flushed with adrenaline at the fact she had seen and spoken to him.
“Hope you don’t mind me asking,” he heard himself saying in that *brought up in a middle class home in the 60’s* kind of way, “But I couldn’t help noticing your amazing tattoo of the Schrodinger equation, do you work as a physicist?”
“I do!” she replied in a soft baritone cadence of Irish tones. “I’m a Phd student at the University.” “Do you work in the only proper science too?”
What just happened? A slightly greying ex-physics teacher was having a conversation with this stunning young woman, who in his middle age World, he had been innocently stalking for the past ten minutes. The apparently unattainable had happened. But, wait. Why? How did this happen? He has a partner, isn’t looking for another relationship, has children of his own and is old enough to be her father. And yet here he is, finding himself mesmerised under the spell of a complete stranger. This particular Saturday afternoon fantasy had taken an unexpected direction. The stealth suit had clearly worked during stage one of this unplanned encounter; he was invisible to Kiera, the striking flame haired physics goddess in denim. Stage two, is where she sees him as no more than the old bloke who picked up the shower curtain she dropped, and realistically, in that deep corner of his brain, that’s probably all he wanted her to see him as, because he was suddenly nervous, gawky, with the body language of a teenage boy delivering his first chat up line.
“Yes,” he lied, “I….I teach at the High School.”
“Awesome.” Her words smiled and danced towards him.
And with that, her phone message tone sounded, an R2D2 warble, she removed the phone from her pocket, checked the screen, replied to the message with her thumbs, (natural nails he noticed, nice, no varnish), smiled, and said, “Must go, good talking to you.” Walked off to the checkouts, and joined the short queue.
His stealth suit powered back up and once again he was invisible to her. He watched from a distance as she made her purchase, arranged her items in a carrier bag and mounted the escalator, her beautiful hair slowly disappearing from his view like the setting sun as she descended towards the ground floor, the store’s exit and the home she was going to decorate.
He hoped she’d look back at him and simultaneously dreaded she’d look back at him.
He wasn’t sure where it came from and it certainly wasn’t reciprocated but, the fleeting moment of fantasy that a young woman whose physical appearance tugged at his soul, also felt some attraction to him was now both alive and dead. He speculated how this established a perceptible conflict between what his mind was telling him about the nature and behaviour of his thoughts on a level of imagination and what he observed to be true about the nature and behaviour of his thoughts on a level of reality.
The cat is evidently out of the box.