tacy had a thing for stalkers. She could remember each and every one of them and even if her memory failed her, she had a notebook where she kept track of these sorts of things. In the back of the notebook, she listed her top five all-time favorite stalkers:
- Albert. Albert was Stacy’s imaginary friend up until she was six years old. At that point, he claimed to move away. Two weeks after his supposed departure, he reappeared in the trees outside Stacy’s window. He never said anything, and he hid if Stacy tried to talk to him, but he was always there watching her. When Stacy moved away to college, Albert didn’t bother to follow. That was the last time she ever saw him.
- Adam. Adam went to Stacy’s elementary school. They were never in any of the same classes. She was never actually sure if he was even in her grade. She didn’t notice him until the fifth grade. He would follow her from handball court to handball court at recess, but never tried to say anything to her. In the sixth grade, he asked her if she needed help carrying her books. She didn’t. From then on, everyday he would find her outside her classroom at the end of the day and ask her again. One time she said yes, to see if he would leave her alone afterwards. He called her “Rachel” and sang to her “Blue Moon” with a convincing falsetto. Sure enough, the next day he was gone.
- Oren. In her sophomore year of high school, Stacy was accepted into a prestigious summer art school program. She mostly kept to herself and liked best to use the painting rooms in the middle of the night when no one else would be there. Four in the morning was generally her limit, and she would stagger back to her dorm room with a weak flashlight that gave things more of an ethereal glow rather than a spotlight. One day, she heard rustling in the bushes outside the painting rooms as she walked by. The flashlight revealed a boy from two of her classes. “What are you doing?” she had asked. Oren shook his head and ran. The same thing happened five more times in the next month. Then everyone went home for the new school year. He hadn’t even bothered to ask for her number.
- Kristen. Kristen began as a coworker. Their shifts overlapped so their conversations were never very long, but they got along well. Kristen was also an artist and they had similar music tastes. Stacy happened to run out her lease at the same time as Kristen was looking for a new roommate. Kristen put forth an offer, and Stacy said she would think about it. She invited Kristen out for drinks so that she could judge if their personalities matched enough to make compatible roommates. Although they had a good time, Stacy ended up electing to live in some less expensive apartments on the other side of town. Kristen did not take this news well. She began following Stacy after work. This culminated in a confrontation in the work parking lot during which the manager had to come and lead Kristen back inside after Kristen tried to kiss Stacy, who was more shocked than unwilling. A week later, Kristen quit and Stacy never saw her again.
- Damon. Damon…
Damon’s story wasn’t written yet. But he did something no other stalker had done: He wrote her haikus on small typewriter notes and hid them through her day at the university for her to find. Once she found one tucked into the door of her car. Once in her backpack. Once in her pocket. That one was her favorite. Damon had green eyes and black hair. He could climb trees quick as a cat and could gracefully move through bushes without a sound. His animal scent mixed with his aftershave was intoxicating. Stacy felt her knees weaken whenever the fragrance neared. She knew his name only because he worked in the library and wore a nametag around his neck. Whenever she tried to catch his eye amongst the rows and rows of books, he pretended not to notice her.
She hadn’t realized that she had rearranged her days to give him more opportunities to find her, until the day he went missing and she was forced to wonder why she was taking the routes she did and loitering when she had plenty to do. It alarmed her to have no notes, to not have his comforting presence near, to have no idea where he could possibly be.
It was three weeks before she finally could stand it no longer. She could not sleep. She spent all day rereading her haikus. Her days lost their focus. Enough was enough.
For the first time in her life, Stacy decided to take an active role in her romances. She went to the local copy shop and made copies of some of his poems. From them she cut out words and taped them together to compose him a letter: “You are gone. Find me please. I miss you.”
She went to the library and asked if he was working that day. He had quit. Three weeks ago. They didn’t know where he had gone.
Feeling her heart harden and then crack under the pressure, Stacy gasped and ran outside. She melted near a planter and let her head bow into her lap, her elbows shutting out any daylight.
A flutter of paper awoke her from her spell, and she looked up. Six inches in front of her in the grass, a paper crane sat and eyed her. Her eyes darted around but she could see no one. She lifted the crane and caressed it in her palm. It smelled like him. She opened it. That typewriter print for which she had been longing winked at her.
“I love you too.”
Stacy laughed so hard she felt her eyes well up and begin leaking. She brought the paper up to her nose (which, unfortunately, would never again be a crane), and inhaled as deeply as she could. Then she took out her stalker notebook and began writing Damon’s story. She drew hearts in the columns.
Never before had she more looked forward to walking home alone.