I was on Campus the other day. A rare event indeed. I was dressed unusually in skirt and blouse as I had recently returned from a Tattoo show where I was being exhibited. Me, put on a pedestal. Ooh ee. My newly inked back and arms were quite the attraction. I managed to annoy one of the judges Harry Knowles as it had been rumoured that I had thirty new designs. I apologised for any misinformation he might have heard. He accepted this and continued to admire the Polynesian, Japanese and Art Deco designs swirling through my skin.
Anyway, I was on Campus in the library trying to finish off an essay I had to hand in. The IT pit was fairly empty of people, the noise of typing and computer fans prevalent. Boys in hoodies played Bejewelled and IM’d. They leant on laser printers and scooped up sheaves of code, chains swishing against combats as they ambled back to their workstation. It was quite warm and the small breeze trickling from the air con vents above me was a welcome source of relief. I leant back in my chair, stretched out and slipped my shoes off, slumping down to take in the lazy scene before me. I rested for a while, daydreaming of meadows and skinny dipping in warm Texan rivers; absentmindedly pushing the mouse backwards and forwards trying to smooth out a patch of rough pixels on the desktop. I switched my gaze to the small girl wearing her backpack whilst sat at her machine, studying her long rough hair gently undulating in the air con. She was covertly sucking on a coke below the partition and obviously attempting to consume a pack of prawn cocktail Walkers in as quiet and efficient way as possible; cautiously removing single crisps and placing them deep within her mouth before beginning to suck them into silent oblivion.
I glanced back to my monitor and checked my email. No messages. As usual. The number of times you check your email is surely proportionally linked to the amount of correspondence that you actually receive. I scrolled up and down the page and signed out. I heard someone coming towards my area and turned my head as Owen swung into the chair next to me. Owen. Hmmm. I’d watched him from afar as they say, being the awkward girl in the group who was always on the periphery of whatever was going on. I’d blush when he’d bump into me during the crush at the bar, inwardly cringing at my behaviour whilst he fended off the apologies I offered. He’d offer to buy me a drink and I’d smile nervously and proffer a “Thanks, I’m okay at the moment” and watch him cart away a line of tequila shots back to his table. He was polite to me but we’d never talked about politics, sexy injuries or the best brand of lube on the market. So, what was he doing sitting next to me? He wore a pale blue shirt, (obligatory wife beater) green combats that looked like they’d see a bit too much washing machine action and scuffed and dirty Adidas shell toes. Nothing either original or flashy. He did look good though, eyes narrow in concentration as he stared at the sign in box, typed and absently pushed blonde tousled hair out of his eyes. Hmmm. I don’t usually go for blondes.
I squinted intently at my screen, pretending to find Yahoo UK & Ireland extremely interesting whilst at the same time sneaking the occasional look at Owen to my right. He twisted about on his chair as he waited to log on to the University network. I continued at my essay typing sentences that made no sense and having to spell check every fourth word or so. I had that tight, adrenaline-based feeling in my stomach as I typed. I tried to ignore my right hand man and in desperation I stumbled off towards the yellow printer, stuffed my card in and turned away so I could get some breathing space. Several “What a retard/juvenile/loser you are” type-thoughts fought for dominance in my mind. I think it was a draw. Or maybe a no contest. The print run finished and I collected up my sheets, took a few calming breaths and walked back to my machine. Owen was still there, concentration stamped across his features. I sat down, pulled my purple folder from my bag and slipped the sheets into the clear plastic pockets. I stole a sly glance as I bent under the desk to put the folder back and caught Owen’s baby blues flicking from me back to his screen. A wave of warm panic swept through me as I settled back into my chair. “Ignore. Ignore!” I urged myself as I checked my email account once again. Prickles ran up my back from the base of my spine to the red blush on my hot cheeks. “Fuck” I chided. Damn you biology. It was if I could feel his eyes on me. Yeah, it’s a terrible cliché but I am bad at self censorship. In my peripheral zone I could see Owen stop typing and stretch out in his chair. He raised his arms above his head and reached towards the air con, cracked his joints a little and then sank back into his seat. His long legs splayed out in front of him in that way males have of advertising their package. Which I hate. It’s always that bloke on the bus or train who takes up two seats with his crotch baring display, and always when I would appreciate parking myself there. Not in his crotch but the seat. Obviously.
Part two later.