It started quietly. I would listen carefully to him in class – he is my professor. He would go everywhere with his ideas – change my mind and extend my thoughts to new places. All without the aid of music, alcohol or those little white pills. Just watching him talk, for hours and hours was enough.

I sat at my desk as I watched him but gave no voice to my wish – “look at me”. I kept putting myself in sexy positions to distract him from his lecture. Later, when we were talking about this in bed, he said he didn’t notice – not at all – but wished he did. He only paid attention when I contributed to the discussion. “Indestructible makes a good point,” he would announce to the rest of the class. Yes! I went back to my room and pushed myself to orgasm with him on my mind.

Weeks later, while reading the paper alone at a coffee shop, I found an article I wanted to hear his take on. I sent it to him – and he soon responded thoughtfully. We started e-mailing openly. I could tell him anything – even half-thoughts he would help me work through: my ideas for the future, my desire to be Victorian, my loneliness and emptiness that I just couldn’t escape – even after years of failed attempts. He didn’t worry but made some suggestions and forwarded some articles. He called me a catalyst and told me all about him: his secret next steps in life, his love of technology, his comfortable but somehow unsatisfying marriage… his marriage… his marriage… oh no.

So, by meeting me at midnight one Friday night he was risking everything – his job, since I am his student, and his marriage. But, he said that those things did not make him strive. We kissed in front of strangers – risky but not. He told me I was beautiful and that I was like a jewel. He looked at me with eyes on fire. I loved it and I hated it.

Soon, we were talking and writing so many times a day that it seriously interfered with projects I was managing at work. The regular things didn’t matter as much – life seemed inspired. I had become too plain lately anyway – thinking too much about how my hair looked, how I was standing, how much I had in my wallet. He brought back something in me that was hiding and coaxed it out carefully. I felt like myself again. On his side - he said that I made him feel optimistic. I was glad to make him happy.

We had two nights together. I felt so close to him. “Don’t fall in love with me,” he warned on the first night after I had fallen asleep on his chest. We made love on the eve of my 29th birthday – and early the next morning. It felt good. I had been celibate for over two years.

Then I woke up – I really woke up. After I got to work that morning, I sent him a note asking him to leave me alone and listed the consequences if he tried to reach me. I never meant to be with a married man. It was wrong. I didn’t want to be a mistress. I didn’t want to be on the outskirts of society. I didn’t want to force my philosophies on anyone. I realized that it would only make me more lonely, in time.

Today, I am back in my plain life. It is friendly but shallow and tired. I get in my car and slowly drive to work – like everyone else. I sit at my desk. I stand at my window and look at the highway on the right and lake on the left while talking on the phone to distant places. I kid around with the girls. I meet with the IT guy. I impress my boss. I add the professor to one of my many escape fantasies to help me get through the day. Other than that, my hair is a little messy, but fine, I am standing straight, and I have a twenty, a ten and a five in my wallet. Oh well.

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Geno's Cafe
304 Union Street
Torquay
UK
TQ2 5QZ

The Beatles - Hello Goodbye

I used to spend half an hour of most days in here. To fill the gap between returning from University and picking my wife up from work, I'd come in, drink coffee, smoke a couple of hand-rolled cigarettes, read a newspaper and scribble stuff into my notebook; some of that stuff would get turned into nodes, some into daylogs, some would sticks in my head and come out somewhere else. Most of it, ended up in the bin.

The Doors - Light My Fire

In the far left corner of the cafe sit a couple in their late twenties, either side of a table against the wall. He's chain-smoking Benson & Hedges whilst she's shovelling a fry-up down her face. Their kid sits on a pushchair to the side. He's taking the tomato sauce off the table and throwing it to the ground. She picks it up and replaces it, but always within the kid's reach. By the window on the right hand side of me sit two girls -- about twenty at a guess. They're drinking milkshakes; one chocolate and one strawberry. They're talking about money -- or the lack of it -- and deciding what club they're going to go to for Jenny's birthday. Jenny, it turns out, is chocolate milkshake girl's little sister.

John Lennon - Mother

Then, about six months ago, they opened a new coffee shop further down town. It lured me. The new shop had good coffee; Geno's has filter stuff that's been sitting in the pot for too long. The new shop had sofas; Geno's had unconfortable chairs that are attached to the tables. The new shop had a loyalty card that gave you your tenth coffee free. The new coffee shop was posh -- it had italian music drifting through the air...

Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water

The girl with the fry-up smiles as Art Garfunkel sings out the first chorus and informs her partner that this is one of her favorite songs. "Yeah. One of Elvis' best," he replies -- loud enough to inform the whole cafe of his level of knowledge1. She doesn't say anything. But she smiles again; the sort of smile that suggests that she knows he's wrong but he says that sort of thing out-loud in public all the time and it's not worth contradicting him. And she's right. What would be the point? I still wouldn't have been able to let it go myself, though. Another couple come in. They order food and sit on the table to the right of me. He's big. He has muscles and a skinhead. He actually has a tattoo of an anchor on his arm. She's trying to look posh but isn't. She's immaculately dressed in cheap clothes, and she has painstakingly applied perfect makeup on a well work-worn face. She trys to talk in a well-pronounced voice, but fails to cover up the underlying Devonshire accent.

The Beta Band - Dry the Rain

...but Geno's has a stack of CDs somewhere, from which music is being played at random. Not only that, but it's generally good music; not some undefined pointless fake italian-style muzak. It has people, and they do odd things. In the posh coffee shop, smoking is restricted to three tables at the back. They always packed and you have to share a table. That's alright for a quick cup of coffee and a fag, but you can't spread out a broadsheet and -- more importantly -- you can't sit there scribbling stuff in a notebook.

The Beatles - Get Back

A plastic tomato sauce bottle skids across the floor, and comes to rest under my table. Across comes the girl from the corner to retrieve it. I bend down to pick it up for her and, as I come back up, she quickly glances away from my notebook. I hope she didn't manage to read anything. She thanks me and returns to her table where her partner is already getting up, and they leave. One of the staff comes out and sits on the table nearest to the counter and takes a pre-rolled cigarette out of a Golden Virginia tin. The other one delivers the second couple's food. He has fish and chips, she has -- what looks like, from here -- lasagne and chips. She destroys the reminants of her pretensions by drowning it all in an inch-thick layer of tomato sauce.

R.E.M - Everybody Hurts

So I'd been persuaded that I liked good coffee. I was a coffee connoisseur. None of your Necafe for me, thanks, I want only the proper stuff. Well, bollocks. I couldn't give a shit about the coffee. I couldn't give a shit about the sofas, the loyalty card, the fashionable decor. I like to be able to get a table to myself, to be able to see the pre-rush hour traffic through the condensation-soaked windows, the people dashing in from the rain. I want to be left the fuck alone with my thoughts, my newspaper and my notebook.

Radiohead - Just

Tatto man and partner are discussing what DVD to get on the way home. She wants Wimbledon because her friend told her it was good. He wants I, Robot because "it's got that Will Smith in it." The girls have moved on to discussing strawberry milkshake's boyfriend's upcoming court appearance. The quiet is split by my mobile phone ringing. After a brief conversation, half-whispered, facing the wall, I get up, collect my tobacco, rizla and car keys.

Simon & Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa

I'm leaving now, but I'll be back. Tomorrow at about 4.30, I'll be here again. I'll sit at the same table, drink shit coffee and scribble more stuff in my notebook. I wonder if that bloke would think this is Elvis too?


Thanks to DejaMorgana who informed me that "Elvis does in fact sing a hell of a good version of Bridge Over Troubled Water." Bugger. Well, this was definately S&G so I'll stay smug(ish).

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