John had the song ‘Here she comes now’, originally from the Velvet Underground, but covered by Nirvana in some radio session in Holland on repeat while he was taking a shower.

Here she comes now, here she comes now, here she comes now. She’s never looked so beau-ti-ful.

He got flashes of O walking up to him in a white dress, with one of her big smiles sending rays of sun through the pit of his stomach. Boy, could that girl smile.

John hadn’t talked to O since the 5th of January. Still, she was his first thought in the morning. Maybe not exactly his first. He would check the time on his phone, that he scooped off the ground. He would shake off some dream. And then it would hit him like a stab with an ice cold blade through his spinal cord. O. The fact that she was out there somewhere, in the same city, about 14 kilometers away or 50 minutes in the tram and 15 minutes of walking away. Yet they weren’t together and if they would see each other today it would only be for two seconds in passing. Two seconds. The time it takes to decapitate a man. The time it takes to be ridden down by a horse on the battlefield. The time it took to mess up his concentration for the rest of the day. What somehow helped was coffee. Drinking the equivalent of about 20 cups of coffee a day. The addiction gave him some direction. He’d started drinking coffee again somewhere in October some time after O got firmly lodged in his mind.

His mind was like a pendulum, swinging back and forth. This is ridiculous, focus on something else. Damn, how can this hurt so much? I so wish we could sit up all night and talk. This is ridiculous, focus on something else. Damn, how can this hurt so much? I so wish we could sit up all night and talk, sip wine all night and talk. And so on.

What took his mind of O was teaching, caring for young people at the brink of adult life, listening to someone in agony or supporting someone who was sruggling with something, these days usually through Facebook or Skype. Luckily there was plenty of that kind of distraction to be had.

When he bumped into her he always got into the mood of ‘this is one of the most out of sync situations I have ever found myself in’, but when he didn’t see her, it was more of a lingering pain. Like cramps you could get used to, painful, discomfitting, but not too distracting. The cramps would be building, like waves, and then when the tsunami struck he found himself crawling up the walls. That’s usually when he contacted a lady friend to calm him down.

He felt he was going to have one of those moments today, so he arranged to meet up with Linda.

John kissed Z who was still sleeping and only woke up to say ‘bye, baby’, and he walked out the door with his laptop bag and his ‘I love Slovakia’ backpack, careful about shutting the door to the apartment quietly.

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