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This is a very nice piece you have put together. There are so many elements of today's chaotic and struggling world that it touches on - very much...This is a very nice piece you have put together. There are so many elements of today's chaotic and struggling world that it touches on - very much the pain that people carry around with them and we barely know it or are touched by it. You have developed some nice characters, dialog and context that allowed me to slide into the story and begin to see pictures of it all - a bit like a movie in my head. When that happens with me, then the writer has succeeded to draw me in, engage me and cause me to care about these characters, their thoughts, feelings, social negotiations, and actions. So all that to say - well done and I appreciate the time and effort that went in to writing this. John Show more
“I’m a really desperate man. Desperate with life”, he said as he sat on the bench next to Jenny on the bus stop. Jenny was listening to some music and enjoying the summer breeze. She could hear him loud and clear through her earphones. There was no one around and out of sympathy and humaneness she decided to listen to the old man. She elaborately stopped her music, as he dramatically repeated what he had just said, gesturing with his hands theatrically, looking for an appropriate reaction. From his rhetoric Jenny could tell he was a man of arts. He smelled of alcohol, probably beer, but he was not that drunk.
Sitting straight and using the same high tone the man has used she asked: “Why?”
Taken aback but glad that he attracted her interest he carried on dramatically:
“My wife has cheated on me. She... cheated on me with another man. She brought him home and said that she is leaving me for him.”
“How old are your parents, asked he.”
“My mum is 45 and my dad is 43, replied Jenny.”
“Well, they are the age of my children.”
This poor man awoke sympathy in her. Not sure how to get his mind off his troubles she started telling him about what she was going through.
“My uncle is a political prisoner in another country. My grandpa passed away really young.” For some reason she did not think about telling him how her other grandfather had cheated on her grandmother until he broke her heart and she passed away young. He then went away with his mistress to another country…
“Do you have a boyfriend?” the man asked gallantly.
Silence. He wanted to know more.
“He doesn’t live here. In fact he is not from here.”
“Couldn’t you find anyone appropriate here?”
“No. It is all about the treatment. Thinking that as a man you are something more than the woman beside you and even without saying it, it shows. That is what I dislike about men here and our patriarchal society.”
“Patriarchate… You know the movie “Patriarchate”. It followed the movie “Matriarchate”. “
He then engages in a short-talk about the movies, the actors and their importance.
“Can I kiss you?” asked the man insistently and turned his head slightly to the young girl.
Taken aback, Jenny froze. Pulling herself together and speaking with a diplomatic voice, she said: “I would rather you didn’t.”
“I need someone like you, someone gentle and lively and humoristic with whom to talk about poetry and arts and movies. I can tell you all about the great minds. I bet you don’t know about how […] was written, I bet you are not even familiar with…”
“This is my bus, but I think I am going to wait for the next one with you.”
But Jenny was not listening to him. As if he could feel that, he stopped and asked if he could kiss her hand. Shocked, she just stood there and wanted to talk her way of this, ride the tide and escape the tsunami. He took her hand and kissed it gently. Her stomach turned. Not knowing whether to be relieved that he didn’t approach to kiss her or to be repulsed by this brave invasion of her private space she stood there in shock.
Why did she stay there? Why didn’t she put up a defense?
He kissed her hand again. She felt repulsion with the strange man who just invaded her space insistently and with such a dramatic stride.
“What, do you feel better now?” she asked surprised with her own calmness. She knew he wouldn’t. She wanted to hear it from him.
“I cannot offer you this kind of consolation.”
At this point Jenny stood on her feet and said: “I am going to wait on foot, so that you are not tempted to get close. I will wait with you, since you missed your bus because of me.”
“I need someone like you in my life. Give me your phone so that we can meet tomorrow and talk about culture.”
At this point he pulled out his phone and urged: “What is it?”
Jenny could have played along and made up a phone number. But she didn’t. She thought that she could talk sense in this man. Deep down, she felt for him, for the pain he was going through. He was in a state and the alcohol just made his mind blurrier and more unclear. Seeing how pushy he got and how relentless he was to talk sensibly, she decided to leave the man on his own. After all, you could only do so much for someone.
Wanting to get out of the mess with finesse, she said: “I do not know why you had to spoil our otherwise nice encounter. We were just speaking about life and culture. Why did you act like that? I do not want to stay here anymore. I am leaving you here.”
He felt he had gone overboard and that there was no going back. Angry with himself and the world, he said: “Let’s just say goodbye diplomatically.”
She nodded. She looked him in the eye and said: “Take care and stay out of trouble.”
She then strode ten meters away from him just as the bus was approaching and set off, confused.