This Wretched Heart

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Say My Name

‘Say my name and every color illuminates’

Spectrum by Florence and the Machine.

Sam

The first time he had seen her, her forehead had been scrunched as she looked at her blank PC screen. He couldn’t help but notice the way her copper hair caught the light and because she was wearing a headband it seem to fan out from her head almost like a halo. She had been frazzled and somewhat impatient on the phone at having been told to turn on and off her computer. However she beamed with gratitude when he arrived at her desk and stood up to let him sit down. She had shaken his hand and introduced herself, offering him a glass of water as she was on her way over to the water cooler to get one. He had liked the considerate way she had tried not to stand looking over his shoulder. Everyone thought they were an IT expert, especially the men who hated having to hand over anything technical to someone else.

He had tipped her hand as she handed him the chilled water which had made him turn red but she had seemed unfazed and more eager to have her computer fixed than to indulge in any further banter. Her phone had rung and as she reached over to pick it up, he had caught her scent, a mixture of spice and lemon which had made him go red again. He became only too aware as he maneuvered through her PC of the closeness of her hip to his head. He had the urge to turn his head and bury it in her crotch and breathe in deeply.She, of course, like most women, was completely unaware of his sordid mind as she giggled to some client about her lack of IT knowledge and explained that she would call him later when her PC was up and running. She winked as she said this and he felt as though his clothes had suddenly turned into armor and the chair on which he sat a white steed. He reluctantly left her but was glad that at least now he would have an ‘object desir’ to focus on as he whiled away the hours at his basement desk. He would be leaving in a few weeks so maybe he could ask her out. First though he would have to ascertain whether she was single as although she wasn’t wearing a wedding band she had the comfortable demeanor of someone who wasn’t intimidated by the opposite sex because they had nothing to lose or gain.

It was so typical that he had only met her now, just weeks before he left this hell-hole. He had landed a writing job of sorts with a local city magazine. Up to now he had eaten his lunch mostly at his desk or out in the park as he hated going to lunch with the IT guys who embodied the cliched nerd image. Jack even had wide rimmed spectacles and a runny nose and Dave snorted when he laughed. Although Sam was somewhat geeky himself he couldn’t honestly confess to enjoying conversations about the latest software mapping system especially not during the one hour of the day when he could shut his mind off. Instead he would grab his book a soup and sandwich and sit on the benches by the rose garden. If the weather was truly horrendous then surfing the net for flexible writing jobs was the alternative. The guys liked him but even they recognized that they had little in common with this part time IT guy.

Michael who sat next to Sam, although quite the hard-core IT dude had bonded somewhat with him over their mutual adoration of video games. They compared scores daily and played on’ X-Box Live’ in the evenings, which in gaming world was a way of meeting friends without ever leaving the comfort of your sitting room. However where Sam dabbled in the occasional evening of nonstop gaming Michael pretty much set up camp in the virtual realm. He had worked for the company for a couple of years so knew pretty much everyone from resetting their passwords to sending their hard drives to PC hospital as they referred to it. So when he casually asked about Lara – Michael winked and said

‘Ah so you’ve noticed her at last. She’s a fine one all right’ his sing song accent making him smile despite himself.

‘She’s well taken boy – practically hitched at this stage, Jaysus sure all her network passwords are her fella’s name or some version of it ’

‘Ha really? Like what?’ he was curious to get a peek at this ‘private’ side of her.

’Oh God let me think – oh yeah stuff like ‘sexy Pete’ ‘petiepie’ yeah I know it made me gag too!’

Although slightly disappointed Sam hadn’t thought anymore about it. He wasn’t the type to hanker after another man’s woman. He did alright without resorting to that level. He had wondered, more for daydreaming fodder than anything, would she turn up at his going away drinks night. He had imagined the different ways he could end the night with her but of course he wouldn’t and she of course didn’t come. Instead he had spent the night with a blonde bombshell who had left streaks of makeup on his T shirt and a phone number on his bed stand which he tossed into the bin. He wasn’t looking for anything serious and even if he was she was definitely not ‘girlfriend’ material. He had guffawed imagining his parents’ faces were he to introduce this somewhat Picasso like woman to them. Although they had always been very nice to anyone he had introduced them to which had not been many he still knew in advance if the polite smiles hid a cringe. His mum would scratch her neck when a girl didn’t meet her approval and his dad would wink at him a little too much as if to say:

‘Son she’s a looker but did you just hear what she just said about Osama Bin Laden being the new US President?’

This was the problem with practically living at home. ‘A granny flat’ his mum would laugh when she tried to justify why it was ok to have a twenty eight year old son still living with them. He realized it sounded a bit pathetic but Sam was reluctant to leave the comfort of his own family and live with people he didn’t know or worse with friends. Plus he was aware that his parents were getting on a bit and knew that although they never objected to him moving out were still more than a little happy to have their son so close by. Although they were very well off, they had always encouraged him to work and keep active. This was not for financial incentive but more because they insisted he keep himself interesting.

‘Women nowadays like their men to be up and doing’ His father would muse over dinner ′ Not like in my day when you could get away with being a lazy playboy’. His mother would roll her eyes as usual when he referred to his ‘heydays’.

Margaret and Denis Wright were an entire entity unto themselves. They were both retired but a day never went by where they weren’t attending some function or other or heading off to the mountains for a hike. He rarely found them sitting in front of the TV and by default he also found it hard to sit still and do nothing. They had given him a credit card which they paid off every month although to be fair he used it very rarely. The money he had been getting from his current IT job had kept him socially as he had no rent to cover. He contributed to food bills which mainly fed him as his parents spent most of their evenings in the nearby restaurant of an old stately home which had been converted into a hotel. They were on chatting terms with the owners a jolly couple of approximately the same age and often stayed well into the night drinking warm whiskeys and singing their old favorite tunes. Sam sniggered as he suspected his parents had slight crushes on the other couple. His mother would rave about George’s hosting skills and giggle like a teenager when he kissed her goodnight as Sam waited patiently in the car. His father would kiss Lily’s hand and smile a roguish grin and wink conspiratorially with George as if to say ‘well if you’re sick of her I’m game’. He admired his parents’ lack of jealousy in these matters as there was almost camaraderie in the way they both harbored infatuations over the course of their married lives together. It was more realistic than pretending the other half of the species stopped existing for you.

‘Who is this time?’ Denis would sigh with a glint in his eye as his mother recounted how very nice the local cheese monger had been that day and how he had given her an extra chunk of Camembert because she was such a great customer.His mother by the same token would whisper to Sam to observe her husband’s wandering eyes.

‘He used to look at my behind like that you know’ then more loudly ‘Until it became less interesting than that waitresses’. At which point his father would grab her hand and kiss it with a look that said ‘This waitress may have my wandering eye but you my love have everything else.’

Sometimes he caught them dancing in the kitchen and would watch them from the hallway quietly and happily. If he had any inclination towards a relationship he knew that one like his parents was something worth wishing for. For the moment however a relationship was the furthest thing from his mind. He wouldn’t feel like he had anything worth contributing until he had lived out his dreams, one of which was to become a published writer.

So it was that he hadn’t even thought about Lara again until he caught sight of a lone woman running in the dusk, the red strands of her hair floating in the dying light. He didn’t know what made him follow her then and why he had blurted out that they should be jogging partners. All he knew was that when he saw her, his legs had run faster to make sure he caught up. He could never have imagined how things would turn out. Although he had no problem being forward with other women he had cringed at this slightly unorthodox chat-up approach. He couldn’t believe it when she agreed and he had left her that evening feeling both elated and confused.

‘Don’t go there’ he had told himself over and over ′ Don’t even think about it’ he was sure she must still be with her fiancé but was curious to find out the next time they met.

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