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June 6, 2013 / ldejong4

Distracted 1

(Part 1 of 2 – Set in contemporary Ireland)

He found himself in the college library that day with the same mental frustration he’d been feeling all week. He tried changing seats and even changing floors but it didn’t seem to ease his sense of self-denial. The essays were due at the end of the week so he hadn’t much time to finish reading all the course books and academic papers, make notes, write a first draft, edit, print, bind and submit. This was how it always went. He wanted to read everything and understand it all but at his own pace like steadily climbing a long and narrow spiral staircase. Low ambiguity tolerance was the official term apparently according to his father, but since becoming aware of it he struggled to accept it. It offended him and he battled it like trying to suppress some sort of unwanted emotion. But the hangovers just brought on other mood swings.

Scanning the rows of desks ahead of him, the seats were now filling up at 11am. Students confidently strolling in with heavy bags, some ambitiously sporting flip flops and sunglasses. He’d been there since 9am to make sure he got his seat. He stared down at his progress. Only one chapter read and highlighted. Risk Analysis. It felt like the bane of his degree in Finance – boring and incredibly difficult.

Finally lost in a wave of concentration, an adjacent movement caught his eye. Keeping his head down, he discretely glanced up through his eyebrows so as not to blatantly stare at the person squeezing between his desk and the chair in front of him. He noticed a pale hand leaning for support on the raised ledge at the edge of his desk. Chipped red varnish, clenching a box of Amber Leaf tobacco. His heart jumped for a split second as his eyes absorbed that familiar bright yellow colour. It threw him.

She used to smoke them he remembered. He recalled learning that it wasn’t a box of cigarettes but rather a toolkit to roll your own at a slightly cheaper cost. She would listen to him tell her about his day while she held the filter between her lips, rolling her cigarette to perfection and a subtle lick of her thumbs to seal it. A year later and she was still on his mind. A feeling of discomfort passed through his stomach leaving him vulnerable. Seeing her was really the last thing he needed this week.

Noticing the hand was on the ledge for longer than a passerby resting for support he looked up. It was Cara, one of her many best friends quietly trying to catch his attention.

“Hey John! How’s it goin?” She whispered grinning down at him.

“Oh…hey Cara… Yeah grand thanks. Just chippin away here at this essay, How bout you?” he responded trying to look cool and at ease.

“Just in from an exam there. Was grand. Next one on Friday. I’ll get back to it now. Haven’t seen ya in forever! Coffee later?”

“Sure yeah let me know.” he answered thinking she probably only made that friendly proposal to make the moment a bit less awkward.

He looked over to where she settled on the left a few rows ahead of him. Pulling her long wavy blonde hair back in a loose bun, she already seemed focused on her work. He started to wonder if she still lived with Erin. He knew Cara was back studying again but had no idea what Erin was up to these days. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know. Maybe she landed a project in an art studio somewhere or perhaps doing her own thing and selling her work to rich guys in the city. She always was very happy-go-lucky and laid back about work and other decisions in her life. “Live in the moment” she’d to say to him when he worried about things, like exams, or smoking weed for the first time, or when fooling around at midnight in the backseat of her car. It was her relaxed and fun personable nature that attracted him so much. He never really knew other girls like her. They just seemed uptight in comparison.

Caught in this trance, he realised it was the first time in a few weeks he’d thought about her like that. That thought alone gave him a sense of relief.

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2 Comments

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  1. Donal O'Conghaile / Jun 8 2013 11:25 am

    Brings back many college memories! Excited for Part 2!

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  1. Solace | Lisa de Jong

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