Forgive the American turn of phrase but I feel it best explains what I am. Frightened of my own fucking shadow.I don’t blame you if you put this down right now, just stop reading out of lack of interest. Christ, I would. Who wants to read about a woman with no life. A woman who has done nothing. Who has no coherent line of narrative whatsoever.
I almost wish I was Bridget Jones, a whimsical mess she may be but at least she put herself out there, and she got a nice flat in London, her very own Mr Darcy and some top notch media job even though she seems to possess only a mediocre talent for the trade.
I’m a librarian. A 35-year-old single and quite simply bored-out-of-her-brain librarian. There are no kids. There isn’t even any romantic baggage to speak of.
When I was a teenager I had fantasisies of being some dominatrix French secretary style librarian. Prowling the book halls in spiky court shoes, a tight shift dress and leather whips aplenty. I certainly did that a lot in my twenties (minus the whip, well most of the time) and it certainly scared the crap out of Ms ‘High Priestess chartered librarian in charge’ Jones.
So I drabbed down. To be honest the fight went out of me, shift dresses don’t look so pleasant after a bacon and chicken marks & sparks sarnie and you have a bit of a bloat on. And the effect of those heels? My crusted, scarred feet still have yet to recover.
So out came the old woollies, the slippers, the yellow stained blouses, I even got myself a bike to ride to and from the library in. It has a sweet little bell and a basket, all very rustic and could be tres chic… if I lived in a cute country house next to the coast and not in the middle of a busy traffic infested city.
In my drab attire I was much safer, a much more trustworthy and viable option for a promotion which never happened. They thought I would rot happily away with the musty yellowed family sagas.
Which I, of course, am doing. Thirteen years has melted away. Thirteen long years where I have lived vicariously through my beloved books, Where I get lost in the pages, the stories, I became the princess heroine, the femme fatale, the hot shot city lawyer with a penchant for Christian Laboutins.
All the time this voice inside my head screaming the same thing over and over and over. I need to get out of here. I need to get out of here. Do something different, something, something frightening.
My flat echoes all previous descriptions of myself. It’s small, it’s clean, it’s mostly white and it’s full of books.
I often sit at my bed and I wonder, what it would be like to take to the high seas, to feel the wind in my hair, the nausea in my stomach. What would it be like to walk into Prada and buy everything on credit, not a worry in the world about the bill. What would it be like to eat blowfish by the forkful, not caring if you survived or if it finished you off.
I always wonder in threes. Three scenarios, three daydreams. Everything happens in threes. I read in Aspects of Interior design that three is the magic number. All decorative ornaments, be they vases or candles, should be placed in threes. It is the number of beauty, of good taste. Then there is the triangle of the lord - the father, the son and the holy spirit or the three sixes stamped on little Damien’s head. The superego, the id, the ego. Even Freud thought in threes. That comforts me on some level. Are you finding me creepy yet? I find me creepy on occasion. It’s the ultimate horror movie jibe, the woman scorned, the woman ignored, she seems so meek, so mild yet here she is going on the rampage with her menstrual blood. I assure you I am not creepy. That if you journeyed into the inner recesses of anybodies mind your findings would not be altogether sane or comfortable. Especially the mind of a woman who hasn’t had any form of sexual contact in three years. That kind of frustration is enough to send anyone a little off kilter. The last man was a blind date who forcefully shoved his hand up my skirt. In my shock I said nothing until he muttered something about the quiet ones being the wettest. I came to my senses then and legged it, sobbing all the way to my front door. How humiliating, 32 and being treated like a teenager by some pervert with his hand in my pants. Men are not pleasant creatures.
And so I am a near on recluse. No dates, a very small amount of friends, no family to speak of since my mother died last year. I am alone. In my flat, with no money and no reason to go on. Do I have choices? Could I just quit, just leave and spend my days roaming the red light district in Amsterdam. Should I run to New York and sing like Sting. Should I apply for a makeover show and watch my confidence blossom as pushy presenters shove me into wrap dresses. No, I know what I will do, I will hide in books and watch as life slowly filters by.
My shoe has a hole in it. I was standing behind the counter, smiling inanely at a customer when I felt it. The edge of my little toe was creeping for freedom, escaping from the leather insoles. I can’t afford new shoes. Flustered I pull out some superglue, whisps of fuzzy brown hair drop into my face. Is it the light or are they streaked with grey? Pulling off my shoes I dap the glue at the split sole, praying again this will work. Then he appears… he is all radiance and smiles with his perfect lock of dark hair dropping on his forehead. He cocks his head to the side when he sees me, like he’s a bird, like I’m his prey. He’s sizing me up and is deciding when is best to strike, when to go for the gullet.
“What are you doing Kate?” he drawls, loudly, so every customer in the library spins round. It’s Kathy, but I don’t bother correcting him.
“Hole in my shoe.” I mutter, desperately looking for a file to bury my head in.
“Buy some new ones for god sake woman.” He tuts, before focusing his broad grin at a quibbling teenage girl who looks like she might orgasm at the very sight of my beautiful but very bossy superior. It makes me sick that at just 26 he is already a chartered librarian. One more step and he’ll run the whole library. It makes me dread the day Ms Jones leaves.
“Kathy! I need you to recatalog the entire Mills & Boon section. That old lady Janice Dickenson has run amok with them again.” Comes her booming voice, she strides past me, hair in a tight severe bun, lips pursed. Who knew such a short skinny woman would inspire such distaste in me.
“Peter, darling” she coos, clasping his muscular and veiny hand as he leans against the counter. I should have known they would be in it together.
I nod and run to the Mills & Boons, aghast at the mess. Mrs Dickenson has started ripping the raunchy sections out for her own personal collection. I know I should charge her, but since her husband Fred died I can see how lonely she is.
“I just want to remember what it feels like to be touched” she whimpers at me every time.
You and me both sister.
Later, Peter announces loudly that he has a date. He smirks at me. No idea why he feels the need to do this. It’s quite obvious for anyone who happens to look upon us that he, as some Adonis of the librarian world would have a date with some elegant blonde, whereas I, the greying spinster in the long brown cardigan would not. Why he feels the need to show off and rub it in is truly beyond me. Self-esteem is a funny thing. I trundle off home on my bike. The wind is cold against my face and I wish I had worn gloves. I start to think about death. It comes as if from nowhere and gives me a bizarre sense of pleasure. Wouldn’t it be so dramatic if I lay on my red carpet and slit my throat. If the blood intermingled with the carpet and by the time anybody found me they wouldn’t be able to see any blood at all. They would think I was merely sleeping. That would certainly get some attention. The thought consumes me so much I almost don’t see the cab coming toward me. I almost don’t see it as it crashes into my bike, crunching the front wheel. But as I come flying over the handle bars I see the big black cab then. I see the headlights, I hear the screech of the tires. I feel the smooth hard cold bonnet as my body crashes against it. I hear the crack in my neck. Slowly I roll off the car and crash onto the pavement. Real blood rising into my mouth. And I think, this is it. This is the change, the something different I had been waiting for. My heart slows. All goes black around me and I wish to god I had stuck with my spiky court heels. Who rides a bike in spiky heels.