Change Your Mind

Entry by: Alex Fleet

28th September 2018
She walked. I followed her. I nearly lost her, in the crowd. What would I do if I lost her? I would never see her again. I followed closer. I was behind her. She strode quickly, purposefully, through the crowd. I could barely keep up. I was right behind her, this unknown woman, as she reached the platform for the metro. There was a clatter of steel on steel, a blur of speed, a flurry of stale air and I caught a hint of her perfume as the front of the train surged past, pushing the air, her air, past me in a rush.

A squeal of tortured brakes, a rattle of doors and we surged forward, her in front of me, close. As the bodies surged, she stopped, in front of me. Motionless, she turned, faced me. Looked at me. Eye to eye, she looked at me face to face, in my eyes, unblinking. I didn’t notice if she had turned her whole body. I didn’t see her body. Only her eyes, unblinking, penetrating. I didn’t see the expression on her face. Only her eyes.

Then she was gone. I glimpsed her as the train left, a figure amongst the others, trapped within the steel tomb of the metro as it sped towards its terrible fate. My head told me I would never, never see her again and I felt a loss, as if indeed the train had fallen over an imaginary cliff, or plunged into an imaginary bottomless hole in the ground. I foretold I would never see her again. But I was wrong.

He played. He played and sang at the same time. I was captivated. Yeah, ok, you get plenty of guys who will play a guitar and sing at the same time. Thousands, millions. In fact most people would just love to be able to sing and play a guitar at the same time, even if they couldn’t: and there are as many people who just think that they can. But this guy did, he did, and in such a way that mesmerised me. The combination of chords and crooning which magically gave way to choral and classical then rock and pop and piercing, heart-rending lyrics. I had never heard anything quite like it. I moved forward, squeezing through the crowd, squeezing, sliding between bodies, large blank backs, sharp elbows. Somehow, I was at the front, he was in front of me. I watched his fingers as they stroked the strings, hit them, abused them, plucked them, drew artistry and life out of their coldness.

Then, suddenly, he had finished. I looked up. He was looking at me. Eye to eye, he looked at me, face to face, looked in my eyes, unblinking. I didn’t register his body, I couldn’t tell you whether he was wearing jeans, a shirt, or no shirt. Only his eyes, unblinking, penetrating. I didn’t see the expression on his face. Only his eyes.
Then he was gone. I caught a glimpse of his back, disappearing between the others in his group.

I saw her again. A couple of times. On the metro. A silhouette, a figure amongst the others, flashing past unseeing in the speeding window. A shadow on the platform, a brief glimpse. Then other times, and I wondered if I was imagining things. Everywhere I looked, she was there, on street corners, walking into shops, waiting at bus stops. I chased after her a few times but never was it she, this person, the girl I had seen. Maybe I hadn’t seen her at all.

He was there again, at the same small bar, playing his bewitching music. Each time, I watched, quietly from the back, spooked by his piercing gaze that first time. The mesmerisation of the music never changed. Why was he here? He should be playing to thousands at some sort of concert. But he was here, just feet away. I felt honoured, so lucky. I felt he was playing just for me. Then from the stage, far away the other side of the room, beyond the surging, dancing bodies, he stared at me, held my gaze. How did he keep on playing, and singing, while he stared at me. For me the world stopped. I could feel my synapses, my mind, shifting as he gazed at me.

Then, one day, out on the street, he was there. I didn’t go to him. He came to me. Somehow, I felt he was there before I felt his gentle hand on my shoulder. He was behind me, I could feel him breathing. I turned and as I looked at him, his was the same direct gaze as when he was singing and playing. But now he was silent. He smiled at me, a crooked, self-conscious smile.

“So” he said, “You like my music?”

I couldn’t at that moment frame a reply, too busy gazing in his eyes.

“You’re always there” he continued, “At the back, watching.”

I nodded.

“Listening. To my music.”

I nodded again. He looked sad.

“You’re the only one who does”, the disappointment in his voice touching me.

I wanted to say that I thought it was the most wonderful, powerful, soul-touching music I had ever heard and why wasn’t he the most famous musician I had heard of. But still I couldn’t speak.

“No-one else listens. They’re all busy moaning about their day at work, or sucking up to their boss, or trying to impress the girlfriend or boyfriend. I can hardly hear myself think. Or play. I just have to block them out.”

I finally replied, surprised. “I can only hear your music”, I said. “I’ve never noticed the crowd.”

He was pleased.

“You fancy a drink?” he asked.

Would I? Who cares about the drink, he was asking me to go with him, he was going to spare me time, all to me, just him and me.

So, we went to a quiet bar.

Later, when we parted, and he walked towards the metro, he reminded me of someone I knew, but could not quite think of at that moment.

She was on the metro, I saw her ahead of me. Was it her? Probably not. But I had to find out. I was behind her, and with the fewer crowds this Friday morning, people taking a long weekend, I was able to study her and see her, not just her eyes. Slim, boyish figure, neat hair, beautiful posture. Alert, intelligent. As she walked forward toward the train as it came in, I watched her move, graceful and lightstepped. I was sure this was her.

I was right behind her. I wanted to say hello, say hi. But what to say then? Couldn’t quite make it, make that brave step.

As the train stopped, the doors opened and she paused, she turned towards me, again. Met my eyes, gazed eye to eye. And smiled, grinned.

“Hey, you! How you doing?” she laughed.

I was confused.

“You getting on or what?” still laughing, smiling at me.

I was rooted to the spot.

“Waiting for the next train? See you tonight?” With that the doors shut and she mouthed “Bye” through the glass, then the train was gone and I was standing, stunned into immobility.

That night I saw her again. She played, and sang, at the same time, the mesmerising music, while she smiled at me, gazing at her, from the back of the room. Somehow, then, I was at the front, gazing up at her. Then, somehow, I was up next to her, facing the crowd, singing with her as she played.

We saw more of each other. Spent time together. Sat close together on the metro, explored the city, then out to the country. A couple of hours somehow stretched into a couple of days. It seemed so natural to sleep over at each other’s places, or simply together if we were away for the weekend. And, I do mean sleep, not in that clichéd way that seems sadly to be passe for more adventurous, carnal pursuits. I could not somehow abuse our relationship by even thinking of this aspect.

After a while, we knew each other better and in the sun and shorts her slim, svelt figure moved even more gracefully than on the metro platform.

After a little longer, with a smile, he turned and faced me when I accidentally burst into the bathroom when the door was unlocked. He had just showered, the room steamed up, his body moist and glistening. As I stared, confused, he just smiled and waited for me to say something.

Finally, she gently placed her hands around my neck and drew me to her, held me close.

For me the world stopped. I could feel my synapses, my mind, shifting as he; she gazed at me.

I held her tight, close, his damp, warm body soaking my t-shirt. I could feel her chest, her breast pressed against me, his taut stomach against mine.

Them, we were on the bed in the apartment.

So are you a guy or a girl? Man or woman? Do you decide one day to the next, each hour, or even each minute, which you will be? Or are you either? Or neither. How do you make up your mind?

Do you change your mind? How often do you change your mind?

Does it matter? All I care is that it is you, like everyone else, unique.

You are you, with your eye to eye gaze, your mesmerising music, your graceful girlish figure, your boyish curves, your beautiful, warm smile, your vulnerability.

Whichever you are, girl, or boy or it doesn’t matter: don’t change your mind.