spins on the quad
in circles, a pair of epicycle
s, round her own axis and another that only she can see, kicking up peat
. Nobody else watches; my classmates have not yet woken, or haven't slept yet, studying Beckett
. Four AM. An hour ago I heard the click of her door, the E-sharp of the hinge, (one, two, ... eight), the muffled metallic thump of the fire doors. There's a space on the sill I can sit, legs compressed by the rough plywood
of the cheap dorm bureau
, and shade my eyes from the sodium vapor lamp
adjacent to the window.
Her glasses fly off and she stops to retrieve them, falling to her knees and padding forward on her hands on the tangent she thinks they described. Going the opposite way. She stops, looks at the sky, a gray predawn blur to her; she crawls in expanding spirals, hands fanning out over the grass.
I've never watched her alone; she is far more graceful in her awkwardness when she thinks herself unobserved. Her cotton nightgown sticks to her legs; her hair consists of two dozen paintbrushes. My camera has no film.
It begins to rain warm, heavy North Carolinan puddles as she finally finds her errant glasses. She stays for a while, her tongue flicking out lazily to drink, then stands, stretches, hands far over her head. She reaches out as if to pull something in - her unseen displaced center? and walks back towards the dorm.
I realize it's locked about when she does. I must let her in, without revealing that I've seen. Quantum; if she knows she was observed, her wave will collapse - backwards, even - and my memory will vanish. I leap to my closet, pulling on a poncho, running down the stairs (sharp foot-echos in the stairwell).
"Oh!" I'm surprised, of course, to see her waiting at the door. "I was just going out. Walk in the rain. It's raining. But you know that. You're wet. Um." I stand aside and let her in. She is blinking rapidly; whole-eye squeezes of surprise, head pushed forward on long neck, looking up at me.
"Rain. Yes." She scampers up the stairs two at a time. I realize now that I'm committed to a walk in the rain; can't blow my cover. Step outside, head for the library, where all-night tea awaits.
This writeup is about Emily Elizabeth Jacobs.