No one knew how Ebby spent her days and no one asked. Everyone probably assumed that she was like everyone else, working a 9 to 5 job and coming to the bar afterward to unwind and forget the daily grind.
Nate noticed how she positioned herself in the bar. She always had her back to the wall, which Nate thought was either subliminal instinct or an intentionally protective act. Or possibly it was because every time the door opened, she glanced toward it, studying the face of who was walking through as if searching for a certain someone.
Ebby became an almost quiet obsession for Nate. He treasured and respected their friendship and even though he was silently aching to take it to another level, he knew it would never be possible.
Nate too, began to wonder what filled her days. He wondered about her life outside the bar. He wondered if she worked and where. He wondered where she lived. Against his better judgment, he decided to follow her home one night.
She hailed a taxi and Nate was surprised to find that she lived only two blocks away in an old warehouse that had been converted into luxury condos.
He wondered if she had taken a taxi because she didn’t want to drive after she had been drinking. Maybe she didn’t have a car. Many people who lived in the city didn’t have cars, due to the lack of parking spaces and congestion on the roads so it was nothing unusual.
The next day he drove by and ironically, saw her once again, getting into a taxi. He quickly turned the corner and parked on the side of the road. As the taxi drove out of the condo, Nate suddenly became a clandestine stalker but justified his actions as nothing more than curiosity.
He was shocked when the taxi drove to a local cemetery. The unkempt graveyard was off to the side of a century old church and was nestled inside a circular grove of huge oak trees. There was but one car parked at the church. The taxi discreetly dropped her at the entrance where she could not be seen.
As she got out, she looked around as if hoping for invisibility. Slowly walking toward the cemetery, she seemed to take cover behind the huge trunks of the trees.
Nate suddenly felt as if he was invading her privacy and decided to leave. Perhaps she was there to mourn over the grave of a loved one. Knowing nothing of her past, he was left to only speculate and possibly mourn a little with her. Whatever the reason she was there, he felt ashamed that he was there.
Several times while they were at the bar, he considered asking her how she spent her days but she had made it clear that her life was her own and he didn’t want to show even the slightest micro-expression that would give him away as to what he had seen.
She surprised him one night, when she invited him to her place and offered to cook dinner. Pretending innocence, he asked for her address. When he arrived, she greeted him with a warm smile and a glass of wine.
As he looked around, the absence of anything personal caught his eye. There were no pictures other than a few reproductions of famous oil paintings on the wall, which struck him as not at all being what he would have expected.
While she was in the kitchen, he walked in and simply spoke her name. She violently jerked around and cowered in the corner. She screamed “don’t you ever touch me again!”
Nate was dumbfounded and in as non-threatening a voice as he could, said “I didn’t touch you.”
She clumsily tried to recover by saying “I meant scare me.” Nate could see that she was trembling as she managed to get to her feet. He started to walk toward her but she held up her hand as if to say “stop.”
The rest of the evening was a bit unsettled. After dinner, Nate finally broke protocol by asking her why she had reacted the way she had. She tried to downplay the incident by saying “I just don’t like for people to sneak up behind me, that’s all.” He said “is that why you always sit with your back to the wall in the bar?”
She had an icy cold stare when she said “I think you need to leave now.” When he asked her why, she said “you just need to leave now.”
As he was driving away, he couldn’t help but wonder why she had that reaction. He had seen fear many times but what he saw in her face was absolute terror.