Day 7 of NaNoWriMo: using freewrite prompt "dread locks" as a starting point for Chapter 7

Hello, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I guess it should be called InaNoWriMo as it is now International!) The idea is to write a novel length story (at least 50000 words) in one month (so at least 1667 words a day for 30 days). Last year I took part and “won” (ie I wrote over 50k in a month). This year I am going to give it another go.

As I did last year I will use @MarianneWest’s daily freewrite prompt as a starting point (so each day I will use themostdangerouswritingapp.com and write for 5 minutes with @mariannewest’s prompt in mind. I will then write another 1500 odd words and publish it on the blockchain so you can see what crap I come up with!

Today is 7rd November 2019 and I am using yesterday’s prompt to write the seventh chapter of my story
(https://steemit.com/freewrite/@mariannewest/day-747-5-minute-freewrite-wednesday-prompt-dread-locks)

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Today’s prompt is:

dread locks

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If you are interested you can find the previous Chapters here One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Matt took a seat two rows behind Jenny. He pulled the band from his hair and retied the ponytail.

His hair was getting on his nerves. It was too thin and fragile, kept blowing everywhere. It was probably about time to try dreadlocks. He had been thinking about it for a while now.

He opened his bag and pulled out his phone, checking if for messages before turning the ringer to silent.

He removed his book - a novel he had been struggling to read for a number of weeks now, but was reluctant to put aside and try something else.

He watched the back of Jenny's head. She was talking to someone on her mobile.

Was it Sydney?

Her voice was low, too low to hear what she was saying, and he regretted not sitting directly behind her.

But he didn't want to alarm her. It had been a dangerous move, as it was, to introduce himself like that.

But it had given him a thrill.

He had been following Jenny for weeks now. Watching her and her girlfriend, Sydney, live their lives. It had been a surprise, seeing her get into a cab this late at night. Often, he would sit in his van watching their flat, even after the lights had gone home. Knowing Jenny was alone, that Sydney was working at the hospital, he felt it was his duty to watch over her. Seeing the lights flicker on, first in the bedroom and then other rooms, Matt knew something was happening.

When she left the house, suitcase in hand, he couldn’t help but wonder where she was going. Was she leaving Sydney? He had checked the clock on the dashboard. It was well after two in the morning. If they were splitting up, surely Jenny would have gone after Sydney had gone to work. She wouldn’t have waited until now. And it had looked as though she had gone to bed, not long after Sydney had gone to work.

No, this felt like something else. An emergency of some kind.

The baby?

Perhaps, there was something wrong or perhaps it was coming early. Matt felt a surge of excitement.

He watched Jenny climb into the taxi. She didn’t look as if she were in labour. Not that Matt really knew what that might look like. And the suitcase looked too big for an emergency baby bag.

Her mother perhaps?

Matt had done his research. Jenny had no other family. And Jenny’s mother had been unwell recently. He knew that because he had overheard Sydney talking about it at work.

He waited until the cab had pulled into traffic before starting the van’s engine. At the traffic lights the cab took the right hand lane and Matt pulled in behind it. They were not going in the direction of the hospital (both the psychiatric ward where he and Sydney worked, and the maternity wing were in the opposite direction).

The train station perhaps.

He glanced again at the clock on the dashboard. No. Too late for a train. A bus then.

Again, Matt felt a warm glow as he saw the cab pull into the space reserved for taxies, just outside the bus station. The feeling of satisfaction for guessing right quickly disappeared as he realised there was no way to follow Jenny without parking the van. He pulled into the carpark, taking the ticket from the machine and finding a space surprisingly easily.

He was in too much of a hurry, locking the van, and dropped the keys onto the floor. He cursed as he lost valuable seconds searching for them. They had slipped under the van, just behind the front wheel. He jogged towards the bus station. Then, suddenly realised he was not wearing a coat. Or a bag. He couldn’t pretend to be waiting for a bus without one. He returned to the van, unlocked it and grabbed the coat and bag from the passenger footwell. Locking the van he pulled the coat on, and slung the bag over his shoulder.

Arriving in the bus station, he was filled with a panic that he was too late. That Jenny had already got on a bus, and that he would have no idea where she was going. At this point he hadn’t planned to get on the bus. He had simply wanted to confirm his suspicion that Jenny was headed to her hometown.

There she was!

She was standing in a queue on the far side of the station. He casually walked towards her, making a show of looking at each bus stop. It was probably unnecessary - Jenny was looking at her phone - but he did it anyway. He didn’t want her to notice him.

As he approached her a bus drew up at the stop. The Slow Coach, it said. There was no number on the back, he couldn’t see where it was heading.

A young couple jostled past Matt as he joined the queue and to his dismay, he saw them push Jenny. She almost fell, the case falling from her hand. Without thinking, Matt slipped through the other passengers and grabbed hold of Jenny’s bag.

“Let me help you,” he said, smiling.

There was a slight pause and then she smiled in return.

“Thank you.”

While Jenny took her phone out so the driver could scan the ticket, Matt quickly used the Slow Coach App to buy himself a ticket. He wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t part of the plan.

“My name is Matt,” he said as he pushed Jenny’s bag into the tight space on the luggage rack above her seat. “Give me a shout when you need the bag taking down. Or if you need anything else.”

Jenny smiled at him, and his heart skipped a beat. She said thank you and he sat two seats behind her.

Why had he decided to take the journey with her? He was worried about her, after seeing her being pushed by those thugs - who were now slouching on the back row. But he could have simply helped her with her bag and then slipped away into the crowd. She probably wouldn’t have recognised him at a later date.

And why had he used his real name?

That was stupid. Although, he didn’t think Sydney knew his name. So even if Jenny named the nice man who helped me with my case when she talked to Sydney she wouldn’t put two and two together.

Why would she?

How could she?

It wasn’t the first time Matt had become infactuated with a woman. And it wasn’t the first time it had become an unhealthy obsession.

It was, however, the first time that he had become hung up on the partner of the person he had originally been fixated with.

Matt worked as a cleaner in the mental health ward. That was where he first encountered Sydney, a hard working and very beautiful junior doctor.

He was bewitched from the moment she smiled at him, holding open a door for him as he carried a mop and bucket. In his mind in that moment she had demonstrated her love for him. To most of the doctors and nurses Matt was invisible, someone who cleaned around them, not someone to interact with. The only time they saw him was when they wanted to repremand him for not cleaning something up, or if they needed something cleaning up quickly. But Doctor Syd - Matt and most of the staff team and patients knew her as - had seen him. As a person worth smiling at.

Matt had begun organising his shifts and his cleaning routine around when Doctor Syd was working. He even came into work twice at night when he knew she was the duty doctor. It was unpaid, unauthorised. Cleaning staff were not employed at night. But no one noticed that there was a cleaner on duty when there shouldn’t be one.

He began to research Doctor Syd, as he had done before. He found out where she had trained, how old she was, what her birthdate was, where she was born.

He followed her home.

And that was the first time he saw her.

Jenny.

It was the second time he had tried to follow Sydney home. It wasn’t an easy task. She cycled into work, locking her bicycle to the rails at the staff entrance. The first time he had followed on foot and had lost her after five minutes. Breathless and angry he had almost collapsed. He realised he would either have to buy a bicycle himself or he would have to be more devious.

He chose the second option.

One afternoon, he slipped out of the staff entrance, and - making sure there was no CCTV camera to watch his action - he lacerated both tyres on her bicycle. He knew she carried a spare inner tube - he had seen her change a flat one evening before cycling home. He was unsure if she carried two. But he hoped by ripping open the tyre, she would think it unrepairable and have no choice but to leave the bicycle and walk - or take the bus home.

He watched from the staff carpark, sitting in his small van.

He saw her come out with another doctor - a smug Australian doctor called Jim. He saw them laugh and then wave goodnight and he held his breath as he saw Doctor Syd approach the bike. She stopped. Bent down and examined both tyres. She then stood up and looked around. Although Matt knew she would not be able to see him sitting in the van (he had parked deliberately so from the direction of the mental health unit the sun reflected off the windscreen) he slid down in his seat. He saw her shake her head. She turned away, and walked around the building, heading for the road that led out of the hospital grounds and to the nearest bus stop.

He had throught that perhaps he would offer her a lift. To pretend he was just passing and saw her walking. But if she refused he would have to drive on and the opportunity to find out where she lived would be lost. And if she accepted… well she would know that he knew where she lived.

So he followed her on foot, once more.

She passed the bus stop and he saw that she was talking into her phone. She ended the phone call and increased her walking speed. Matt, who had made sure he was a distance away, so as not to be seen, had to almost run again, just to ensure he didn’t lose her.

She walked for almost half an hour at a pace that almost gave Matt a heart attack. And then finally he saw her reach into her bag and pull out a bunch of keys, just before she turned a corner.

He thought he had lost her. When he turned the corner, into a street with identical terraced houses, he couldn’t see her. But then he saw her key in hand at a door. The door opened before she could insert the key and a woman came out and hugged and kissed Dr Syd.

Matt stopped and watched as they went in to the house arm in arm. He knew then that he needed to know more about the woman who lived with Doctor Syd.

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A stalker! You've drawn me in to this story.