He followed her everywhere. On Twitter, on the various blogs she’d started over the years, on Facebook and Google Plus. He followed her down the street, into the supermarket and out again, up to her office at work and back down to the parking lot at the end of the day, out to bars where she met dates and was disappointed and then back to her apartment where she went to sleep, often in tears.
He followed her moods, whims and crazes. He followed her progress when she decided to learn French, when she took up violin, when she began to take aerobics classes. He followed her as she gave each up carelessly, pretending the hobbies and skills she tried to acquire meant nothing. He followed her hand as she scratched frantically in her journal, bemoaning her latest failure and wishing to be someone else.
He followed her across the country when she ran away, hoping that a fresh start would make everything different. He followed her dizzy spiral of hope and contentment and its fizzle back down to the familiar low ebb of desperation.
He followed her up the building but held his arm out so she couldn’t jump. He followed her into the bathtub and took away the razor-blade so she couldn’t cut. He followed her into the garage and unplugged the exhaust pipe so she couldn’t suffocate. He followed her gently, quietly, invisibly, a guardian angel in her atheist world, wishing he could tell her how wonderful she was.
Mick groaned at the blinking icon on his camera’s screen; his battery was nearing empty and he had nowhere to recharge it. It was a heavy thing, one of those cameras that impress people because they make a click-click sound when they snap a photo. Nowadays there were plenty of puny digital cameras that made the same sound just for the effect of it. Mick hated those.
He wasn’t the best-looking guy in the world, but he’d learned to use what nature had given him to good advantage. When his buddies asked him how he did it, how he managed to get the one-night stands past his wife, he just smiled knowingly. The truth was that Brenda didn’t give a rat’s ass about him anymore. He suspected that she, too, had a couple of men at her beck and call. The bitch.
Turning off the camera to conserve the battery, Mick stretched. There wasn’t much room in the car – there was another thing that wasn’t fair, his wife had gotten the new car and left him with this hunk of junk – and he had to turn so that his left arm would have some room to maneuver.
Across the street, the line in front of the nightclub never seemed to get any shorter. New people kept coming: women who looked prepubescent and too-thin, men with elaborate sweeping hair-dos made to look casual, muscled and toned giants, fake girls with more plastic in their body than actual tissue. Mick was a simply guy, he liked his women real, even if it meant that they sagged a little or were a bit uneven. But his work revolved around places like this, where he got to see this other world that he would never belong to.
Like always, the space of a blink changed everything. Mick straightened up, alert, switching his camera on and bringing it close to his eye. The door to the club had opened and two well-known faces came out. They were holding hands. They leaned towards each other for a kiss and Mick began to click away.