I was trying to work out what was different about the day. It had been gnawing at me you know – you know that feeling like something’s twitching just outside of your peripherals, twitching on the ground but you can’t quite turn around to see what, or where, or how it started twitching in the first place? Yeah, that feeling had been gnawing at me all day as I walked around, dropping off some stuff at Genevieve’s and stopping by the café. Genevieve and I called it quits about a week ago. It was her idea, mind you, but I still felt bad about it, as if I’d run over her cat or something and had to go up to her front door and tell her about it myself. I still felt bad, even though it was like she had run over my cat. Anyway, maybe that’s the feeling I had that day, although it wasn’t quite so sombre as a dead cat. The twitching felt blunt and grating in the kind of way that melancholia wasn’t.
As I was passing through the city on my way back from Genevieve’s to drop off her things, I was feeling the twitching so strongly that I even turned and looked over my shoulder a couple of times. I know I looked ridiculous, looking around behind me like that. Usually I try to be cool about things, especially in places like the city where there are so many people watching. Anyway, as I was walking, I was trying to figure out where it had come from. There had been nothing unusual about this week, except that it had started with Genevieve and ended without her. I wasn’t all that bothered by it, except for the fact that I felt bad about it.
She wasn’t the sort of person you could write about. She was too unassuming, I suppose. I got a story published once, you know. That almost makes me a writer and a writer can’t be with someone that they can’t write about. I made that rule up, but it just makes sense, I guess. Anyway, by the time I’d started thinking about Genevieve again, I was halfway across George St and on my way to the train station. I walk with quite a determined stride, and I was so caught up in Genevieve and the fact that the twitching hadn’t stopped that I was walking rather too determinedly, and people started looking up from the ground and watching me as I crossed the street, except that I didn’t even notice until I’d finished crossing and then I remembered to slow down and look cool again. People are watchers in the city. They watch and watch until you start to feel your own goddam skin burning up. That was the good thing about Genevieve, I guess. You never felt watched when she was looking at you.
I was halfway down the stairs to Platform 3 by this point, and my hand was twitching against the railings. I wasn’t even thinking really, wasn’t thinking about where I was going or the fact that it was towards the train that led out west, back out towards Genevieve’s place. The linoleum was ripping up underneath my feet as I walked onto the train. That’s what it felt like anyway. It felt like my body was ripping at the train. Like it could tear the whole thing apart. Across the carriage a man kept folding and unfolding his newspaper, folding and unfolding like he was looking for something to distract himself. His suit was pinstriped, but in a sort of obnoxious way, as if he really wanted everyone to know that he was wearing a suit. I was looking real hard at it. I was looking too hard and two seconds too late I realised that I was staring. The man looked at me strangely, like he knew I was the sort to not watch people, but who slipped up every now and again and to kick themselves over it.
The train ride was too long, and by the halfway point I think the man had given up. He hung his newspaper hung limply over his knee. By this point, I was really starting to get into my own head. I kept telling myself, over and over: she won’t be home, she’ll be at work still. Over and over. Because even though I was on the train on the way to her house, I knew that if I saw her I’d start to feel bad about everything. It’s not like I didn’t already feel bad. She’ll be at work. At least that’s what I told myself, over and over. She won’t be home. She’ll be at work. Like watching her move around behind her curtained windows would be like seeing my cat being run over, and then again in reverse. Just to make certain that it was dead. She’ll be at work.
I was sort of tense by then, because the sun was starting to set which meant that maybe she would be home. She wouldn’t be at work. I tried not to think about her as I walked off the platform and onto the street. It’s funny, considering the fact that I’m nearly a writer and all and could hardly bring myself to write about her, I sure did think about her a lot. Her. Genevieve. It’s funny to write her name. It almost shouldn’t exist on paper. She’s too unassuming, I guess.
Anyway, by this point I was so caught up in not thinking about her that I barely even noticed that I was outside her apartment, across the street and to the left a bit. We always used to say goodbye here. She was the sort of girl to walk you to the door when you had to leave, and then walk you down the stairs and all the way across the street. Just to make sure you didn’t have to do it alone. The twitching had eased up. The twitching had eased up although I didn’t notice that until afterwards, because I was too busy noticing that her lights were on, and that they were framing two silhouettes in the window. I recognised Genevieve’s right away. I guess you start knowing people like that once you’ve been around them for long enough. The other silhouette wouldn’t detach itself from Genevieve’s, so I couldn’t make it out. I was really kicking myself now, telling myself that I shouldn’t have come, because I’d known that I’d feel bad if I did, and yet I still had to come and check up on her. As I turned away, I thought I saw her tilt her head towards the street. Maybe I’d imagined it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Either way, I don’t even own a cat.