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Old Souls

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She looked at it while it was lying on her Table next to her Coffee each morning - she felt it heavy in her coat pocket on her way to work. She tried to not look at it while she was at work. And she simply had to put it in another room when she was meditating. It was a constant reminder - a chore - a choice - a door to new possibilities. 

 

She was overthinking this.

 

She tried following her routine - going through her everyday life … but she wants to - she could… she should… but how? She opened the messaging-app once, twice, endless times a day. Just to stare at it.

 

In the end her phone felt heavier than a brick.

She should have just given Tobin her number! what was she thinking? 

Her mind had tried to make up a thousand different openers - but shut them all down immediately because they either felt lame, too obvious, obnoxious or just not like something she would say. 

 

She unlocked it  just to stare at her home screen and lock it again. 

 

Days! It had been days - 

days full of agonie. Of her thoughts doing summersaults. Running from one wall to the next. Jumping up and down.

 

And then it just happened naturally 

Walter told her one of his countless stories - this time with Tobin as the main character - but to Christens surprise - a mean one.

Christen: Care to elaborate why you ignored your neighbors kid for a whole week when you were eleven? 

 

Tobin: I’m really hoping you are Christen and not someone related to Stella?  

Also, that's a very one sided way to frame that story - what did the old man tell you? 

 

Christen: Oh Yes, sorry should have put my name at the end of that text :D

Pretty much what I just texted you … 

I thought you were a nice one? 

Why did you torture poor Stella? 

 

Christen: Also I’m just now realising that this was an amazing chance to pretend I was someone else and torture you for a bit. Bummer. 

 

Tobin: That's not what that was at all! I was reading a book in which the kids had magic powers and could make themselves invisible and stuff like that - and I thought she would feel like she had magic powers too when I acted like she was invisible … I didn't really realise that she didn't like that at all ...

 

Christen: Thats kind of a sweet idea - but I heard that poor girl was in agony for a full week !!!

 

Tobin: ugh don't remind me of that - I still feel so bad about it! Maybe I should look her up and apologize again...
Do I even want to know what else Grandpa told you about me? 

 

Christen: Oh no …I’m pretty sure you don't. 

How is Olli doing? 

 

Tobin: Oh she just peed all over the new hardwood floor - so I’d say she is doing pretty fine.
PS: If you have any handy tips about that let me know! 

 

Christen: Non that you can't just google I guess. 

 

Tobin: I’d rather have you explain them to me than google. Not everyone has a private dog whisperer. I have to take advantage of that! 

I can ask you follow up questions - google just leads to more googling in the end .

 

Christen: Is that so so? 

 

Tobin: Yes !



Christen: By the way - New hardwood floors?! Look at you sounding like an adult! 

Do you guys live in a new building or something? 

 

Tobin: Quite the opposite actually! I guess I still have some mystery left and the Old man hasn't told you everything about my life so far.

Christen: To be fair - he is mostly sticking to old stories about you - so yeah, I might know a lot about the little Tobin growing up - but the adult Tobin with hardwood floors and a peeing dog is still a mystery! 

 

Christen: PS: You already used the mystery-line the last time we met.

 

Tobin: Great. Now I’m blushing.

 

Tobin:  But Christen,... 

I’m glad to finally have your number now.

 

…. to tell you embarrassing stories about Grandpa ofcourse!

 

Christen: And here I was thinking that you just wanted me for all the information about potty training your dog. 

 

Tobin: That too of course ;) 



The thing is once they started texting … they didnt stop. 

It felt like as soon as the floodgates were opened there was no way of closing them again. 

 

Christen suddenly found herself constantly on her cell phone. The small shots of dopamine that flooded through her when the same name appeared on her lock screen over and over again gave her steps new momentum, making the device that had been her enemy not long ago, now a constant companion. 

It’s her lifeline to quick exchanges that bring tears of laughter to her eyes - A little door into the thoughts of a fascinating person. 

Getting to know Tobin like this was exhilarating to say the least.



Christen now carried her phone wherever she went, she texted and texted and texted. All throughout her day she found little pockets of time to respond to Tobins latest message. 

Talking to her was just easy - they seemed to have the same sense of humor, and were equally eager to get to know the other one. In between Oli was always a good distractive topic - and a reason to keep the conversation light.

 

She now started her day with a quick look on her phone - she was mostly without a doubt awake before Tobin, but she could almost always be sure to have a text from her waiting from the night before. Walking to work and getting started now felt like the longest stretch of the day. Waiting for the first message of Tobin throughout the start of the day was now a concept of time mocking her with trying to be the longer than the Physics lessons back in her school days. She tried to be present at work - something that was always important to her. She tried to keep the phone in her back pocket when she was interacting with different patients throughout the day - but more often than not the little vibration pulled her focus bag to the never ending conversation between smalltalk and deep topics about anything and everything. 

 

They never seemed to stop. But in between all this - everything felt like walking a tightrope. 

Christen was unsure if they were only talking like good friends do - or if there was something more behind the never ending stream of messages. some comments seemed a little flirty but she could easily be misreading that. Christen couldn't really put her finger on it.

Most importantly: So far neither of them acknowledged the neverending nature of their digital connection. 

 

If she was being honest: There are a lot of things they didn't acknowledge.

 

The deeper they got into it, the longer their conversation was going on, the more Christen felt this longing for more. She wanted to see her again, wanted to feel if her own heartbeat would speed up again in the same way it did the last few times she saw her - and the way it did now every time there was a new message waiting for her. She wanted to look in those warm brown eyes and find something in them. A nudge as to where their connection was heading. 

 

Their interactions changed from friendly to intimate - but never really on the nose flirting or hinting to more than just a very intense and deep talk like she would have with her closest friends or maybe with her sisters - and in the blink of the eye they were back to friendly again.

Before Tobin texts could live unanswered in her phone for days on end. It was always more effective to just call her. 

Which means she isn't familiar with the digital dance she is partaking in. That's why she isn't sure how to turn the newfound connection away from a solely digital one into a face to face interaction. Proposing the idea of meeting each other again without pushing the direction they were talking in one way or the other? That seemed impossible.

 

She was new to this. The feeling of really getting to know someone - to know their daily routines without ever partaking in them, knowing her favorite coffee order, without ever listening to that raspy voice ordering it, following the development of little Oli without touching her soft fur, knowing the grocery shopping list without ever having seen the fridge or the whole kitchen for that matter. 

Sometimes it all just feels like a fantasy, like a person just existing in her phone - made for her to laugh harder than she has laughed in a long time. Open up about herself in a way she hasn't in a long time with a person her own age. It's like the image of soft brown hair was just created in her mind  for her to fantasize running through it with her fingers .

 

Tobinn seemed like a dream, stuck in her phone.

 

which is why she wasn't expecting Tobin to just appear in her real world life all of a sudden. 

She should have expected her to visit her grandpa - of course. She should have just expected to run into her at any place really. Tobin seemed to have a way of doing that. 

But her mind was still in a very different place when she opened the door to his room at the end of her round of checkin in with every resident.  

So -  she shouldn't have been surprised, but she clearly is. Her feet stay rooted at the spot, she is looking straight at her, just for a second. Those brown eyes meeting her own green ones again. A shy smirk making an appearance on Tobins face - but before she could think about that little dimple she hadn't noticed before, her attention was pulled towards an excited bark underneath the table and then, of course to Walter himself. 

She hopes she isn't blushing. But she is sure her heart is racing faster than it ever has. Running track be damned - she is struggling to keep her breathing under control just standing still in a comfortable room. 



“Christen! Great to see you today - you already know Tobin, but I’m really excited for you to meet your closest competitor for the title of my youngest best friend'' Walter was excitedly pointing at the small dog Christen already has a soft spot in her heart for. 

She was still processing being in the same room as Tobin again, Walter's words echoing loudly in a deserted corner of her head, while her entire focus is still somewhere between the written messages and the current reality - before it comes crashing down on her like a fast train. She understood that she was supposed to show a reaction - any reaction. Barely seconds have probably passed since she entered the room, but her mind was still playing catch up. 

 

Say something, anything!

 

It turns out - she isn't  able to think about a lot of words when standing right in front of Tobin - so she takes the first way out she can think of. Oli is always good for an appropriate distraction of the current focuspoint. Leaning down she just focuses on the excited pub - scratching her properly behind her ears.

 

Oli was already rolling on her back and letting Christen give her generous belly rubs, when she finally finds the courage to look up again. Walter is smiling his signature smile, stretching over his whole face.
“She really seems to like you” 

Christen couldn't help but smile in return, looking down at Oli again.
“Yeah, we have met” 

“Well that's a line i’ve heard before!” Tobin muttered quietly with another smirk on her lips. 

 

The little bit of teasing didn't go unnoticed by Christen. Quite the opposite. Looking back at Tobin she raised her eyebrows in a bit of a challenge - not going to dig deeper into it in this moment - but feeling a glimpse of hope their connection might actually be heading in a flirty direction. 

 

Just like that the butterflies in her stomache were going wild again. 

Before she could get lost in those eyes again she pulled her focus back, remembering that she was actually there for a reason. She has to make sure Walter gets his medizine. Standing up she is reaching for the small pill container in the back pocket of her jeans. 

 

“Are you going to look at your Phone again?” Walter looks at her like he is about to scold her for something.  “I meant to tell you that you are non-stop looking at that thing nowadays. What happened to my I don't really enjoy technologie in my life Christen?” He asked with a raised eyebrow. 

To Tobins amusement Christens face turned beet red before Christen could speak up again - holding the small bottle with Pills in her hand she tried to contain some sort of composure. “I was trying to give you your pills, if you would have let me finish” 

“My observation still stands. Don't let yourself get pulled into this thing. Real life happens right here - and not in there!”

Tobin was trying her best not to laugh. Forcing herself to neither look Christen nor her grandpa in the eyes - out of fear she might actually start laughing out loud.

After another second the stern look on his face faded again. He apparently decided to let her off the hook. 

For a spilt second Christen tried to get some help on the matter from Tobin - but as soon as Walter changed the topic she is happy to let that one go.

 

“So how do you know my little best friend?” 

damn  

Christen really hoped he would let that one slide. 

 

Instead her face didn't seem to get a break from the constant blushing. 

So Christen did what she did best. 

She took a deep breath, trying to ground herself. 

Gibving herself a moment, she sits down on the empty chair at the small table and briefly looks around the room she is so familiar with. With another deep breath, she let the initial panic slowly subside and let the waves of familiarity take over. 

This is Walter, the man with whom you shares so many thoughts - the man who makes you laugh and cry. And next to him is Tobin, his granddaughter that just so happens to occupy every single one of your thoughts every day for the last week. No big deal. 

Besides, what could be weird about this story? You ran into her by accident, or Oli did at least.

 

“Well your granddaughter doesn't like to keep her dog on a leash” 

It seemed like a good start to the story as any.

With Walters' curious eyes, and Tobins big smile she told the quick version of their accidental meeting. Trying to skip the last part about them exchanging numbers. 

She just had a feeling the old man would latch onto that fact real fast. 

 

“You should really keep her on a leash when you are taking her somewhere. At least until she is fully trained” Now he was looking at Tobin with the same scolding look on his face he directed towards Christen earlier.

It is a good look - becaus it is working.  

Christen was just happy that's what he took away from that small story, glad he didn't try to dig deeper into it. He has a tendency to do that even with small anekdotes - often finding some bigger meaning behind the small moments of her life.

His pedagogical side was obviously focusing on Tobin now - and even if it's a little selfish, she's glad for the moment out of the spotlight.

 

Tobin looked down at Oli mumebeling something about “not wanting her restrained” and “freedom”.

“I bet she has more than enough freedom around the house and the garden, she’ll survive being on a leash from time to time. It is actually good for her!”

 

“Well that's what Christen said too” 

Before Walters' surprised but curious look could turn into more questions about her again, Christen stepped in real quick with a question of her own.
“You have a garden?” 

“Well of course she does. It's the most beautiful garden with the world's best peartree” Walter said with a loud proud voice. 

 

It took her a second but then she placed two and two together “You are living in Walters House?” 

 

“Well it's Littles house now, and she is renovating it to fit herself better - but I like to think of it as my old home, yes” 

 

Christen was a bit stunned - she didn't see this one coming. It's quite a commitment to take on such an inheritance. Somehow she got more of a nomad feeling from Tobin although she already told Christen about putting down some roots here. She just didn't think those roots were that big. Like renovating an old family home big!

 

“That sounds like a lot of work” 

 

“It is - but I love it. It's nice to put all those carpenter skills to good use - and this way I actually get to live in the progress I created” 

It was the first thing Tobin said directly to her since the conversation had started, her warm smile grounding her while also making her tingly all over. 


“That does sound like a cool project!” She commented a bit breathless.

 

Christens thoughts suddenly venturing to Tobin being all handy, and strong. Her mind trying to picture her working on different things around the house. While their eyes never leaf each other. Neither of them say anything, they are just looking. Really looking. Connecting after all that texting.

Christen can't be sure, but she gets a feeling Tobin also needed a little reminder of what it was like sitting in front of each other. Looking at the face you only imagined to the best of your knowledge while typing the same sentence over and over, imagining the reaction it might bring out of the other woman. Being able to just see them again, feel their presence right in front of you. 

Just as she started to notice a slight blush on Tobins cheeks they were pulled out of their little moment.

“You should have a look at it sometime” Walter interrupted them.

 

Both must have a slightly confused look on their face.

“The house I mean, you should show it to Christen - she heard so many stories about it, it couldn't hurt to give her a bit of a context “ he winked. 

He knows what he is doing. 

Or does he?

 

She didn't dare to look at Tobin at that moment - instead choosing to change the topic jet again. 

“I’m going nowhere if you don't take your pills!”

 

They managed to keep the conversation light after that. Mostly focusing on Oli and her curiosity. To Tobins and Christens amusement Walter tried to teach the dog her first trick - but was helpless as long as Tobin kept hostage of all the dog treats.

Without looking at the clock Christen let herself get lost in the company a bit to much. Talking to them was just so easy and comfortable. 

Even without a look at the clock one of them got impatient.

 

“Is she toilet trained jet?”

Christen asks pointing at Oli sniffing the floor, showing the tell tale signs of needing to have a wee soon. 

“She does good on most days, why?”

Tobin asks, a bit taken off guard by the question.

“Most dogs begin to search and sniff the ground when they need to go outside. They also look about as restless or nervous as she does right now”  she says while chuckling a bit to herself at how clearly Oli is looking for a place to do her business.

“Dog whisperer”

“shut up” she counters Tobins teasing with a wide smile.

 

“As much as I start to like that dog, peeing in my room might put a strain on our new friendship” Walter intercepts with a belly laugh. “I should also lay down for a bit. I’m getting quiet tiered”

“Are you ok?” 

Tobin's quick concern warms Christens heart.

“Of course Little, I’m just getting old” He reaches for her hand to pull her into one of those warm hugs Christen has received as often as she has seen him give them to other people. They are great hugs. 

 

“Alright, alright” Tobin is laughing into his shoulder “I’ll let you sleep old man” 

“Thanks for coming by today, and thank you for introducing me to that little firecracker. But please get her out of here before she leaves me a little present”

 

Just now realizing that she simply stood there watching their interaction this whole time Christen makes an effort to check in with Walter  too. “Let me know if you need anything - I’ll see you at dinner after your nap!”

 

As soon as they walk out of the room and shut the door behind them Christen realises they are alone in the hallway. Suddenly overwhelmed by the closeness she doesn't really know where to take it from here. 



Tobin is leaning against the wall, snapback on her head, hands in the pockets of effortlessly good looking baggy pants. A white shirt highlighting the white teeth that shine through the wide smile she is giving Christen. Christen, who lets her eyes roam over the woman in front of her, before she looks straight into those warm brown eyes again. 

Her breath is catching in her throat because of the sudden urge to lean in and touch Tobin. She wants to hug her as tight as Walter just did, she wants to run her hands through the soft hair, place her fingers on her arms, she wants so much - - -

she is overwhelmed. 

And Tobin, Tobin is just letting her look, giving her this small pocket of time - of security. She waits for Christens eyes to meet her own again. And even then she gives it another second before speaking up again. 

 

“You can, you know” biting her bottom lip she tries not to look away. Her right hand rubbing her neck, while the left one is holding Olis leash in a vice grip. 

She looks nervous Christen realises.

 

It takes her a second before she can think about the offer, too distracted trying to decipher the body language of the other woman. 

 

“I’d love to show it to you -- the house I mean” 


“yeah?”

Christens voice sounds happy and unsure at the same time. It's more of a whisper - her confidence apparently left somewhere in the security of their Text Messages.

 

“yeah”

 

“okay” 

 

“okay what?”

 

“okay, show it to me” 

 

Well mybe she had at least a little bit of confidence left. Another moment passes.

“right now?” 

 

That makes her laugh a little, breaking the tension that is building faster than she can comprehend.

“No, not right now I still need to work - but I can come over whenever you want - well as long as I’m not working” 

 

“and when would that be?” 

 

“I’ll get out late today - but I have tomorrow morning free” 

 

Too soon? Too overbearing? 

 

“Sounds good! I’ll make sure to have some breakfast and coffee ready. That big old dining room table is screaming for a proper inauguration.” 

 

With that Oli was getting impatient again, pulling on her leash. 

“I should probably get going” there is a hesitancy in her voice - something that tells Christen Tobin would stay with her in this empty hallway for much longer if she could. 

 

“Seems like she communicated that to you through the leash” 

Christen points out proudly.

“Still doesnt mean I have to like them” 

 

“You'll get around to it!” 

“I’ll try - so... see you tomorrow morning?” 

Tobin is pushing herself off the wall, movin even further into Christens space. She can see the small freckles on her nose, smell the intoxicating perfume Tobin must be wearing, feel her own heart racing. 

 

“Yeah, see you then” 

With that Christen takes a step back - to obtain control over her senses again - and to let Tobin start moving ofcourse.

 

“I’m sure I'll text you before that” it feels like a promise ”because of Oli of course”.

 

Grinning wide she lets her go.

“Sure! Because of Oli” 

 

Christen won't be able to wipe that huge smile off of her face for the rest of the day. Especially not when she receives another Text Message about an hour later. 

 

Tobin: Oli wanted to make sure you know where to go tomorrow: 

 

Attached is a picture of Oli sitting in front of a door, the number 8 next to it. 

Christen assumes that's the front door of the famous house.

 

...And then there is another text with Tobins address.