4. Him

When reading this and the following entries, I have no doubt, every one of you, to one degree or another, will tinker with the notion that I have a mind made of chunky delusional soup, but I assure you, I am in full control of my mental faculties. For now, I ask you to do no more than humour the possibility of what is to follow. There was a man who first spoke of the Earth as round rather than flat. Simply read with an open mind and ask, what if?

 I thought I was prepared for the moment He might walk through the door—but I don’t think anyone can be prepared for meeting a man like Him. What was I expecting—a man who makes sticky-tac cats? A man who is either disorganised or extremely busy? A man who coughs behind one-way mirrors? At least one redeeming feature is that he is a cat person. Whether good or bad, I didn’t have to wait long to find out who the sticky-tac cat man was; in the afternoon on my second day, He walked in.

After enjoying lengthy stretches of my own company, I find myself distracted by the presence of anyone else whatsoever, but His presence was permeating. On approach, His footsteps felt to echo despite being stealthy silent, causing an involuntary straightening in my back. I shuddered. Perhaps these feelings were pre-meeting anxiety—perhaps it wasn’t—but as he walked in, I felt the air around me distort to some extent, or curve, like light turning a corner. He held a subtle but peculiar magnetism in the room, an omnipresence, which at the time, perturbed me. This aura came parcelled with a sense of awe, and he had yet to utter a word.

Andrew introduced himself and welcomed me. He had the audacity to tell me that He hoped his filing wasn’t ‘too bad’. I mumbled that it was fine, despite my thoughts: He didn’t seem like a man you complained to. He was friendly enough but spoke like twiglets: short and interesting. A silence fell between us, and I felt the lightning terror of a panic attack descend onto me. I used an old high school trick to calm myself. I remembered my list of small talk starters—my saviours. Into the silent tundra, I blurted the first one that came to mind.

“Do you like cats? I like cats.” As soon as the words had left my lips, I realised how my question drew a clashing chord with our circumstances. Andrew looked up from what He was writing, quizzically. I had disturbed him.

“Why would you think that?” he asked. My cheeks filling in crimson, I explained about the sticky-tac cat I found on the desk.

“I have no idea where that came from,” he dismissed, sending us into a conversation cul-de-sac. He went back to his writing, but His eyes remained glued steadily on me as His pen bobbed in use, as though He knew where things were without needing to see them. I don’t like being observed, which is funny, because it’s mostly what I do to others all day. I suppose this was a taste of my own medicine. For over half a minute, I could see his eyes overtly analysing me, prodding and poking: a cat playing with his food. I am sure he knew his stare made me uncomfortable. All the time He stared, His pen continued to scratch in chirography. I figured it was for show, another test? His writing could not be legible or anywhere close to within in the lines. Finally, I could stand his stare no longer. He said so little and I couldn’t read Him.

“Can we open the window, please?” I spoke out, deafening myself in the quiet. I could feel beads of sweat dripping down my chest, drums of the deep thundered in my ears. A little fresh air would be so much better.

“No, you must never open the window—please,” he answered, as though ‘please’ was an afterthought he was unused to making.

I wondered why; it was a very normal request. I turned to look at the line of birds singing on the windowsill. The birds faced into the office, watching us and singing lullabies—goodness knows, I needed a lullaby!

At this dead-end, I quietly delved into the database—what I do best. I don’t know how to deal with every-day people, let alone this man—databases make far more sense. I was pleased He didn’t seem too keen to converse with me either. I believe it was my introversion and reluctance to be involved in conversation of any kind that caused Him to let down his guard to me, and for me to know what I know now. People assume I am inert; I am anything but. I keep my head down, not wishing to be seen, but I observe, listening and absorbing everything. How else does one navigate the boredom of never-ending database entries?

At His arrival, others began knocking and entering the room. He was a flag tower. A flag tower I did not need. Entrants to the office were clearly as perturbed by his presence as I was. Their manner was awkward, their cover-up was like cheap concealer—I could see straight through it. You learn how to recognise the smallest mannerisms when you spend your life watching people and not speaking. People generally overlook me; I am nothing of note: a nobody, and fit the role well.

The birds on the windowsill kept me entertained. There were more of them now, six I counted, proudly peeping a harmony and peering chirpily into the office. I wondered why they observed inwards—I have never seen birds stare into a room before. Perhaps he feeds them. As Andrew spoke to his colleagues, he would move around the office—and this brought out the most hilarious behaviour in the birds, the likes of which I have never seen before; the birds hopped and fluttered back and forth to follow Him. It made me want to laugh. It was especially funny on a couple of occasions when Andrew had to fetch some files from the other end of the office, the birds hopped one way and the other, like sliding units on an abacus, chirruping happily. I had never met birds who liked to play before—nature can be the most perfectly wonderful thing—and he seemed oblivious. Shortly after, He caught me chuckling and I pointed to the line of birds, eight of them now. He walked over and shut the blinds. I guess I have learned he is not an animal person.

He walked out of his office, shutting the door behind him, without sparing a glance in my direction. I didn’t see him again that day.

After he left, I lifted the blind to see if the birds were still there, but they had flown away. To the right were the papers he had been blindly writing on whilst watching me earlier; his writing was flourishing and neat and perfectly within the lines.

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