But it was a comfortable scarf. A nice scarf indeed.
I've never been so concerned about a scarf.
I’m wholly convinced somebody stole it. Just reached her little hand into my bag during a dull lecture wherein seconds and minutes and hours--even days-- all seemed the same. Maybe it was a mission for her- this rush of adrenaline!- where she pondered getting caught by the five foot brunette in front of her. Maybe she glanced up at the clock and maybe the sweat beaded at her forehead and maybe she inched it out with her foot and leaned down, stealthily, and slowly pulled it out. And she would seem so nonchalant and she would trick the person next to her into thinking that it was her scarf and truly, I was the one who stole it! Or the craftiest of all, maybe she acted as though it slid beneath my seat and waited patiently for her to retrieve it.
I told myself that the guilty would come forward soon enough-- she would mistakenly wear it to class, freely showing it off, forgetting that she had stolen it from me. And when she saw me she would not make eye contact for suddenly!- she would remember. But remove it she would not. No, that would be quite obvious. Instead, she would sit far away and her face would suggest keen interest in the dates and the wars and the people that shaped Europe.
The thoughts and assumptions and accusations clouded my head, and as I sat arm to arm between my peers I couldn’t help but feel awkward. (I'm American. I enjoy my space. Don’t get into my-- oh, please don’t! And I’m a sort of touchy-feely person and I wholly love affection, but the anxiety I experience when a complete stranger’s elbow brushes past my arm or when their leg taps into my foot is so uncomfortable that a nervous habit of tapping my foot or swaying my knee distracts me so well that I am able to breathe in beats rather than swallows.)
So, I started to fumble with a necklace.
A new habit entirely unique to this one class and its remaining half hour. I could look down and act as though I was listening while I quietly concentrated on my fingers and this necklace. My peers on either side were cut out from peripheral vision and I was able to relax, easy enough. Wrong. I was a seventh grader, caught by the teacher midway between a note pass. She called me out: "Having trouble with the necklace?" In broken words, "Oh, uh. It’s sort of a nervous habit." And throughout the lecture I couldn’t think anymore. My concentration was gone! I forgot the peers. I forgot the clock. I forgot the elbows and the knees and the coughing and the clicking and the scribbling and-- the scarf! I forgot the scarf! All I could focus on were the words that came out of my mouth. It’s sort of a nervous habit. It’s sort of a nervous habit. It’s sort of a nervous habit. And half of my mind reminded that nobody remembered my words, nobody cared, half the class was sleeping, some were fixed on the clock. But I still didn't show up to class the next day.
And I bet she wore the scarf.