Jane paused from her scrawling after a mother with a child in her arms drifted by, and looked at Nathan, his tanned skin bathed in a bluish glow, thick lips moving soundlessly. Jane supposed he was attractive. His body was opposite to her stiff, sterile frame. Everything about him was a little untidy, a little unkept. His shaggy hair needed cutting. Spikes of stubble were poking through prolonged peach-fuzz. He wore his smile like a slept in T-shirt, and his breath smelled the same, but it was part of his charm.
They met when he moved into the flat next door, and after two weeks of Nathan’s knocking and love notes, Jane was about to take out a restraining order when the Government issued the law that everyone must travel in pairs during these “uncertain times”. More interested in continuing her parent’s research than social conventions, Jane had no one else to turn to.
Yet Nathan proved to be surprisingly tolerable. He was a collector of everything, his favourite, words. Books and quotes and dictionaries and poetry. Like Jane, he was obsessed with Ghosting. They went every night they could. When Jane was cold, he placed his jacket around her thin shoulders. It smelled like library books, and earl grey tea, and home, a scent Jane could never explain.
A cold breeze announcing a new wave of spirits stiffened Jane from these memories. That was before she knew the real Nathan. She closed her eyes, trying to tune out the sound of his rhyming babbles. She felt a heavy warmth on her shoulders, and the scent of libraries and tea and home curled around her. She heard Nathan’s voice, lulling her “ ... each night he must be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams.” Angrily, she shook off the jacket. “I told you, I’m fine.”
“It’s just a coat.”
Jane gritted her teeth. Nathan was right. It was just a coat.
That was what Jane hated most.