You know how you suddenly become aware of someone staring at
When I looked up, she was not just staring. She was glaring.
She had beautiful eyes. It was a pity that she'd apparently decided to use them for nastiness instead of niceness.
I tried to go back to my work, but it was no good. I could feel those eyes boring into the top of my head.
Her hair was like magazine hair. It fell about her face in ringlets and golden waves.
"Can I help you?"
My voice sounded loud in the study nook. I hoped the librarian wouldn't come over and throw me out.
Throw us out.
She glanced over at the librarian, like she'd read my mind. When she glanced back and our eyes met, I couldn't help but smile.
She held my gaze with her eyes, and my smile faded. We just sat there, staring at each other.
She lifted her hands from her books and undid precisely two buttons of her blouse.
Precisely the right two buttons, mind you.
She pulled her blouse open for me to see.
Then she did her blouse up again.
She didn't stop staring at me the whole time.
Even when she stood up and picked up all her books and walked out, she didn't break eye contact. Not until it would have been physically impossible for her to continue staring at me.
I sat there in the quiet for a good two minutes. My erection was hot and insistent against my leg. What was I waiting for, it wanted to know.
I picked up my notebooks. I could borrow the tome I'd been taking notes from later, I figured.
I hoped my stiffy wasn't as obvious as it felt. I could sense the librarian looking at me. Looking at it.
When I got outside, she was sitting on the grass.
"What took you so long?"
"My mother always told me not to follow strangers who offered me candy."
She lifted her knee and her skirt went with it, conveniently letting me in on the secret about her not wearing any underpants.
"Uh-huh. So are you an only child then, or did mother loosen up after a while."
"Do I ... know you?"
She nodded. "Sure. Just not in this life."
I wanted to move, to sit down beside her, but that would have meant giving up my unobstructed view up her skirt.
Her hair in there matched the glorious locks she had on her head. Colourwise, anyway. She kept herself much trimmer down there than the tumble of silk that fell to her shoulders.
She patted the grass beside her, and i knew i had to make a decision.
"I generally don't bite."
She moved, her legs folded, criss-crossed. The show was over. Or the matinee at least.
I figured i might as well sit down.
"In which life, then?"
She smiled and fixed me with those staring eyes of hers again. "Oh, you'll see."
Her hand reached up and touched my cheek as i dropped to the grass beside her. I could smell the perfume of her skin. She smelt of sunshine. Of wheat.
You'll understand that i'm not used to this sort of attention. Girls usually don't notice me much. I wasn't sure quite what to do. What to say.
But i had to say something.
"That is the second biggest pencil case i've ever seen."
Probably not that, but it was too late.
She poked at it, shifting her gaze from me to it. It was corduroy, grey-brown, and looked pretty old. You could see the outlines of the pencils inside. It was fully stuffed with them, probably weighed a couple of kilos.
"You've seen bigger?"
Of course i hadn't. It was just an expression. So now i had to lie.
"Sure. This kid at school. He used to have this pencil case the size of a schoolbag, almost. Carried every pencil and pen he'd ever owned, i reckon. He was a total freak..."
"Every pencil he'd ever owned? Even ones from the future?"
I was pretty sure i'd gotten away with the freak slip.
"Well, maybe not ones from the future..."
She unzipped the pencil case. She did it slowly, almost teasingly. The pencils inside slid about and jostled for air as the teeth of the zipper released its corsetry.
I could barely imagine her unzipping her skirt with as much sexual tension.
"Have you ever looked at a pencil? I mean, really looked?"
She took two out. They were coloured leads, a maroonish red and a sort of yellow. The yellow one looked ancient.
"Look at the colours. Really look."
I really looked.
"This one? Madder Lake. Like the band. Originally the colour came from plants, the genus Madder. But then, first time ever, some clever scientist duplicated a natural colour in a lab."
OK. Cool story...
"This one: cadmium. Here. Hold it."
She handed me both pencils and reached behind her head to roll her hair into a bun.
"Nowadays they use chemicals to get the colour, but that one, that's got real cadmium in it. Toxic. Van Gogh tried to kill himself by eating yellow paint made with cadmium. Smell."
I sniffed the yellow one tentatively. It smelt of sunshine and wheat. In deference to its toxicity, i held it a little more gingerly.
She took the red one from my hand and inserted it into her bun. Then she leant her head right forward, offering me the nape of her neck. It was pink-white, i noticed. For a fleeting second i thought that i was going to kiss her on it.
"Pierce me, but don't stick the lead into me, or i'll die."
I carefully slid the pencil into her bun, point first. It didn't feel like it was going to stay there, but then it did.
It felt like such an intimate act that i glanced around to see if anyone was perving on us.
She tossed her head back, and the pencils in her hair somehow held. Her attention was on the gaping pencil case again.
"Look at this: standard Staedtler HB. How is it made?"
I wanted to say in a factory, but didn't. I shrugged.
"Look. Just look at the precision."
She held the pencil in my face, so close i thought it was going to go in my eye.
"Two halves glued around the graphite core. How accurately does the lead fit into the cradles?"
She shook her head and gazed at the pencil. "Amazing. An everyday miracle, really."
And at that miracle the conversation - such as it was - stopped again. Until she snapped out of her reverie and turned her eyes back to me.
"So. Are we going to do this Thing, or what?"
"You'll have to buy me a drink first. That's the rule."
She stood up, brushed grass from her skirt. I noticed the zipper.
She saw my hesitation, and smiled.
"See, i desperately need to fuck. Sorry, but that's how it is. I have a boy's libido in a girl's body, and there's just nothing i can do about it. Well, there's one thing: fuck. You look like you'd be interested in helping me out with that. Which pub do you want to go to?"
I mumbled the name of a pub and she took me by the arm, like we were an old courting couple. Or like she didn't want to lose me in the pedestrian traffic.
"OK, but that's a pretty daggy pub. We'll go to mine instead. Cooler. Plus, they have a really nice disabled toilet."
She cradled her pencil case in her other arm like a baby and set the pace.
I could feel her braless breast swinging against my arm as we walked - no, strode - towards the pub.
I just hoped i had enough money for a drink.
"Hey, Mazey! Usual?"
The barman had a tattoo on his face and satanic symbols inked onto his knuckles, but he smiled like a big kid when he saw the girl who was holding my arm swagger into the pub.
She just smiled and nodded and arranged herself on a stool, indicating that i should perch up on the one next to it.
"And for your gentleman friend?"
"Which beer, Pedro? We've got six on tap and about forty in the fridge."
"A bogan hey, Mazey? Better use protection, love!"
He waddled away and left me to deal with the awkward silence, and my companion to search through her notebag for something. Protection, presumably.
"Maisy. Like Daisy? But with an M?"
She didn't look up from the depths of her bag. "Mazey, like a labyrinth."
"Your parents named you after a puzzle?"
She looked up at that.
"You know there's a difference between a labyrinth and a maze, don't you."
It was a question framed as a statement. I sensed that if i got this wrong i'd not be seeing that skirt unzip after all.
"Of course. A maze is a puzzle, and a labyrinth is just a complex, twisting path that leads from the outside to the centre. There's no decisions to make in a labyrinth, you just have to keep walking, and not lose heart. But still, you're Mazey. Your parents named you after a puzzle."
"Mazey is just my name for this pub. I have different names for different places, different people, different situations."
The barman slammed down my VB and placed her clear drink gracefully in front of her.
"Eight fifty, mate."
I handed him a ten and i watched her drink her water, or vodka, or whatever it was.
She was still rummaging in her notebag. I sipped my beer.
"Found it. Here, write your name and numbers in this."
She handed me an open and folded back spiral-bound visual diary and a pencil. It was blue, the pencil, and i wanted to ask its history and provenance, but she was chugging her drink and i suspected that if i wasted time i might miss out on the Thing.
I scribbled my name and gmail onto the page it was opened at. She snatched it from me before i could flip back through the pages. Her empty glass thudded down onto the bar.
It was an awkward moment. I hadn't finished my beer, but she was offering me sex, right now. This was exactly the sort of social conundrum that should be taught in High School.
Of course, i quickly abandoned the beer, frosty and refreshing though it had been, and followed her to the disabled toilet.
"Close the door."
She was already topless, her blouse stowed in her notebag. She was fussing around with something else in there, a small frown creasing her brow. I slid the door closed and snibbed the tumbler.
"I just had the damn thing..."
I wanted to walk up to her and cup her breasts, but that seemed a little forward.
I started taking off my pants instead.
"There!" She held up the visual diary in triumph and then slammed it down on the little dresser, starting straight away to rummage through her pencil case.
It was just about the nicest disabled toilet i'd ever been in. The dresser was a stained wood, and not stained with urine or anything as you might have expected. The tiles hinted of the pub's more elegant days, and the whole place was quite large. I calculated that it was actually larger than my room at the student hostel.
I pulled my shirt over my head and looked to her to start getting into the whole Thing.
I didn't want to pull down my underpants while she was still sorting out her stationery.
So i stood there. For several minutes.
I started getting cold.
I realised that she being the girl, this whole Thing was on her terms, but it did suddenly seem strange to me that she was fiddling about with stationery while she should have been, i dunno, doing foreplay or something.
"You want me to take off your skirt?"
She turned around and looked at me as if she'd forgotten that i was there. "What? Oh."
She reached behind her and unzipped that zipper. She was already back at the pencil case before the skirt had hit the floor. She didn't even step out of it.
"Never mind me, i'll be right. If you want to start, just go ahead. Here."
Now she stepped out of the dropped skirt and pushed her rather lovely bottom back at me, placing her feet apart. Her elbows were on the dresser and her hands in her pencil case, in case you're working on a diagram.
My erection was fine with all this. It just wanted me to let it out and put it in.
My brain was a little slow, though.
I stood there, dick bulging, brain processing what was happening. Or about to happen. My call.
The unmistakeable sound of pencil scribbling on paper filled the room, over the quiet meditations of the water systems in the walls.
She was drawing?
The scribbling stopped and she turned to look at me over her shoulder.
"You look like you've never had sex with someone in a public toilet before!"
"Sorry. I'm not George Michael, i suppose."
"It's pretty straight forward. That mother of yours did tell you about the birds and bees, right? You know where the honey's kept, that sort of thing?"
"Could you at least... put the pencils down for a minute?"
I felt i might have been underselling myself with "a minute", but it was too late for market research.
She was more focused on the "put the pencils down" part of my request anyway.
"Drawing is what i do while the Thing happens. It's how i float my boat, to use an expression my grandpa used to use. Don't tell me you have a problem with that."
I feared that i did, in fact, have a problem with that.
"Well. I thought you were interested in the Thing. It'd be disappointing if we'd gone to all this trouble and it turns out you're not."
"I'm still interested in the Thing, of course i am. You are beautiful and... everything... but i just think you should focus more on the Thing and less on your Derwents."
She put down the pencil in her hand and turned right around to face me. She was magnificent, and i suddenly had a change of heart. It was clear to me now that what i should do was to doggy her while she drew in that book of hers, and i should just shut the hell up about her focusing on the Thing and i should just get on with it...
"The Derwents, as you call them, are part of the Thing. Understand? Some people like lingerie, some people like to slap each other with whips or smear each other with chocolate custard. I like to draw. OK?"
This now seemed much more reasonable to me than it had a few seconds earlier, before she had turned around to face me.
She turned back to her visual diary and started the sh-sh-sh-sh sounds of art again.
I pulled down my underpants to my knees and sidled up behind her.
The pencils in her bun were right in my face.
They put off my aim a little.
"That's my bumhole. Here."
She pushed her bottom even further out, and i found where she kept the honey.
It struck me how precisely, how snugly we fitted together. We'd not even met an hour earlier, and now here we were, perfectly joined together like we were made for it.
Which, of course, we were.
It reminded me of those pencils of hers, the way they were assembled. An everyday miracle.
"Can i come inside you?"
"Can you hold on a bit longer?"
Her sh-sh-sh-sh sped up.
"I'm... not sure... But can i come inside you, or do you want me to come onto your back or something?"
"This isn't porn, of course i want you to come inside me. Just not yet."
I could feel my balls quivering. Her body shook just ever so slightly as she moved the pencil furiously across the paper.
That ever so slightly was just ever so slightly enough.
"That's fine. Just don't pull out just yet."
It was a bit surreal, standing there in a public toilet, hanging out of a girl i'd just met, knew nothing about, not even her name, not really.
While she finished colouring in.
"OK, done. Thanks."
I pulled out and took a handful of toilet paper to clean myself. She was standing upright, examining the visual diary, one hand on her chin.
"Can i see?"
She turned and looked at me.
"Oh, no. Out of the question."
"What did you draw?"
"What do you think?"
"No. See, that's why i can't let you see it."
"Can i never see it?"
"Never is a long time. Maybe one day."
"In that other life? The one where i know you?"
She closed the diary and stowed it in her bag. Her blouse was around her shoulders before i knew it.
"Sure. Why not."
She buttoned up in world record time and had the skirt zipped up in equally fast measure.
"Stranger things have happened."
She didn't even wait for me to pull up my underpants before she unsnibbed the door and disappeared.
The walk across the floor of the bar was awkward. The barman with the face tattoo was standing regarding me, his satanic knuckle symbols on display on the top of the bar.
Mazey, or whatever her real name was, was gone.
"I tipped your drink out, mate. Hope you don't mind. Nice to meet you."
I wanted to ask him about her, but i could sense that he wouldn't be answering any of my questions.
I went back to the library. The tome was still there, but it was in a pile of books that the librarian had collected, ready for reshelving.
I dragged out my notebooks and opened up to where i had been working last.
That's when i found the bookmark. Drawing cartridge. Coloured pencil.
I raised it to my nose and breathed in.
Cadmium was in there, along with half a dozen other scents i didn't yet know. Fragrances from that other life.
I carefully closed the heart inside my notebook, and waited for that other life to appear.
Of course it may never happen.
But never is a long time.