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Closed Eyes

by

Sophie Green

(based on her short film of the same name)

It was early. That was the only thing Sam knew as he woke up. But as he slowly became fully awake he remembered why he was being woken up at this early hour. It was only 8 a.m., but that was early for him. Since becoming a student he didnít want to get up early unless he had to. Today he had a 9 a.m. lecture, and so there was no choice for it. He had to get up now, or miss the lecture.

He didnít really find lectures that useful, he relied on books for most of his information. Lectures to him just served as providing a starting point, but he didnít find them essential. However, he never once missed a lecture. Being conscientious as he was, he felt that he had to attend the lectures, whether he wanted to or not, just in case something useful was said.

But today he didnít feel like going. They hadnít had any lectures for a week, due to there being a reading week. During this week they had been expected to do reading for the course, although Sam had done very little. There were other things on his mind.

Two weeks earlier, on the Monday of the week before the reading week, there had been a day where he had been building himself up. His timetable on Mondayís were usually quite packed, but he always knew someone in each lecture and seminar he was in, which wasnít really surprising considering that there were only about 30 people on his course.

He always sat with the same group of people, John, Peter, Amy and Fiona. He saw them occasionally outside of lectures, but not all that often. But on that Monday, as far as one member of the group was concerned, he was hoping for that to change.

Ever since the start of the year he had been growing rather fond of Amy. She was friendly and they got on well. And she was also very pretty, not to mention talented. She had dreams of becoming an actress, something Sam felt she was very good at.

Sam hadnít had much luck with girls back in high school. He rarely found the courage to go up and say anything to them, and when he did they pretty much just laughed in his face. He was determined that at Uni all that would change.

On that Monday, he was building himself up to ask Amy out.

Exactly when he was going to do that, on that fateful day two weeks ago, he didnít know. During the 9 a.m. lecture he just didnít have the courage to. Plus the fact that it was early and he was therefore tired didnít help.

The next lecture was at 11 a.m. He sat next to Amy during it, and was determined to ask her out at the end of it. But when the end came she had to rush off, and he didnít get the chance.

That was at midday, and he had a two-hour break until their next lecture. He had a lot of work to do, and so he decided to spend those two hours in the library. But as he tried to study his mind was doing somersaults. Everything came back to the same thought. Today was going to be the day that he asked Amy out, and nothing was going to stop him.

He arrived at the 2 p.m. lecture, fully prepared to ask Amy out.

But there was no sign of her. For whatever reason, she had skipped the lecture.

During the 2-hour lecture he paid no attention to what was being said. He was thinking only of Amy. At the end he left quickly.

He had another hourís break. He couldnít get Amy out of his head, and so he forgot about all the work that he had to do. He wandered about the campus, looking for her. He looked everywhere that he could think of, but he couldnít find her.

The last thing he had that day was a 5 p.m. seminar. Whilst most people didnít like having a seminar late in the afternoon, Sam didnít mind with this seminar, as he was in the same group as Amy. John, Peter and Fiona werenít in their group, and so he always got to sit with Amy and talk to her.

This time she did turn up. His heart rose as he saw her. "Amy, hi!" he said (a little too excitedly, he thought) as she came and sat next to him.

"Hi Sam." She smiled at him and her eyes lit up. He always liked that about her.

"So, er, you werenít in the lecture earlier. How come?"

"I was on the phone getting some very good news."

"Oh, right, what was it?"

"Iíve got an audition next week!"

"Thatís great! Whatís it for?"

"Oh, just some kids TV show about witches. But that doesnít really matter, I just hope that I get the part!"

"Well, Iím sure you will, you deserve it." Sam smiled at her.

"Thanks."

Then the lecturer started the seminar. Sam didnít contribute anything to it, as he had other things on his mind.

After the seminar, outside of the room, Amy looked like she was going to run off again like last time. But Sam wasnít going to let her, because today was the day that he was going to ask her out. And now was the time.

As she was about to walk off, Sam grabbed her arm, but not too forcefully. "Er, Amy..."

"Yes?"

"Thereís something that I want to ask you..."

"Well, be quick, Iím supposed to be meeting Fiona in the bar."

"Erm, OK. Iíll just get straight to the point." He had run this moment through in his mind so many times, but that hadnít made this any easier. "Amy... er..."

"What...?"

"Well, you see, I was wondering if... if..." By this point Sam was shaking, and his heart rate had increased tremendously. This was the moment, the moment he had been building himself up to for so long now. He had gone pass the point of no return. It was now or never.

He took a deep breath, and then he said it, "Amy, would you like to go out with me sometime?"

There was a pause. Amy looked down at the floor. Then she said, "Sam, youíre a nice guy and everything, but..." She was saying no. Like every other girl before her, she was saying no.

"But no, is what youíre trying to say."

"Yeah... Iím sorry. Itís just that, you know, it just... wouldnít work between us. Iím sorry." Now Sam was looking at the floor. "Look, Iíve really got to go, Fiona will be wondering where I am. Iíll see you soon, OK?"

"OK..."

And with that, she left.

Sam was heartbroken, and just wanted to be alone. So that evening he stayed in his room by himself.

For the rest of the week he kept on going through in his mind what had happened. He got to his classes just on time, and left quickly afterwards so that he could return to his thoughts.

There was a forest near the campus which had an aura of peace about it, and so he spent a lot of his time there thinking. He ran through the events of the day when he asked Amy out over and over again, wondering if he could have done anything differently, anything that would have made her say yes. But he failed to find an answer.

By Saturday, after going round in circles in his mind, he decided that he had to try and somehow get over it. But first he wanted to speak to his other friends.

He went over to Johnís flat and knocked on the door. It was answered by one of his flatmates, a pretty foreign girl whose name Sam could never remember.

"Hello?" she said.

"Hi, is John there?"

"No, heís gone to Cardiff with his friends for the day."

"Cardiff?" Sam couldnít quite believe this. Had John and the others gone to Cardiff and not told him?

"Yes. They said theyíll be back this evening."

"Who else went with him?"

"Oh, er, Peter, Fiona, and that other girl."

"Amy?"

"Yes, thatís her name."

Sam thanked the girl, and left. He couldnít believe this. They had all gone to Cardiff, but they hadnít invited him along.

Sam was upset. They knew that heíd wanted to go to Cardiff at some point. He was fascinated by the castle there and had always wanted to visit it. But they just seemed to have forgotten about him.

He didnít see them the next day, but he saw John in the library on the Monday at the start of the reading week. John tried to explain that they had tried to ask him along but they couldnít find him. Yeah right, Sam thought, You obviously didnít bother looking very hard. We are in the same lectures after all. He didnít believe him for a minute. He was convinced that they were fed up of him hanging around them all the time. Amy had probably told them all about his asking her out and they had all probably had a good laugh about it in Cardiff.

On the Wednesday, Peter had come round to his flat to pay him a visit. Although Sam had welcomed him in, he didnít tell him what he really wanted to say. By this point he was thoroughly fed up with the lot of them.

After Peter had apologised for not asking Sam along to Cardiff (giving him the same story that John had), he then told Sam some news that heíd rather not have heard.

John and Amy were now going out with each other.

This filled Sam up with fury. Thatís why John hadnít wanted him with them in Cardiff. He didnít want him hanging around Amy, probably afraid that he might try something, afraid that he wouldnít have taken Amyís "no" for an answer. How long had all of this been going on for? Had they secretly been seeing each other before now?

Peter didnít stay for long after he had informed Sam of this. The only other thing Peter told Sam was about Amyís audition, it was to be this weekend in London.

Sam had been upset and depressed before Peterís visit, but now he felt even worse.

Sam didnít go out much during that week, but there were times when he had no choice, such as when he had to go to the library, or when he needed to buy some more food. It was on one such trip to the supermarket on the Thursday that he happened to see Amy. She was also doing her shopping. She had definitely seen Sam, but she pretended that she hadnít. She was deliberately ignoring him.

And it was this that upset Sam the most. He was convinced that she never intended to speak to him again. All of the building up he had gone through before asking her out had just resulted in him losing her as a friend, and everyone else laughing at him behind his back.

And now, here he was, 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. Theyíll all be in the lecture in an hourís time, and Amy would have had her audition. When Sam had first heard about it he genuinely hoped that she would do well. Now he was hoping for completely the opposite.

Seeing them all was the last thing that he wanted to do right now. But, as he wanted to find out how Amyís audition had gone, he decided to arrive at the lecture earlier than usual, and face them. If her audition had gone badly then at least he could take some comfort in that.

As he waited outside the room John and Peter arrived together. Hmmm, thought Sam, No sign of Amy. Maybe she isnít back yet?

After the customary greetings (which Sam once again had to force), John said, "Sam, weíre glad we caught you today! Weíve been thinking about planning a trip abroad during the summer. Is there any chance that youíd be interested in coming with us?"

A trip abroad during the summer? What was going on here? Sam was very unsure about this, but he went along with what they were saying. "Oh right," he said, "where were you thinking of going to?"

"Wherever we can afford. We were thinking possibly about Greece."

"Iím not sure..." This didnít sound right to Sam. Something was definitely up.

Peter then said, "Thereís no rush to decide, weíve got ages until we have to book it. You think about it for a while."

"OK, I will..." That he certainly would do.

Just as he was wondering why on Earth they were inviting him along to Greece, he could see Amy approaching. Oh, so she is back. OK, this is what weíve been waiting for. Letís see how bad her audition went.

She was smiling.

Of course, it wouldnít have gone bad for her, would it? Nothing ever goes bad for her!

"Hey, Amy," said John, as he embraced her, "When did you get back?"

"A couple of hours ago. I would have been back sooner if the train had been on time."

"So, howíd it go?"

"Oh, it went great!"

Of course it went great. Everything went great for her. She may not give a toss about anyone else, but, hey, at least everything went great for her!

Sam didnít pay much attention to the others during the lecture, and afterwards he rushed straight back to his place. He couldnít stand to be around them. Especially Amy, who was acting particularly cold towards him.

He tried to do some work and forget about them, but he just couldnít. Why had they invited him to Greece? And why was Amy being so cold and heartless towards him?

He decided that he needed to get some air, that he needed to think about things, and so he went to the forest.

As he walked towards the forest he convinced himself that they all hated him. They had only invited him to Greece out of pity, or perhaps out of guilt after not having invited him on the Cardiff trip. And every time his mind turned to Amy, his heart filled with rage.

He was so caught up in his thoughts that, as he crossed a road to get to the forest, he nearly got himself run over. Would it have been so bad if I had? Of that he wasnít sure.

He soon arrived at the forest, where he took a long, slow, deep breath. The air was good here. And it was so quiet, all he could hear were the birds, and a faint breeze in the trees.

He decided to forget about John, Peter, Fiona and Amy for a while. Here, he felt at peace.

But they wouldnít stay out of his mind for long. He tried to keep them out by focussing on the sounds of the forest. He concentrated on the breeze. But as he did so Amy flashed up in his mind, and, once more, he filled up with anger.

He could still hear the breeze. It was now becoming stronger, a lot stronger. Branches were now starting to shake violently.

He looked ahead, and couldnít quite believe what he saw. Something was appearing. Something was appearing out of thin air...

He stared intently at it. At first, it just looked black, but then a shape started to form, the shape of a figure, a figure that was dressed in black.

Once the figure had fully materialised, the breeze died down, back to what it had been before. The figure was male, with ghostly white skin that was covered in strange black markings. He was wearing a black cape with a hood.

He was looking at Sam and smiling in a warm, friendly manner. For some reason that Sam couldnít explain, he was being drawn to the figure.

As he approached, the figure spoke, "Youíre lost, arenít you?" He had a very soft, very comforting voice. "Youíve been hurt." Sam was now standing right in front of the figure, who appeared to be gazing deep into his eyes. Sam felt that he was gazing even deeper than that. "Yes, youíve been hurt many times in your past." His words were now starting to sound like a dream.

Sam felt like he was about to fall asleep, but he forced himself to stay awake. Drearily, he said, "W...who are you?"

"Just a friend."

"What...?"

"Itís alright. Iím not going to hurt you." The figure placed a hand on Samís shoulder. He could feel warmth coming from it. Somehow that warmth seemed to comfort Sam. It also seemed to bring him out of the almost trance state that he was in. "I am a friend, and I wish to help you."

Everything now began to feel a little normal. Sam still felt odd, but he wasnít afraid. "Help me?" he said, "How?"

The figure took his hand off of Samís shoulder and began to turn away. As he walked down the path he said "Come on, thereís something that I wish to show you..."

Sam didnít have a clue as to what was happening, but he felt that he had to follow this figure, that he had to see what he had to show him. He couldnít explain why, he just felt that he had to, and so he slowly followed behind the figure.

Sam followed him for a few hundred metres, when they entered a clearing. There the figure halted, turned round to face Sam, and held up his hand in a "how" gesture.

Sam stopped and looked at the figure for a moment. This is so strange, and yet it feels normal. Whatís going on? Sam said, "Well, what is it that you want to show me?"

The figure then gestured to an area to their right. There, to Samís amazement, John, Peter, Amy and Fiona were sitting on some benches chatting to each other. He ran up to them and said, "Hey guys!" They didnít give him any sort of response. "Hey!" he said again, but they still ignored him. It was as though he wasnít there.

"Itís no use," said the figure, "they can not see you." Sam, who was now more confused than ever, turned round to face the figure. "They are merely illusions, projections from the past."

"I... I donít understand..." None of this was making sense.

"Just watch them." Sam was too confused to argue, and so did as the figure asked.

The group were talking about going to Cardiff. John said, "Itís only one coach and it costs less than a fiver for a return ticket."

"Good," said Fiona, "I hate having to change buses."

Sam realised that he was somehow watching a conversation that they had had some time ago, before they went to Cardiff and left him behind.

As soon as he had realised what it was they were talking about Peter said, "Hey, does anyone know where Sam is?" Why would he care where I am?

As if she read his mind, Amy said, "No, why?"

"Well, itís not fair to leave him out. He really wants to go to Cardiff and see the castle there."

John then spoke to Amy, "Look, I know things between you and Sam are hard at the moment, but youíre going to have to face him again sooner or later." So she had told everyone about my asking her out.

Fiona then joined in saying, "Come on Amy, the guy only asked you out. Youíve said no, and heís accepted that. Come on, give him a break." Yeah...

There was a brief moment of silence. Amy looked at the ground, before saying, "OK."

"Alright then," said John, "I have a class with him tomorrow so Iíll ask him then." But he never did ask me...

Suddenly the figure said, "But he didnít forget about you either."

Sam looked at the figure, not understanding what he meant. He then looked back at the group, but they had somehow vanished. He turned back to the figure, who was starting to walk off. "Hey!" Sam called out, but he just ignored him. Sam decided that the best thing to do was to follow him.

As he caught up with the figure Sam was thinking about the last thing John had said. Why hadnít he invited him on the Cardiff trip when he said he would? Then Sam realised why. John wanted to ask Amy out, and so he didnít want him around. He obviously must have conveniently forgotten to ask him along on the trip.

Once Sam had worked this out he nearly bumped into the figure, who had stopped suddenly. Without looking at him the figure said, "John did intend to invite you."

"Did he really!"

"Yes, he did."

Sam then looked along the path, where he saw John and Peter talking to each other. Another vision...? He walked up to them, and he was right.

"So," said Peter, "did you ask Sam about coming to Cardiff?"

"No, I didnít get the chance. He got to the lecture late, and he didnít sit near me, he went and sat right at the back for some reason."

"What about after the lecture?"

"I couldnít find him then, he must have rushed off somewhere."

"Oh well, weíll probably see him before Saturday."

Suddenly, John and Peter disappeared, and the figure said, "But they didnít see you again. You werenít exactly an easy person to find, you were spending most of your time in this forest."

Sam looked down, he knew that the figure was right. He asked himself if John really would have asked him along if he hadnít avoided him in that lecture. In his heart, he knew he would have.

The figure started walking along the path again. "Come on," he said. After a brief moment, Sam followed him.

As Sam followed the figure he thought for a bit. Fair enough, John would have invited him on the trip given the chance, but what about Amyís behaviour towards him? Sheís being cold to me for no good reason.

Once Sam had caught up with the figure he said, "OK, so maybe it wasnít their fault that I didnít get invited along on the Cardiff trip." But they can still be inconsiderate! What about Amy?

"And what about the girl that you asked out...?"

"Amy, well, she hasnít exactly treated me fairly..."

"And how has she treated you?"

"Well, ever since I asked her out sheís completely ignored me. Itís as though I donít exist!"

"Can you think why sheís been ignoring you?"

Sam thought for a moment and then said, "She just doesnít care about how I feel."

The figure looked at him thoughtfully and said, "Have you considered seeing it from her point of view?"

Her point of view? Whatís there to see from her point of view? Sheís stopped talking to me just because I asked her out, and now she hates me for it.

The figure stopped walking by a bench. Sitting on it were Amy and Fiona, and they were talking about Sam.

"Amy, itís so obvious that Sam likes you!" Fiona sounded upbeat and chirpy.

"What? Oh, yeah..." Whereas Amy sounded down.

"Surely youíve seen the way he looks at you?"

Amy just nodded her head.

"Amy, is there something youíre not telling me?"

"What?"

"There is, isnít there? Come on, spill!"

Amy took a deep breath, and then said, "Sam asked me out earlier today."

Fiona laughed when she heard this. The memory of asking Amy out surfaced in Samís mind, and filled him with anger, and hurt.

"What did you tell him?" asked Fiona.

"I told him no. I mean, me and him, it would never work."

"Oh come on, you donít know that."

"Yes I do, think about it. Iím always going off for auditions, like the one Iíve got next week. If I get the part Iíll be spending most of the summer in London filming. He lives in the back end of nowhere and he hates the city." Sam realised that she had a point. "Plus thereís the fact that I always want to go out at night whereas heíd normally like to stay in." Another good point. "No, it just wouldnít work between us."

Part of Sam found himself agreeing with Amy, a part of him that knew they werenít suited to each other.

"But," said Fiona, "he still has some good points."

"Like...?"

Yeah, like...?

"Well, youíve got to admit that heíd treat you right. Heís got a lot of respect for women, and for people in general. He wouldnít hurt anyone. Plus... heís also really... sweet..."

"Sweet?!"

Sweet... Even though they were only illusions, Sam felt himself smiling, and perhaps even blushing a little.

"Well, yeah. Heís not like most other guys who only seem to be interested in one thing. Heís... more of a romantic."

"Fiona, I think you have a thing for Sam!"

Fiona... ... ...?

"Shut up! I donít! And, anyway, itís you he likes."

With that, the girls started giggling, and then disappeared.

Sam turned round to face the figure, but before he could say anything he had already started walking off.

As Sam caught up with him, the figure said, "The problem is that you try to work it into your head that people have something against you, when they donít. You need to take a step back and try and consider other alternatives. You need to try and see things from other peopleís point of view."

Sam nodded. He knew that the figure was right.

They had come around in a circle, and were now back where they had first met. The figure stopped walking and said, "Well, itís time for us to part now."

"Can I just ask you one thing? Who exactly are you?"

"Iím just someone who helps people, to guide them in times of need." They stood opposite each other, looking into each otherís eyes for a moment, before the figure said, "I have to go now. Thereís a girl who needs my help in deciding what to do about a guy that she likes. Good luck Sam, Iím sure everything will work out for you." The figure slowly started to fade away. Just before he vanished completely he said, "And remember Sam, donít close your eyes to the truth." And with that, the figure was gone.

Sam slowly walked back to the campus. As he did so he thought about the things he had seen in the forest.

I was wrong about John, and Peter, and Fiona and Amy. They donít hate me. I guess I knew it all along, I just refused to admit it.

He felt he had now opened his eyes, and that perhaps things would work out better from now on. And, when he thought about what Fiona had said about him, perhaps his love life wasnít a lost cause just yet...

As he arrived back on campus he saw John, Peter, Amy and Fiona chatting together, and he remembered what John and Peter had asked him earlier. A trip to Greece, could be fun.

The End

Copyright © Sophie Green, 2001, 2002, 2003

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