If It’s Possible to Die From Tea Poisoning, I Might Be Getting Close

I gulped down a gazillion gallons of hot tea and shocked my body with a pile of Paracetamol pills but I still don’t feel strong enough to leave the house. What house, I’m chained to my bed. My whole body aches, my head is heavy, and every miserable attempt to swallow my saliva feels like somebody was stroking my inner throat with a rake. Sounds familiar?

When the three-minute walk to the corner bodega I took to replenish my home remedies made me so exhausted that I felt like lying down on the sidewalk, I decided to crawl back to my bed and embrace the malaise. As in wearing pajamas the whole day and not showering. And drinking so much black tea with honey and lemon that I needed to gag just by thinking about it. It’s supposed to alleviate cold symptoms.

Just to make sure I do everything I can for my quick recovery, I bought a box of Belgian chocolate chip cookies because shockingly, I have no appetite for any regular food but still crave sugar. Who understands this? The combination of eating crap food and lying in bed all day surely is a great way to keep fit.

Staying in drives me crazy. Not so much the “being home” part but rather the “not having a choice” part. I’m held hostage in my own house because even though my mom is not here to forbid me from going out like she did when I was a kid, it feels too hard to get dressed or walk to the door, so I stay in, by choice.

I tried to look at the bright side and the idea of catching up with emails, binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, and finishing at least one of the sixteen books I’d been piling up on my bedside table for months cheered me up for a second, but my enthusiasm rapidly vanished when I realized that I didn’t feel like doing any of these. As if being ill would have turned me into a completely different person. I just wanted out. Of the house and the feeling of miserableness.

It used to be so much fun to be sick! When I was in school, not having to attend classes for an entire week felt like hitting the jackpot. My grandma would stay home and take care of me. When my tea got cold in the mug, she would always refill it with freshly made, steaming hot brew with lemon and honey. She would tuck me in tightly and open the windows for a couple of minutes to “air the bacilli out.”

She would always ask me what I felt like eating for lunch and even if I’d said Boeuf Bourguignon, she would have made it for me. (Don’t worry, I usually stuck with boiled potatoes or pancakes.) From time to time, she would put her hand on my forehead to check my temperature and ask, “How are you feeling, sweetheart?” and the empathy, selflessness, and love in her eyes made me feel better already.

I enjoyed being my granny’s patient so much that I made a habit of it. From sixth grade on, I “scheduled” sick leaves for myself, at least one per term. When I got tired of school and felt like having a break, I decided to become sick. As in pretending to be sick. And I must admit, I’m a little proud of how I mastered the ability of simulation over those years.

I didn’t only have to fool my mom but also the doctors, so I had to make sure that my illness seemed real. As much fun as that would have been, I couldn’t fake mumps or chicken pox, so I stuck to the good old flu. I knew most of the symptoms from my previous experiences, but just to be on the safe side, I also did some research in the school library.

Timing mattered too. School always started on Monday, so around 2 pm on Sunday, I started to complain to my mom that I wasn’t feeling well. When she asked me what was wrong, I said I felt weak and my arms hurt and put on a miserable face like every move would exhaust me. It worked every time, and with worry in her eyes, she would always say, “Oh, I hope you don’t have the flu, darling,” and put her hand on my forehead. “I don’t think you have a temperature,” she said, but she would bring the thermometer anyway.

And that was always a risk until I learned how to fake fever. My first attempt for hacking the thermometer failed miserably. I held it under running hot water and it exploded in my hand. Being the most hopeless empirical learner in the world, this encouraged me to experiment with other methods. On the next occasion, I was rubbing the thermometer against my pajama pants. It required more effort and time than the hot water trick, but it worked perfectly and was completely safe.

I wanted to seem credible, so I always kept my fake temperature around 100 °F on the first night of my fake illness. This wasn’t as high that my mom would freak out and call the doctor but high enough to make her believe that I had the flu. I went to bed earlier than usual that night, proving that I really wasn’t feeling well and my mom would always say, “Sweet dreams, darling, I hope you’ll sleep it off and feel much better tomorrow.” And that’s when I had to raise the stakes. It was time for some serious coughing fits and frequent toilet visits.

I fake-coughed the whole night and made sure that I did it loud enough to wake my mom. If that wouldn’t have been sufficient, I also went to the bathroom at least three times, made a lot of noise, coughed a bit more, and let the water run – just to be absolutely certain that my mom was aware of my night-time agony. And she always was. She would always come to my room in the middle of the night, hand me a glass of water and a coughing pill, stroke my head, and give me a sympathetic look.

Just as planned, I looked terrible the next morning when my mom came to wake me up… to tell me that “there was no way she would let me go to school.” I could barely hide the victorious smile that appeared in the corner of my mouth. She kissed me goodbye and from the door she shouted back, “Grammy is on the way; she’ll be here in an hour, try to go back to sleep until then.” And as she closed the door behind her, I jumped out of bed and did the dance of joy.

I know it sounds like I was manipulative and took advantage of my mom’s good faith, but oh boy, I miss those times!

Adultness sucks. None of the parts of being sick can be the subject of enjoyment anymore as we have all these annoying adult responsibilities to deal with. Like trying to make a living and feeding ourselves. When you are on sick leave, nobody does the work for you. The longer you stay away, the more swamped you’ll be upon your return. Where’s the fun in that?

Nobody takes care of me now when I’m sick. My grandma resides in a nursing home and needs to be taken care of herself, my mom lives a thousand miles away from me, and I don’t have a significant other who’d be sitting on my bed and feeding me with chicken soup. Or maybe I just keep to myself when I’m sick because I don’t want anyone to see the dark circles under my eyes, my grayish-colored, lifeless cheeks, and my unwashed hair hanging in my tormented face. Or smell my pajama top I haven’t taken off for longer than twenty minutes in the last three days.

Whatever the reason is, being sick is just one of those things that was more fun as a kid.

It’s always the little things we love, isn’t it?

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The Little Things

The curve of your hips,
The way your nostrils move when you’re upset and trying to tell me why but don’t know how,
How your eyes smile when you look at me,
And that little birthmark on top of your right shoulder you always try to hide even though it’s so sexy.

The ice-cold blue light in your eyes after waking up,
The softness of your skin between your shoulder blades,
And how you slide your hand in mine when you turn in bed in the middle of the night and realize we aren’t cuddling anymore.

The goosebumps you get when I kiss your neck,
The way you wink hello when you spot me in the crowd,
That one lock of hair that always falls in your eyes and never goes away when you try to blow it out of your face and how you roll your eyes and brush it away with your hand.

How your lower lip twitches when you tell a fib,
The taste of your tongue after a café mélange,
The warmth of your lips when they touch mine,
And that you always think for five minutes what flavor of ice cream you want and then pick mint chocolate chip every single time.

The short, high-pitched moan you make just before you come,
The way you hold me so firmly I can’t move yet kiss me so gently that I’m melting in your arms,
And how your voice trembles a little when you say “I love you.”

Your moves when you dance – so ridiculous but the most adorable,
The little wrinkles around your eyes and the dimple in your cheek when you smile,
The mixture of the scent of your skin, sweaty shirt, and cologne,
And how you bite into your fist when you see me in sexy lingerie.

The silky touch of your hair and the satisfied grin on your face when I run my fingers through it,
When you make me coffee in the morning and take a sip to see if it’s sweet enough and not too hot,
The wholeness I feel as you keep your hand on my knee while you’re driving,
And the dimple in your chin I always want to put my finger in.

The way you stick your tongue out when you try to score with a paper-pellet into a bin,
And how you fold your arms and frown like a ten-year-old when you miss it.

That one deep wrinkle that forms between your eyebrows when you are reading the ingredients on the cereal box,
Your gentle slight touch that starts on my back and ends on my bum when you pass me by,
The way you brush the hair out of my face and take my cheeks in your hands,
And when you look at me, bite into your lips, tilt your head, pause for a little, smile, and say, “I’m so lucky.”

That a shiver of excitement runs through your body when I caress you and you call it a love wave,
How you do things that needed both hands with one only just to not let go of mine,
And the way you swallow in awe when you’re watching me change into my pajamas.

When I stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and you wrap your arms around me from behind, pressing your lap against my bum and whisper in my ear,
And our conversations in the bathroom – you sitting in the tub, running hot water on your body, me sitting on the toilet with the lid down, watching you through the lifting thick steam.

That you pee like you were in a movie – resting one hand on the wall in front of you, “accidentally” flexing your triceps, keeping your other hand on your hip that you’re pressing forward to aim right, and making a face as if it would be the biggest accomplishment of your life. 

And when you kiss me goodbye and walk out the door but run back and kiss me again like it was our first time.

That you are

That we are. 

That you make me the person who I am.

And that you let me make you the person who you want to be.

I’m sure you had one of those days when nothing worked out. Me too.

The Morning I Hated My Life And The Moment I Started Loving It Again

It was my last day at work. I quit my new job after a week. You might think I’m crazy (and you’re probably right), but I had my reasons. And the daily commute in London was one of them. Unlike thousands of ambitious, hard-working dwellers of the vibrating metropolis, I couldn’t deal with it. It consumed me. Every minute I was forced to press my body parts against strangers added another layer to the rage building up in me. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded the extremely close human contact if I had only been surrounded by well-groomed, good-smelling, handsome guys. But how many of those you see in an average morning on a London train?

As I was walking to the station, I kept wondering whether I’d made the right decision. Knowing that I’d burned all the bridges and there was no turning back made me anxious. The crowd at the entrance of the station was massive. Everyone looked confused and stressed out, and that was before eight o’clock in the morning. I was already late (and therefore agitated) because my roommate sneaked into the bathroom before me, and I don’t want to know what she was doing in there, but I couldn’t get in for forty minutes to brush my teeth and pee.

I tried to push myself through the throng to see what was happening, and a couple of tskings and eye-rolls later, I learned that there was a signal failure (the second one within a week) and we wouldn’t be moving for at least half an hour. We were advised to look for alternative travel options. This was a thoughtful suggestion, except that the Internet didn’t work on my phone and I’d just moved to the area, so I had no clue where to go.

And I didn’t know how long it would take me to get to work on a different route.  I followed the crowd and so I found out that I could take the train. I headed down the stairs and when I saw my fellow commuters fighting for a spot on the platform, I couldn’t help but think what an amazing move it was to resign and how grateful I was for not having to participate in the rush hour nightmare from the very next morning on. That put a huge smile on my face until I had to get off and change to the subway.

Hundreds of people were lining up like sardines from the train platform through the exits to the stairs that led to the even more packed metro platform. We were moving in chicken steps and I could see how everyone was trying to keep it together, but you could almost cut the tension with a knife, and I kept thinking how badly I wanted to let out my frustration in one giant scream.

I bet I wasn’t the only one thinking of that, but we are so vexingly well-behaved all the time, so no one did anything. We all just swallowed our anger and exploded inside. Some were muttering under their breath, others were staring into space; I tried to distract myself by observing the people around me.

I got lucky on my left: a suave guy was inching along next to me, almost rubbing his broad shoulders to mine. Less fortunate on my right side where a poor five-foot girl was trying to save her larger than five-foot plant from people breaking its leaves. Eyeing up the hunk gave me more pleasure, so that’s how I kept my mind occupied for the next few minutes. As I was watching how his suit strained on his biceps and how perfect his jawline was, I realized I could have used that opportunity to get into a conversation with a cute stranger. But yeah, I’m a pussy and I don’t hit on guys in public. Funny enough (or sad?) that I caught him watching me out of the corner of his eyes. So maybe he liked me too and had been thinking the same. But that we’ll never know. A few minutes later, I lost him in the crowd and my excruciating journey became a lonely fight again.

When I finally reached my destination, the usual exit was closed and we were diverted to an alternative route. After following signs for minutes, I came above ground only to realize I had no idea where I was. So I followed the herd again, and after a huge detour because of an on-going construction, I finally recognized the place. What a successful start of the day!

Waiting at traffic lights, crossing roads, another construction.

A worker was trying to signal something to me with his hands, but I couldn’t make sense of it. In the next moment, I got a decent amount of water sprinkled on my head, so I guess, his gestures were trying to prepare me for that. By that time, I was so late that I thought I might as well have a tea and popped into the Starbucks around the corner.

Needless to say, the credit card reader was broken, which I was only informed about after I happily wrapped my hand around my hot spicy Chai. You know those coins you never have when you needed them to do your laundry? This is why. I scraped together all the pennies from my pockets, rolled my eyes at the poor barista, who squirmed and said sorry three times, which made me feel like an asshole (I did behave like one), so I apologized to her and dashed off.

In front of the building, I spilled the tea on my blazer, and it didn’t even catch me by surprise that my entry card didn’t work when I tried to swipe myself into the office. I’d only been awake for two and a half hours, but I already wanted the day to be over.

But then a sense of harmony overcame me as I realized that the next day was the beginning of a new era where I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this for a long, long time. Or hopefully ever again.

What are you dreaming of?

Fairy Tales

I’d like to have a horse. A brown, strong horse. I would brush his mane every day and bring him hay and feed him. I’d ride him but not so much that he gets tired, only so much that he can move his strong legs. I would learn how to jump with him. High barriers. And I would take him to races. And we would ride together and win all the prizes. And one day, I would bring him another horse. So he is not alone when I leave him in the stall. I would bring him a female horse. And then they would make a baby horse and we then had a whole horse family.

Coming home to my husband and my kids. Cooking a nice dinner, sitting around the table, asking everyone how their day was. Smiling if good things happened, shedding a tear if someone is sad. Sharing our lives and growing old together.

Christmas tree. There has to be a Christmas tree. With an exquisite finial on the top. Not the boring gold one. Blue glass. Or that new Asian fusion red I saw in the window the other day. I’d like that one. And baking. The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg in the air, the heat coming from the oven, my palms dusted with flour. And Christmas music in the background. Not the Jingle Bells again! “Last Christmas I gave you my heart, ta-da-da-da…” O Tannenbaum. Maybe I can still remember a few lines. And all the family together. Sitting around the tree, ripping off the wrapping paper of the presents.

I wanna be famous. I wanna be so famous that I need to think of hiding. And I want to be rich. Not just rich, filthy rich. So that I can have complete freedom. I want to be able to buy freedom. Because everything has its price, doesn’t it?

If only I had a cake shop. I would make cakes with extraordinary decoration. Hand-made lilies out of almond paste, chocolate crowns, and lemon meringue.

An online business that sells toys for adults.

Superpower.

Ryan Gosling. Without a shirt if I may ask. And without Eva Mendes, for God’s sake!

It’d be nice to be invisible. And watch you while you’re asleep. Tie people’s shoe laces to the leg of their chair and laugh at them when they fall over. Lie down next to them in bed when they’re making love. Watch a woman’s face from really close when she is crying.

Hollywood. I want to be part of Hollywood. I want to be an actor. I want to play on Broadway, I want to be in hit TV-shows, and I want roles in Indie films. And blockbusters, too. I want to show a thousand faces. I want the glamour and I want the hard work. I want the sensitivity, I want the rejection that I can be motivated to become better. I want to be vulnerable and I want to share my art. I want you to love me and I want to you to loathe me. I want to lift you up and bring you down. I want to balm your soul and disgust your gut. I want to make you cry and make you laugh so hard that you start to cry. I want to make you think. I want to make you feel deeper. I want to make you dig deeper and explore. Yourself. The world. The people in it. Us. Me. You.

I’d like to build a house. A big, old-fashioned house with a fireplace and tall, broad windows. Lots of light and vivid colors. A green leather sofa with a soft, white blanket on it, out of wool. And a large, heavy, oak desk. I can already smell it.

I just want to wake up one day and not have lung cancer.

I want to walk into a bookstore and spot someone giggle while reading my book.

I want Aladdin’s magic carpet to fly me wherever I want.

Love. A soul mate. Who kisses me awake and holds my hand while I’m drifting away in my dreams.

If I could just once say things as they are. The moment I want to say them. My thoughts. Without any filter or second-guessing. To anyone. And not feel bad or ashamed. Or defeated. Not fear the consequences and not wishing to take anything back.

Or can I just be the fairy that makes your dreams come true?

Babies vs personal freedom, what do you think?

To Be or Not To Be (a Parent)?

Babies are cute, aren’t they? I know. How about screaming babies? Do you find them cute? Or rather annoying?

Let’s just admit it – no one likes it when a baby weeps even if it’s the sweetest creature on Earth. But hey, that doesn’t make you a horrible person.

Screaming babies drive me nuts. And wherever I go, they always seem to find me. On planes, in grocery stores, parks, by the lake, and even in the laundromat. Can’t see what those parents were thinking, but I also saw a baby at a rock concert once. Maybe I’m too conservative, but really? They all smile at first, some of them even giggle, but it’s only a matter of time before they change their mood and the shrieking begins. And I don’t mean the sound of a whimpering cute little dumpling, I mean that screech that sounds like the poor thing was being tortured.

I grew up the same as ninety-nine percent of the female population: with the idea of having babies one day. I don’t know what caused my change of heart – my unpredictable lifestyle, seeing the struggle of my friends, or the lack of meeting potential father figures in the past few years – but I’ve become unsure if I want to be a mom, and these random episodes with wailing infants aren’t encouraging me to go back to the original “plans.” Or let’s say, fulfilling “traditional expectations.”

I was on vacation in Italy last year and spent one of my mornings in a beautiful but overcrowded and, for my taste, too touristy town. By lunch time, I was dying to have some peace and quietness. So, instead of going to a packed restaurant, I decided to buy a slice of pizza and take it to a bench by the lake. Sadly, so did a French family with their toddler. A cute little unbearable anger ball.

How loud do you think a baby can cry? I did some research, so let me give you a little guidance. The limit that a human ear can comfortably accommodate is around 90 dB. A jackhammer measures 105 dB – hence we can barely stand it – and the sound of a rock concert reaches 120 dB. But all this is a piece of cake compared to a baby’s cry, which can go up to 122 dB! Need I say more?

I have no idea what happened to that little French fellow, but he wailed like a banshee. And not only that, but he also threw himself on the ground (and I was trying so hard not to guess how many people spat or peed there before) and was kicking around, twisting his small body, and bawling his head off. Yet, his parents didn’t seem to care. Good for them! They looked so relaxed, it was almost irritating.

I get irked in such situations and the way I try to distract myself is by thinking how much worse this is for the parents. Only, in this case, this didn’t seem to apply. “Does this happen so often that they’ve become immune to the voice of their own child?” I wondered.

I’m clearly not ready for this journey, and lately, it occurred to me that I might never be. Is this strange?Unconventional? Does it bother my parents? Maybe. Is it acceptable? Is it my call? Definitely. I don’t think that everyone needs to have a baby or that raising a child is the ultimate purpose of a woman’s life. And I don’t think that just because someone doesn’t want any, she is a horrible and unhappy person, who will never have a fulfilling life.

What’s wrong with being different? Why do people raise their eyebrows when a woman openly admits that she is too selfish and irresponsible to be willing to take care of another human being? And why do some people think that judgmental comments or sympathetic looks would turn everything around?

I might or might not change my mind in the future, I don’t know. But the one thing I’m sure about is that I don’t need a baby to feel that I have a purpose in life. But who knows, a friend of mine says that it’s not up to me. It’s the hormones. He said that no matter how I feel now, I would wake up one day with an unbearable urge to push a baby out of my vagina. If we put it this way, I wouldn’t make a bet on that.

I don’t want to give you the false impression, though. I like babies. And they like me. Even the grumpiest ones grin when I hold them. (Maybe they do that just because they’re pooping in my arms and they know it.) But there is something beautiful in the moment when I can hand them back to their parents.

I adore moms. My mom, who’s been one for over thirty years; my girlfriends, who’ve been trying their hands at this new challenge and doing so wonderfully well. I admire you all; I’m just not sure if I want to join you in the fun.

Would you rather read know my truth about online dating?

Looking for Prince Charming

“Not tall enough. Too tall. Sandals? Oh boy! Cuddling with a kitten? Not manly enough. He doesn’t like cats? He has no heart. Posing in the mirror in underwear? What a self-obsessed moron! Doesn’t do any sport. Can’t relate to that.”

I’m not a judgmental person in real life. How can I be the exact opposite when it comes to filtering online dating profiles?

“Baseball cap with a straight stiff bill – are you 50 Cent, or what? I want hair. More on the head, less on the body, please. I’m not sure if I want kids or not, but he says he doesn’t want any? No. No-no-no. He HAS to be wanting kids. Eventually. Too old. Too young. Old enough but looks too young. Unattractive. Way too attractive.

Looks totally different in all his pictures, which one is the reality? Is that your ex-girlfriend next to you in that photo? Cute, but really? Argh… another photo with his car… and a half-naked picture. OK, let’s not be so harsh on him. There’s nothing wrong about being proud of his body or car, he certainly has worked hard for both. Oh, that’s not your niece but your daughter? How adorable! Or not.

Come on, girl, give a chance to this guy, he’s just a couple of inches shorter; you hate high heels anyway. Looking for a “relatively” intelligent woman? What does that even mean?

Looks like my ex-boyfriend. Doesn’t look anything like my ex-boyfriend.”

No matter what, he is just not right. I’m going to die alone.

Online dating is a weird mess. It’s this “thing” that nobody really believes in, but everybody tries (only once, of course) and gets hooked on because we all like compliments, even if they come from complete strangers or people we would never even notice in real life. And you also hear these stories how your friends’ friends met online and got married. So, how dare you not give it a chance, right?

For me, it all started with a research I was doing for a screenplay I’m working on. (See how we even lie about it?) And also out of boredom. I like meeting new people, and the Internet offers the opportunity to get to know thousands of interesting strangers from all walks of life on a silver platter. I went on a couple of dates, and even though I never got into anything serious, I almost always had a good time (or at least, an experience that makes a good story) and made some new friends.

(By the way, the research part is true. I’m writing a screenplay about a liberal, free-spirited grandma and wanted to see what’s out there for people at this age. Too bad, you can’t sneak around on the page without people knowing that you visited their profiles. Imagine how surprised – or flattered – the eighty-year-old grandpas were when they saw that I checked them out.)

One time, I went on a date with a guy in London. He took me to a really nice bar I’ve never been to. He was kind but also funny and laid-back; we got along really well, and I could almost see us as a couple already. Until we sat down and he moved closer to me. His breath stank like sewage, rotten eggs, and garlic all at once. And that was it. I couldn’t deal with it. We spent hours together (me keeping a safe distance from his mouth); laughed and talked, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I didn’t want to kiss him. End of story.

There was a positive outcome, though. A week after this less than ideal rendezvous, I took a girlfriend of mine to the exact same bar to celebrate her promotion. While I was waiting for our drinks, a guy with a cute smile approached me and we hit it off right away. (After I ran a quick, secret smell-check on his breath, of course.) We spent the whole night talking and walking around the city and had our first real date the very next day, and it was one of the best first dates I’ve ever been to.

Have you read my story about the LA creep?

LA – The City of Angels or Creeps?

I’m in Los Angeles right now and am staying in Venice, which is the part of town where skateboarders, artists, fortune-tellers, and hippies like to hang out. As I was strolling down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, trying to avoid eye contact with the dozens of homeless people and hipsters, memories rushed through my brain. There was one I recalled particularly detailed. One that burned itself into my mind forever, one that I don’t like remembering.

It happened a few years ago when I first visited the City of Angels. I found myself in a disturbing situation, but thanks to my intuition, I got out of it. You might not believe in “sixth sense,” but I’m sure you all know what it’s like to encounter someone that gives you the feeling that something is “off” and you just want to get away from that person. The one that makes you uncomfortable purely by his presence.

I didn’t know the city at all that time, and just like in every place I ever visited, I was going to use public transportation to get around. My American friends thought I’d lost my mind when I told them about this plan. They weren’t even sure if a public transportation system existed in LA. Americans drive here, but there are many subway and bus lines all over the city and they are safe to use. Except when they are not.

I stayed in a hostel in a somewhat dodgy neighborhood and the nearest subway station was a fifteen-minute drive away. Thanks to the generosity of the staff, this wasn’t an issue as they offered a free lift from the station whenever you needed. You just had to call them and wait for the pick-up. I must say, though, you didn’t want to hang around by yourself too long in that neighborhood. It was right next to a highway and there was nothing around. No shops, no bars, no restaurants, no public phones, no gas stations, and no people. And not much street lighting.

I took the subway from Downtown LA. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train, and minding my own business when I saw a creepy guy hovering around and glancing at me from time to time. He shuffled closer and closer, and his occasional looks became constant stares, which made me nervous. I couldn’t tell why, but I didn’t like the guy. He was giving off this unsettling vibe, and somehow I knew he was going to try to talk to me and was already thinking of ways of how to get out of an unwanted conversation. Surprise, surprise, a moment later, he stood right next to me and asked me where I was heading to. My inner alarm went off, but I didn’t want to seem nervous, so I told him I was going south. (Which he already knew based on the side of platform I was standing on.)

The train came and we both got on. I sat down sideways, facing the window to minimize the chance of having to look at him, but this didn’t make it more difficult for him. He moved to the closest seat that was looking into my direction and started staring at me. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his gaze on me. He wasn’t looking away for a second. After a few minutes, I felt so uneasy that I had to move.

I didn’t want to be too conspicuous, so I lingered around for a while and pretended that I preferred standing, but then moved over to a seat farther away from him. I could still see him, which meant that he could see me too, and I felt his eyes on me again.

By then, I was sure that he was up to something. Something that couldn’t be good. I could feel it. I started to panic. I knew that he was going to get off at the same stop as me, and I didn’t even want to imagine what could happen once we were alone in that godforsaken neighborhood. I didn’t know what to do, but it was indubitable that I couldn’t let him get off at the same station because my inner alarm was screaming inside me. I felt sick.

We were only two stops away from my destination, so I needed to come up with something rather quickly. As the train was slowing down to approach the next station, I jumped up and made my way to the door. I kept an eye on the guy, who raised from his seat, too, and moved to the door closest to him while still staring at me.

The train stopped and the doors opened. I hopped off and stayed so close to the metro car that my left shoulder was rubbing onto the dirty metal surface. Other passengers were moaning because I was in their way, but I didn’t care.

The moment I heard the “Stand clear of the closing doors, please!” announcement, I jumped back on, clutching onto my backpack, which almost got smashed by the closing doors. My heart was pounding like it wanted to burst out of my chest. I was trying to calm down and looked through the door window. The guy stood right in front of me, staring into my face. His eyes flared, incandescent with rage, and I breathed a sigh of relief as we were moving along and his face was fading away into the distance.

Fancy another creepy story?