There’s a man in the distance.
I noticed him first on the desert sands of Arizona two years back. He was a dot on the horizon who shimmered like a mirage in the heat. I didn’t think he was real at first but his faceless shape became a constant in my life.
He followed me to my hometown. Across the long mall parking lots and the over-watered golf fields to the rooftops of my parents’ neighbors’ houses, he was standing there watching me. In the course of our long distanced staring contest, he gained a forgettable face that imprinted itself more sharply on my memory the further along it went.
He stood too casually. His hands deep in his pockets, hip and head cocked slightly to the side. His lips in a perpetual smirk.
Did I know him? Yearbook combing and Facebook searches yielded nothing. I tried walking towards him to get answers. Those were the only times he turned his back towards me. I continued to move in his direction but the gap between us never closed. But he hadn’t moved. Not a step, not even a lean. I called out to him but he didn’t acknowledge me.
I pointed him out to a few friends.
No one else saw him.
After a while and a few concerned whispers, I dropped it. Even as his presence began haunting my darkest dreams where I would wake suddenly and there he’d be looming, hands tightening around my throat.
Even as I grew to be afraid to be alone with him in a sea of people.
Even when my parents asked me why I was in a hurry to move away just to escape him.
But I should’ve known that even state lines couldn’t sever the distance between us.
His outline appeared in my rearview as I sped down the interstate. He was at the pit stops, the dive bars, the bones of Midwestern barns and the wide-open cornfields.
And he was getting closer.
When I moved into an apartment in the city’s beating heart, he was there. My first night there, I looked down at the streets below and he was there smirking.
I did the only thing I thought would bring me peace. I closed the curtains and refused to look at me. Refused to think about him and move on with my life.
The days rolled on uneventfully for a while. I woke up and he’s outside my window but I somehow forgot. He became another face to ignore and I was able to go on.
Until one night in front of my living room television where there was a knock on the door.
I wrote this story over a year ago while listening to a Morrissey song of the same title, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get.” I haven’t touched it since electronically transcribing it in early 2021 so here it is for your reading pleasure.