Today’s prompt by Heidi Durrow is passions and obsessions. I decided to write a story about being the object of such feelings. Content warning: stalking.
“CAN I GET YOU A BEER?” The pictures on the walls pulsed to the beat. He looked automatically to his hands and then back at her. Bright eyes, kind smile, full lips. Something in him stirred. No, shifted. No, lurched. This girl was hot.
“SURE! THEN MAYBE YOU CAN GET ME A DATE?” He winked at her. She laughed and turned to get the beer out of the fridge. As she cracked it one handed in his direction, he slid his fingers around her wrist and leaned into her ear. “I’m not kidding. Wanna go out sometime?”
“Oh, honey. You are not my type, and anyway, I never commit to dates when I’m drunk. Hell, I never commit to anything when I’m drunk. I want good times with the fewest regrets possible.” She winked at him.
“OKAY.” He leaned back and let go of her wrist. “HOW ABOUT A DANCE THEN?”
“THAT I CAN DO. BOTTOMS UP!” She cracked her beer and started chugging, eyebrowing him to join. He raced the best he could, but she was done like there was nothing between the lip of the beer and her stomach. He watched her lick her lips, and they were off to the living room as some pop punk 90s song faded in.
The caffeine headache was just now subsiding, two strong cups of coffee in. She really needed to work on moderating this addiction. Her index finger pushed her glasses back to the bridge of her nose. This paper was taking way longer than she anticipated.
“What are you working on?” Someone slid into the seat next hers.
She jumped. “Oh my god.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you; I just, you know, saw you here and wanted to say hi.”
“Sorry, who are you?”
“Dan. We met at the party last week? You gave me a beer and a dance, but no date.”
“Oh. Right. You come here?”
“Um. Yeah. Sometimes.”
“Right. I come here when I need to do work, because no one from campus comes here ever. Well, I guess not ever.” She turned back to her computer.
“Can I buy you lunch?” She stared at him. “It’s almost noon.”
“No, actually I’m fine. I just need to finish this.” As an afterthought, “Thank you though.”
He didn’t move. She typed out a painful paragraph.
“I’m sorry to be a bitch, but you need to sit somewhere else. I have to work now.”
“Oh yeah, sure. What are you writing on? Maybe I can help you? We-”
“Just let me work, please. You’re a nice guy and all, but I have to be alone to do work.”
“Yeah, okay” He got up and internally kicked himself for missing a class for this.
The two women sat down with their martinis, celebrating the end of midterms. They caught up on stresses and dates and plans and all those little things the friends had missed for the past two weeks.
“Angie is going out of town the weekend of April 15th. Wanna come over and have a good ole fashioned slumber party? I’ll provide the cookie dough and liquor. You bring the crappy movies and down pillows.”
“The 15th?” Her friend unlocked her phone and checked her calendar. “Ugh. I’m going to have to be a maybe. I’ll have a draft of my final paper due the week after, so if I’m good and get it done ahead of time, like I always plan, I’m there. Refill?” She pointed to her empty glass.
“Definitely. Tell ’em to make it filthy.”
The women just finished checking their phones when the drinks arrived and were met with approval.
“Do you know that guy, Dan?”
“Yeah, he was in freshman lit with me, I think. Seems sweet, but not your cup of tea, I’d imagine.”
“Yeah, not exactly. I met him at that Pike party at the start of the semester, and now he’s like everywhere. It’s weird.”
“You know how it is. You never notice someone until you meet them, and then suddenly you notice them and it seems like they are everywhere.”
“Yeah, I guess. He just creeps me out. Like sits next to me rather than across from me when he sees me. And he’s always asking me out. I don’t even know how many times I’ve said no. He like brought me flowers before my last midterm. I don’t know. It’s just … it’s weird.”
“He’s harmless. I’m sure he’ll get the picture soon.”
“I know. I just wish it would be now. Anyway.”
They sipped at their drinks.
Her first thought when the phone went off was “who the fuck took that off vibrate?” She groaned, rolled over in the bed, and put her pillow over head. She was being very Hollywood right now. The ringing stopped. And almost immediately started again.
Angie banged on the wall. The clock, after she found her glasses and was able to focus on it, said 2:43 AM. The ringing stopped. And started again. Angie banged again. “Answer the phone or throw it in the toilet! I have class in 5 hours!”
Caller ID said “Unknown.” Now she was pissed. “YOU HAVE THE WRONG NUMBER, ASSHOLE!”
“Wow. Way to talk to a friend. Even better that my grandma died today.”
She inhaled sharply. Her grandmother died last semester; tears threatened at the corner of her eyes.
“Dan. It is 2:40 in the morning.” She hissed through gritted teeth.
“I just need someone to talk to.”
“How did you get my number?”
“You gave it to me.”
“No. I didn’t. Dan. I am really sorry about your grandma, but I’m not that friend. You should call someone else.”
“I just need someone to talk to. Please! My grandma just died! There is no one else I want to talk to but you.”
“Dan, you have to call someone else. We are not really friends, and I can’t do this right now.”
“Why are you being such a bitch? I just want to talk to you” She bristled at the word.
“Calling me a bitch is the exact opposite way to get what you want. Call. Someone. Else. And delete my number. You can have it back when you learn to treat me with respect.”
She hung up the phone, saved the number to “Do Not Answer” and put a to-do to block it in her app. It started to ring again, flashing the new name. She denied the call and set it on silent.
She got to sleep again after an hour or so after she finally convinced herself to stop being angry and upset. When she woke up there were 27 missed calls, as many voice messages, and 15 text messages. Every single one from “Do Not Answer.”
The public safety office was not the most welcoming place. The woman at the desk looked up from her book and slowly shut the hardback.
“Can I help you?”
“Yeah. I am not sure what … I think some guy is stalking me.”
“Has he threatened you?”
“No. No no. Um, he just shows up wherever I am and then last night he called and texted me from around 2:40 until about 5:00 AM. I just … I’ve asked him to stop, and he won’t, so I need you to do something.”
The officer shifted in her seat and pulled up something on the computer. “Is he a student?”
“And you are too?”
“The best I can do is make a report. Nothing he’s doing is really … Look, it’s annoying and he’s an asshole, but I mean, honey, when you look like you do, you’re going to attract some assholes.” Her jaw clenched; she was sick of people saying that. The woman took the details of what had been going on, henpecking them into the computer. Now she was too late to get to class.
“If he does anything new, let us know. Here is my card. Are you on campus?”
“Okay. Well, if you have a door person…”
“That’s my number on the card. If I am not at the desk, it will ring someone else. But off campus, just call the police first. He’s probably harmless. These boys don’t know how to deal with their feelings and with women that tell them no. He’ll be an asshole for a week or so more, it’ll suck for you, but it’ll go away, honey.”
“Just call us if anything changes.”
She slammed the door behind her and ripped up the card. This was total bullshit.
The nightmare grew foggy as she pulled awake. She blinked and breathed and told herself to relax. Listening, it was just the same noises as usual: crickets and the sobbing drunk four doors down. No late night phones calls for the last two weeks.
The room was cooler than when she went to bed, and she pulled her comforter up and tucked it around her neck. She still wasn’t relaxed. Her eyes were adjusting to the street light filtering through her window.
She rolled on her back, wishing she could tap Angie awake, even though she would be so pissed. She reached for her cat, but she was not on the pillow next to her or at her feet. She started to sit up to see if she was in the room.
“Hello, Jenny. Now you have to talk to me.”