From my position in the doorway, I could clearly see her, as she made her way through the shop. Her long blonde, almost white hair was easy to pick out in the small crowd of shoppers. Picking up, what seemed, random items, holding them against herself and deciding against the idea. I knew what she was thinking. That they didn’t look good on her, or that maybe she was a few pounds over weight. All of that was bullshit. She looked amazing in anything and everything; she just needed to hear someone say it. Today she wore the skinny black Levi Jeans, which she bought two Fridays ago. I didn’t recognise the t shirt, so it must have been an older one. The waist high black leather jacket, her mother purchased for her birthday last month, completed the biker chic look. It had been a trek trying to find that jacket, I should know. Her mother was exhausted after being dragged all over town looking and my batteries were certainly flat in the end. But it was worth it to see her smile with excitement, when ‘the one’ found its way on. Flat shoes, always flat, her slender five foot eight frame needed no extra height from shoes, although I could not make out where they were from. A bright red patent handbag, completed today’s outfit.
After two months of my active participation in her life, I knew where she would be headed next. This was a new lease of life for me; I had a reason to get out of the house. I knew that she felt the same way as me, I just needed to show her how much I cared for her, I knew she would be impressed by all the things I had been doing recently.
It was Friday morning, which meant clothes shopping/looking and then the health food shop for her groceries. Pushing back slightly, I was almost out of plain view, as she left the shop in the middle of Kings Walk. It always proved difficult, trying to watch her on this narrow, Edwardian cobbled street. From top to bottom there were only ten shops on each side and only two that she looked in. Long Tall Sally for clothes and Hamblens for sparkly bits, rings and the like. When I first started this relationship with her, I used to go up and down the street, sneaking looks at her. Realising that I would soon be noticed, I watched the street on the days she was working. I even caught myself reflecting in the shop window and paused, before moving on.
There was a double opening to the barbers at the top of the street, one of which was only used by staff at 8am on their way in and then 2pm and 4pm to take out the rubbish. There must have been an older entrance to apartments above, which was now sealed up, but it left behind a larger than normal lobby. I knew I was safe here and that with the size of the doorway, I could secure my position, without anyone knowing. Not that anyone noticed me, not now, not ever.
I didn’t have to follow straight away; I knew the direction she would travel. Piecing together her life had taken time and planning, since I first saw her and saw something in her. Opening the newsagents door for me, she laughed loudly into her mobile phone, which was planted to her ear. Her eyes almost met mine, but she was in a rush, my time would come. Her kindness at opening the door for me, I knew then, I just knew she was for me. The newsagent had her items waiting, milk and sugar, it looked like a usual order and no money was passed, so I presumed it must have been on account. From then on I knew I could find out more by hanging out here and seeing where she went.
Before long I knew that she worked at a small solicitors firm, part time, just Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, not far from where she started her shopping on a Friday. I often thought about phoning to try and hear her voice, but I couldn’t pick up the phone. Thursday nights was always a few wines with the other ladies from the office and her housemate, none of then captivated me in the same way though. I knew she was the one. She held my attention, forced me to stare and opened my mind to possibilities. They shared a second floor apartment not too far from the bars where they all drank on a Thursday. I usually watched from the doorway of a chip shop, across from the bars. Nine in the evening was a good time for them to stop, her doorway only being three doors down from the chippy, I wondered if with a pair of binoculars, I could see which flat she pressed on the buzzer. Maybe one day I could surprise her? I wonder if they have a lift in the building? I wonder if she would like red or white roses?
At the bottom of Kings Walk, a pedestrian crossing took you over Parliament Street and down Kings Street straight ahead of you. On the right hand side as you walk down is the most beautiful building in Nottingham, its looks on a par with her. With delicate red bricks, intricate towers and seedy faced goblins watching you not matter where you view from. The six floors rise from the ground and lean backwards up the slope of Kings Street, the front façade is a U shape, with the left hand side going up Queen Street. Right in front is the statue of Brian Clough (something to do with football?).
I have many places to watch from around the statue, as everyone, as usual, is in too much of a rush to notice someone like me. There is a lingerie shop she likes to visit. Sometimes, with forward planning and patience, I can manoeuvre myself into such a position that I can see through the front window and into the changing rooms, if she takes up booth number 1. My mind almost stops on these few and far between occasions. I have to remind myself to breathe, so I don’t pass out. My tummy swirls and internally I feel the whooshing of blood and excitement growing. I wonder if I would ever have the balls, laugh out loud, to get a closer look, to stop in front of the shop whilst she is changing and watch her. To see how my body reacts.
Thinking for too long, I realise that I have not moved from the doorway and she is now out of view. I slowly creep out, careful that no one is watching me, not that they would. The cobbles of the street are an annoyance, but I can pick my way through them now with minimal fuss. Sometimes there are bundles of teenagers making their way up Kings Walk, as I make my way down, to the bus terminus at Trinity Square. Sometimes they notice me, sometimes they say things but the noise from the cobbles hides the words from my ears. Not too far now and no kids on the way down today.
People are running and I think I can hear shouting, but again the cobbles do not allow me to make that call. People are stopped around me now, looking down at the crossing. I have to find a space, where I can see what’s going on. Which shop will she be visiting next? Fired Earth? Book Space? I hope it’s the lingerie shop, but with all these people about, I doubt I would be able to make it down there in time to see her. What if she managed to get into booth number 1 today and I missed it because of foot traffic?!?
If panic could strike my face, it would be now. My eyes flew past people and there was someone on the floor at the crossing, a car had not bothered to stop. From my vantage point, I squint my eyes together and try and make sense of it all. I see the red handbag.
Banging into people I clutter down the road, abuse is thrown my way, but it bounces off me as usual, my frame taking the brunt, now rubberised. People can hear me coming and they make way for me to reach my target, my love. I stop within fifteen feet of her lifeless body on the floor, her small frame only takes up one white and one black bar on the zebra crossing, her head is pointed down Kings Street and her feet the opposite direction, towards my starting point of Kings Walk. Blood which matches her handbag in colour, forces her hair into a matted mess. I want to kneel beside her and push it from her face, to open her beauty to the world. I want to tell her it will be ok, to pick her up and carry her to a waiting ambulance and explain to everyone that I will be there for her, will travel with her and will make sure she is ok.
Im not sure if tears are running down my face, as I have no feelings at all, once again my body lets me down. Inside I can remember the emotion of crying and how it makes you feel. Those feelings lead to tears, so I wonder if I am crying. I take my mouth of the joystick of my wheel chair and cast my eyes over my legs. Stuck and pinned inside, each hand thrust between its useless leg and the side of my chair, my prison, my torture, my nemesis. Words have not formed in many years, but I scream in my head, to the outside world this is nothing but dribble, spittle and gargling, but no one notices. I want people to notice me for once, I want people to know how much pain I am in, for once its me looking down at someone else, but this someone is the one I love.
I am not frozen to the spot, I literally can not move if I take my mouth off the joystick. Time slows down as I watch the ambulance turn up and the paramedics asks “does anyone know the lady?”. The pain of not being able to answer, strikes like the car that hit me. The irony that my life was taken away by a car and the first person to acknowledge me since, the one I fell for, falls by the same fate, is too much too bear. I wont even be able to tell my carers what happened today, much in the same way I cant tell the paramedic who she is, where she lives or where she works. I will be forced to venture home, to moan and shake at them, their reaction the same as a new parent when their baby shits for the first time. My body id strapped so tightly that I am barely moving, even though all my energy is being used to rock and draw attention.
An orange brace is affixed to the side of her head, as the push the sides of her jacket away from her chest and go to work on the heart massage. I still have vague memories of lying on the floor as the same thing happened to me, the same kind of people tried to extend my life. I realise that I am rocking my head from side to side, back and forth, foaming at the mouth, in a desperate attempt to get someone to notice me, so I can tell them about her. I probably just look like a nutter, in my chair foaming and moaning, whilst inside im dying for the second time in my life, screaming to those around me, arms aloft, waving at them to notice me. Nothing. The stretcher is pulled apart and slid underneath her, heart massage continues, but I see a shake of the head from one paramedic to another, a downturned smile and a bleak look on their faces.
Nothing more from her, nothing more for me. I am alone in my chair, no one can help me. She is alone in the ambulance, no one can help her. Inside I break again, my world collides with darkness as I realise that I may never get the chance to look at her again.