A young man stood in front of me. Slightly overweight with a bad crew cut. His left arm was heavily bandaged. He held it out to me like an offering – a kind gesture.
“What happened to you?” I asked. He dipped his head shyly and poked a toe at the grubby, coffee-stained carpet.
“It’s a long story.” He mumbled, “I was in love with a girl. I loved her for a really long time.”
His eyes flashed up briefly to catch mine. Glancing up to the right and back to the floor he continued.
“We always walked to school together – I was, I guess, obsessed with her.” I could see another flicker in his eyes, but of hesitation or clutching at a memory. “I bought her flowers and chocolates, wrote her cards and love letters. For a long time…” he trailed off.
“I dunno…” He scrunched his face up as if he was in pain, then breathed out, “Six years, three months, one week and four days.” And obviously still counting, alarmingly!
“That’s a long time to love someone.” I said.
It’s a long time to love someone if they don’t love you back.” He said, looking directly at me – scrutinizing my reaction.
“So why did you keep writing and giving to her?”
I thought she would love me if I could show her how much I loved her. I thought I could have her. She would be mine – but she left. She came up here, to the big smoke. She got a job, and apartment, new friends – a whole life of her own. What she didn’t realise was that she was my life. So I came to live here too. Then I followed her from her work one day. Just pretended I was in the area and had bumped into her, random like. That was not a very good thing to do – she got really mad and told me to leave…to leave her alone.” He stopped, rubbed his good arm across his eyes and sighed.
“That’s when I got this really cool idea!” His face lit up with his remembered ingenuity. “See, I read in a book somewhere that Van Gough had cut his ear off and sent it to the love of his life. So I thought to myself that I would prove how much I loved her – I would send her my arm. That’s bigger than an ear – it must mean more! So the next day I go to work and do my job. When I thought everyone had gone home, I turned my skill-saw back on and tried to cut my arm off.” He swallows a gulp of air and grins at me crazily.
“Geez, didn’t that hurt?” I ask.
“That’s why I stopped!” he laughs. “I pushed my arm onto the saw and it sliced quickly -which was my intention. Blood pissed everywhere – it quickly got through the bones before I had a chance to pull back and well….it was just kind of hanging off and that’s when I thought to myself; Shit, what the hell am I doing – this hurts! What a mess too. I would’ve died too , I suppose, if the other guy hadn’t heard me screaming before I passed out.”
© Kait King, 2015