[Main story: Smooth Operator]
“I’m s-sorry, I-I have t-to… go. Now.”
And off she goes. Before I am able to think of anything else to say, she is gone. Do I go after her? It looked like she was about to run though, and she’s more fit than me. I doubt I could catch up.
Cecilie is a good friend. Basically my only friend here. Neither of us have really socialised much here at uni, but due to sitting close to each other in lectures, we ended up bonding.
However, something has been strange with her lately. I started noticing a few weeks back, but it might have been going on for longer. She’ll go quiet, and sometimes won’t look me in the eyes. Every so often it feels like she’s avoiding me, but then the next day she’ll seem fine again. She’ll get distant and distracted, then pull herself back together. There’s clearly something on her mind, and I figured she would just tell me when she’s ready.
But today… what even was that? Was she finally trying to tell me? But then she froze, and… ran away, I guess? Is that what she did? Just what is going on? … fuck if I know.
Maybe she’s having some personal issues that are weighing heavy on her. Maybe I did something to upset her, but she can’t figure out how to bring it up. Maybe something is wrong with her health. I really don’t know, but she’s making me worry. There’s something she’s really worried about telling me. Perhaps it’s time to try to prompt her a little.
I don’t see her at all on Tuesday, even though we share two lectures then, but on Wednesday she shows up again. It’s the usual time for our study session, but she seems to be distracted again. I wave at her to get her attention.
“Oh hey, Cecilie!” Did she just flinch? At least she’s coming over. “I didn’t see you around yesterday.”
“Ah, yeah… I-I wasn’t feeling well,” she says as she takes a seat. What’s with the stammering all of a sudden? “I thought it was b-best if I took a d-day off.” I guess she did look a bit odd back then.
“Hm… well, you did seem a bit red on Monday,” I recall. A fever? “Maybe you caught one of those 24-hour flus.” Perhaps she just suddenly had to go throw up or something.
“Y-yeah, maybe…” Though wouldn’t that normally make you go pale? Speaking of…
“Are you sure you’re okay now? You’re looking a bit pale.” She finally looks my way as I say that, giving me a smile.
“I think I’m fine,” she claims. “A few remaining aches, but not enough to stay home another day.” She does seem to have improved a little now that she’s sat down. Maybe standing was making her dizzy. I’m not convinced she should be here, but it’s her call. I put aside my worries for now, and smile back at her. I think a bit of colour is returning to her face as well.
“If you say so.” I’m still worried, but I’m not sure if chasing her back home is the right thing either. “I’ll try to catch you up on what they covered yesterday.” She thanks me, and we go over the important stuff. It doesn’t take too long, so we’re quickly back to regular studying.
I glance over at her occasionally, and she seems to be relaxing again. After a while it’s like things are back to normal. But for how long?
“Hey Linda, I’m not sure I get this part…”
“Which part?” I lean over to see, and I can tell she suddenly tenses up. She points at the passage she means. “Oh yeah! I was just there earlier. You see-” I start explaining to her, and she seems to be paying attention just fine. Maybe I just imagined it… but as I sit back up in my chair I’m certain I hear her sigh. Just focus on your own studies.
A little bit after I hit upon a part I can’t get really figure out. I ponder it over for a few moments, but I can’t work it out. Cecilie doesn’t have this subject, but…
“Hey Cecilie, can I get your opinion here?”She leans over to see like I did, except she moves so carefully I can’t help but eye her strangely. She gives her opinion like she normally would though. Perhaps she actually is feeling better.
I’m starting to feel a bit restless. Maybe a good stretch will help. I stand up so I’m able to stretch out fully, then take a moment to think. No one can blame me if I bring this up now, right? I’ll just go for it.
Sitting back down again I consider how I want to word this. This doesn’t seem like a situation where it’s good to not think things through before I speak. I don’t really know how to lead into this, so… I look over at her.
“So what was it you wanted?” She looks up at me, clearly confused.
“Huh?” She genuinely sounds confused too. I guess I shouldn’t have expected this to be on the front of her mind as it is to me.
“What was it you wanted? You know, on Monday?” Ah, I can see she’s starting to realise now. “You really looked like you were going to say something, before you…” How do I phrase this? Is it too mean to say she ran away? Hm… “… changed your mind.”
“I c-can’t remember.” Her stammering is back, and she doesn’t sound particularly convincing. Whatever it is, it’s clearly a sore spot. “I-if it comes to m-mind again, I’ll l-let you know.” She tries to smile, but that doesn’t look particularly convincing either. Bloody hell, Cecilie.
“Mm…” I don’t believe her, but I also don’t think I’m going to get anything out of her if I keep pushing, so I decide to accept it. “Okay. I hope you are able to remember.”
We don’t really say anything more before the lecture starts, except when she gets up to get drinks, and asks me what I want.
The first half of the lecture also passes in silence, which normally wouldn’t be that weird, but right now it feels like there’s some barrier hanging between us. It makes the silence feel heavy and oppressive.
As we hit the break I can hear a small bonk, and I see Cecilie has put her head down on the bench-top. What on Earth are you thinking about? She abruptly sits back up and startles me, then turns towards me. I guess she’s made her mind up, but about what?
“U-um, Linda? Would y-you… I mean… d-do you want to go for pizza on Friday?” I blink a little. Was that it? Geez, what is with this girl? I can’t help but smile a little. What a weird thing to ask so nervously.
“Sure. The usual place?” I ask, and her reaction, the shy way she nods, makes me want to laugh. She can be unexpectedly cute at times.
“Right then. When were you thinking?” Maybe she is finally going to tell me what the hell has been going on for the past month or however long. Wow, she is putting more thought into this than I expected.
“Um… around six?” she settles on. I chuckle lightly.
“Alright. Around six it is,” I agree. Why does she suddenly seem so pleased? We’ve gone out to eat several times. I suppose I’ll find out on Friday.
[Sequel: A Serving of Relief]