The note slipped into his jacket pocket, unnoticed, sometime during his Tuesday library session, just confirmed his suspicions.
It simply read, ‘The Authorities of looking over you’.
He screwed the paper up into a tight ball, and flushed it down the toilet. He stared intently as the swirling water devoured the message.
The walk back to his single room apartment was filled with furtive glances, left, right, up and down. Every face that walked past him was loaded with mistrust. He knew it was only a matter of time before the Authorities came for him. Early morning, or late at night, sometimes as a warning to others, in broad daylight, in the centre of the square.
Back, cocooned in his dank greying room, he sipped warm tea and tried to relax. Sleep eventually came, still fully clothed, smothered in damp, raw, stale sweat.
The morning was bright, a welcome beam of sunlight shone through his half-closed blinds. He rose, washed in cold water, then dressed himself in a pale green sweatshirt, and faded blue denim jeans. Wednesday was lecture day. He gathered up his pile of books, pad and pen, and slipped them into a frayed black canvas shoulder bag.
He hurried to the lecture room, just acknowledging one fellow student. A pretty girl, with startlingly green eyes and jet-black hair. She returned his nod with a thin, unemotional smile.
The students sat in rows, all still and silenced, seemingly consuming the lecturer’s every word.
When the room was dismissed, he walked out into the courtyard. Students huddled together in conspiratorial clumps.
Suddenly, two men in dark glasses, dressed entirely in black, appear. They push past him, and grab the green-eyed girl. The students watch in silence as the men bundle her, unceremoniously, into a white car.
He smiled, and spoke out loud, “I didn’t see that coming.”
© Graham Crisp