Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peculiar Compulsions

(a story inspired by today's Meme Express).

Peering over to top of my algebra text, I covertly observed her movements. It was study hour in the middle school library, and I studied her every move. Holding the newest tome of the Sweet Teen romance series in her left hand, her right was busy as usual. Thumb and forefinger would lightly rub the top of her forehead until they found purchase. Delicately, they would pinch a single strand of hair, and slide from the root towards the tip. Once, twice – not ever three times, the hair would be wound around the index finger. Wait for it – relax, yank! Without so much as a cringe, the hair was liberated. Freed from the scalp, the base was carefully examined, checking for the satisfaction of the white follicle, without ever turning her face from her novel. Moments later, the lonely tress would be discarded unceremoniously to the floor, floating to its new home among the carpet fibers. Soon, the right hand would return to what lingered of the thin, wiry mane and the ritual would begin anew, as if of its own will.

Filled with shame, I attempted to redirect my attention to memorizing the binomial concepts in front of me. Focus, I told myself. Still, I felt the heat of my face and knew instantly that it must be displaying a glowing crimson performance for everyone to see. Why should I be the only one watching others to witness what secret horrors they commit in the school library when everyone should have their nose in a book. I knew that the only relief I could expect was later that day, on the bus ride home, when I could press my hot, shamed cheek against the smooth, cool window of the bus. The desk, a mirror, or the back of the bathroom stall door was no match for the relief offered by that cold, clear window. Who would be watching me when I sought my own peculiar satisfaction? To what compulsion would they be driven after witnessing my odd behavior? I couldn’t think of that now. Maybe today I would resist. Or perhaps . . . I would be trying to get a better look at a somewhat familiar dog, or had I already used that one?

Later that day, the bus pulled up to our stop, and I rushed ahead. My long strides could carry me quickly to the door before she caught up with me. I suspected that she was aware of my daily clandestine inspection of her library routine and I was in no hurry to be confronted with that eventuality. How sick could she be, was she putting on a show for me, to ensure that I would feel uncomfortable in my new school? Was this just another of her ways to control me and my thoughts? It would be creepy, but not impossible. Mostly, though, I was in a hurry so that our fellow commuters might not realize my deepest secret: she is my sister.

(I feel I could build on this . . .but to what end?) Putting myself in that other mind has all but exhausted me for now).

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