Rucksack, guitar case, his feet as he steps onto the Airport Express. He was supposed to turn as he got onto the train, and I was supposed to be standing there, on the platform, carrying my case, out of breath and happy. I was supposed to arrive just in time. I still can. If only I get out now. At the back entrance of the Social Sciences block, where the bikes are kept. I remember how he startled me, how I stopped in my tracks. He was just the new boy working in the canteen back then. He was wearing faded jeans and a short white jacket; he held his left arm tightly across his chest and tucked under his right armpit as he smoked, one knee bent, a foot wedged up against the red-brick wall.
Or had I?
It all seems so long ago now. Come with me, he said, and you can borrow a towel. He dropped his cigarette butt into the red bucket, exhaled from the corner of his mouth and held the door open for me. He smiled again and walked towards the canteen, leaving me standing in the entrance hall next to the information desk. I watched him disappear through the swing doors where they take the dirty dishes on trolleys.
My glasses were covered with rain. I took them off, thinking I should find some tissue to dry them with. My clothes were drenched. I was sweating, and my skirt was dripping and clinging to my legs.
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Everything had gone wrong. It must have fallen off. There had been a light drizzle as I set off from home; by the time I arrived it was pelting down. In just three minutes the lecture would start.
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Everything was going wrong. But I had to cycle back and look. The lock was lying next to the Portakabins outside the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation building, a blue-plastic-covered chain. I got off and picked it up, hung it over the handlebar, turned and pushed my bike all the way back — uphill — crying the whole way. I had to lock it in a different place from usual.
As I stood there in the entrance hall, I was still crying — or the tears were flowing at least. It must be physiological, I thought, as if I had a plastic bag in my chest filled with water. I felt a stabbing pain in my left eyebrow.
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I was going to be late for my lecture. At the same time, I wanted to follow the canteen man, to be wherever he was. Yes, that was what I wanted. That was the truth. Already then. I walked towards the glass partition that marks the start of the canteen. Perhaps I should go and look for him, tell him I had to go. Then again, he might be standing in there laughing at me. He reappeared through the swing doors and walked calmly towards me, holding a clean white kitchen towel, neatly folded, in his outstretched hand.
Here, he said. I smiled and thanked him, and he asked if I wanted a coffee. I ought to go to my lecture. I glanced at my watch. Yes, at least that. I looked at him. My whole forehead was throbbing. Come back with the towel later then. Yes, I said, thanks. He smiled, broadly, as though amused by something. I went down the wide spiral staircase to the toilets, taking three steps at a time. Luckily nobody was there. I stood in front of the big mirror and had to smile. My red hair was sticking out in a clump on either side of my face, my gold hairclip had slipped at an angle, making my hair bulge on top, and my mascara had left dark tracks under my eyes.
I wiped my face with the towel energetically, blew my nose, dried my eyes — I had finally stopped crying — polished my glasses, ran back up the stairs and hurried to Auditorium 7. I opened the door carefully, sat at the very back and took a notepad out of my bag. The top corners were damp. I looked down on the lecturer. He seemed so small, whizzing about, drawing jagged lines on the board next to the overhead projector. There was something aggressive about him: no doubt he was irritated by people coming in late, causing a disturbance — he was in the middle of explaining cognitive dissonance and attribution theory.
You can see the competitiveness among some of the boys. The resolute gaze, the arm covering their notes. As I wrote, it all started to make sense, travelling through my hand and into my body, and the calm concentration, the logical lines, put me in a state of suspension.
And yet that face. Taking form and then evaporating. Taking form and disappearing. Like a pulse — the canteen man, his smile, his eyes — an image lodged in my bloodstream so that each time it pumped past my eyes, it became visible again. I smiled. Stop it, Johanne. I shook my head to make it go away. It was almost a need. After the break the auditorium began to fill up again, footsteps and voices in the air like dust settling all around.
Resuming its place, like sunshine and warmth after a storm. The lecture could begin once more, like a symphony.
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I must have felt finely tuned, infinitely joyous and light. Alistair Ryder. There are no featured audience reviews for Sequin in a Blue Room at this time. Top Box Office. More Top Movies Trailers. Certified Fresh Picks. Castle Rock: Season 2. Fear the Walking Dead: Season 5. Into The Dark: Season 1. Robot: Season 4.
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