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OK, let’s start the episode!
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Have You Seen This Woman?. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Woman. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Woman. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation after it.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
When you go to university, you will have a kind of class called a lecture. In a lecture, the professor stands in front of the class and explains a topic in detail. Usually, there is also a Powerpoint presentation to go along with the lecture, and students make notes as they listen.
A university society is a club that students can join. For example, there might be a football society, a dance society and a society for learning French. People go to society meetings because they are interested in the same thing. Some universities also have Christian societies, societies for people who believe in God and are Christian. Christian societies often try to talk to other students about believing in God.
A doughnut, or donut in American English, is a sweet fried food. Doughnuts are a bit like bread, but they are fried in oil. They often have sugar, chocolate and other sweet things on them. In The Simpsons, Homer Simpson loves eating doughnuts.
When you do something stupid and everyone sees you, you feel embarrassed. When people are embarrassed, they often go red and want to hide from other people. Some people can’t sing or dance in front of other people without getting embarrassed.
Drunk means you have drunk alcohol, like beer or wine, and you feel strange. Actually, most people like getting drunk. In the UK, beer and cider, which is made with apples, are popular types of alcohol to get drunk. British people mostly like getting drunk very much. Personally, I don’t drink often, because I don’t like how you feel afterwards.
Hungover is how you feel after you get very drunk. So the day after you drink a lot of alcohol, you have a hangover; you are hungover. Basically, you are still a bit drunk, and you can have a headache, dry mouth, a stomach ache and so on. There are many ways people try to “cure” a hangover, for example by eating greasy food. But really, you just have to go through feeling horrible for a day or two.
When you didn’t do something, and now you think it would have been good to do it, you can say, ‘I wish I had done that.’ Of course, we can’t change things that happened in the past, but we often say, ‘I wish I had known’, because then we could have done something different. Personally, I wish I had known what I wanted to study at university before I went, so that I didn’t leave university the first time.
When something happens and you didn’t think it was going to happen, you are surprised. For example, if you come home and all your friends are there because it is your birthday, you will be surprised! They might say, ‘Surprise!’ because it is a surprise birthday party. That’s a nice surprise, but there are also bad surprises. For example, maybe you turn your computer on and find out that it’s broken. That’s a bad surprise!
Poetry is a type of art. Poetry is like a song, but it only uses words. Pieces of poetry are called poems. A very famous poem is by William Shakespeare: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.’ He was famous for his poetry and for writing plays.
A big thank you to my new patron, Alexandru Catalin. What a lovely name! Thank you for the support, Alexandru. If you want to show your support for the podcast, you can send me a few dollars a month at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Have You Seen This Woman?
How many times did I see her every day? Maybe ten times. I saw her a lot. We were in the same classes together. So I saw her in the morning. I met her to walk to the lecture hall together. Every Wednesday, we walked past the Christian society. They gave people free doughnuts, coffee and tea. She always took a doughnut and a cup of tea. They tried to talk to her about God, and she said, ‘Sorry, but God doesn’t love me. If God loved me, I wouldn’t be late today.’
The first time she did this, I laughed. But when she did it every Wednesday, I felt embarrassed. She said the same thing to the same people. I could see that they didn’t want to give her doughnuts, but they had to. And maybe they thought that, one day, she wouldn’t be late, and they could talk to her about God.
Actually, we were never late. We met at almost the same time every day. When I was late, she walked without me.
So I saw her in the morning, when we walked to lectures. I saw her at lunchtime, too. She always went and sat in one place and ate her lunch. She had her own lunchbox every day. I wasn’t like her. I never made my own lunch. I just bought lunch in one of the shops and ate with my friends. Once or twice I tried to invite her to eat with us, but she said no.
‘I don’t know your friends,’ she said.
‘Well, that’s why I’m inviting you,’ I said.
‘No, thank you,’ she said.
And that was that. I stopped inviting her. I knew that if she didn’t want to meet them now, she would never want to meet them.
In the afternoon, we had more lectures together. Then, on some days, we walked back home. She lived near me, of course. But many days, I went to study in the library after lectures. OK, well not that often. But sometimes, when I wanted to be a good student, I did. Other days, I went with my friends into town and we bought clothes.
When else did I see her? I actually saw her a lot on the weekends. When I was hungover, I went for walks in a park near my house. I saw her there, too. She didn’t walk much. She just sat on one side of the park. She waited until people came in with their dogs. Then she went and played with the dogs. I think some people didn’t like this. They just wanted to walk their dogs, but she played with the dogs for a very long time. I felt a bit embarrassed for her.
But I said hello, of course. She didn’t want to talk with me much. She never talked much, really. I didn’t mind. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a friend who doesn’t talk much.
But now, I wish I had talked to her more…
Those were the places I saw her, usually. I sometimes saw her when I went out with my friends. Actually, that surprised me. Once or twice, we went to the pub, and I saw her there. She was sitting in the corner, alone, of course. I was surprised to see her in a pub. I thought she was drinking a glass of water. Then I went and said hello.
‘If you’re drinking water, why are you in a pub?’ I said.
‘It’s not water. It’s vodka,’ she said.
‘You’re drinking that much vodka?’ I said.
‘I drink slowly,’ she said.
I didn’t know what to say, so I went back to my friends. I watched her during the night. She did drink slowly, and she finished the whole glass. Then she left. I thought she would fall, because she was so drunk, but she didn’t. She drank a lot of alcohol, I think.
One time, I saw her at Catweazle. Catweazle was a performance club in the city. Every Thursday, they did a performance night. People played music, sang, danced, read poetry. My friend wanted me to read my poetry, but I was too embarrassed. We went to watch, anyway. And then we saw her there.
She was singing. She was drunk, I think, the way she sang. Maybe she had drunk a big glass of vodka. But her singing was good. She sounded sad, but the music was good. We were all so surprised to see her there.
‘That’s the strange girl from your lectures, right?’ said my friends.
‘Don’t call her “strange”,’ I said.
But she was strange. Not in a bad way. But her singing was… strange. She was singing in a different language, but I didn’t know what language it was. When she finished, I could see that people didn’t really know what to think about it. I clapped a lot for her, though.
Afterwards, I went and talked to her.
‘I’m surprised to see you here,’ I said.
‘Why?’ she said.
Well, that was a hard question. I didn’t want to say something unkind, so I said, ‘I didn’t know you sang.’
‘Oh yes,’ she said. ‘I sing a lot. And why are you here?’
‘I, uh, I thought I was going to read some poetry,’ I said. ‘But I was too embarrassed.’
‘Embarrassed?’ she said. ‘We only have a bit of time in this world. Why be embarrassed? Go and do what you want.’
‘But is this all you really want?’ I said. ‘I mean, you don’t have any friends. I mean, I’m your friend, but…’
I was drunk, and I was saying unkind things. But she just laughed.
‘Like I said, we don’t have much time in this world. I don’t want to be friends with people like your friends. They laugh about me, don’t they? I like being friends with dogs, actually. They’re nicer than people. I didn’t want to be your friend, but you talked to me a lot, so I decided it was OK.’
I was very surprised. I had thought she liked me a lot, because I was one of her only friends. But I wasn’t that important to her.
That was the last time I saw her. Well, you know what happened. One day she was there, the next day she was gone. Maybe when she said ‘we don’t have much time in this world’, she knew she was going to go. But where?
The police looked everywhere. She wasn’t in the university, or in town. She wasn’t at home, or at a friend’s house. She had no boyfriend or girlfriend, and her family hadn’t seen her for years.
They did find one thing, though. In her house, there was a note. It said:
God doesn’t love me. I know that. But they love me. I know that they do. And they’re much better friends than all of you. Actually, they’re better friends than dogs, but don’t tell the dogs that. I wanted to introduce you to them, but they don’t think you’re the right kind of person. Sorry. You probably have too many friends. They like people who don’t have a lot of friends.
Have a good life, anyway. I’m going to have a very long and happy life. You’ll die long before me, but that’s OK. People in this world might think my singing is a bit strange, but they love it. Have a doughnut, if you want.
Next to the note, there were hundreds of doughnuts. They were all the doughnuts she’d been given by the Christian society. Every week, she put them in her bag. I thought she ate them at lunch, but she didn’t. She took them all home.
The police didn’t understand her message. I also didn’t really understand it. I didn’t want to understand it. I think sometimes it’s better not to understand things, like if God is real or not.
But sometimes, at night, I look at the sky and think of her.
Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoyed the story.
This is another original story, another story that I wrote myself. It seems I’ve written a few science fiction stories recently, which is quite exciting because I know it’s a genre some of you have wanted to have more of on the podcast.
Weirdly, strangely, I seem to have a thing for stories where a character disappears and goes and makes friends with aliens.
When you say ‘I have a thing for something’, it means you like something but you don’t really know why. So I seem to have a thing for stories where characters get taken away by aliens.
Aliens are like E.T. Aliens talk like this. And they live on different planets, they live in space.
I seem to have a thing for stories where characters get taken away by aliens, but they kind of like it. They’re friends with the aliens. I did another podcast episode with a very similar story called The Venerable Mr. Siggs. You can listen to that at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Siggs. But that’s an advanced story, so if you’re a beginner, it will be much harder to understand.
Anyway, there are lots of different ways to interpret the ending of this story.
‘Interpret’ means to decide what you think it means. So sometimes have endings where you don’t really know what happens but you can interpret in different ways. One person might interpret it to mean one thing and one person might interpret it to mean another thing.
So one person might interpret the end of my story to mean that it’s about aliens. E.T. phone home. Or another person might interpret it to be about a crazy woman who ran away, I don’t know.
Anyway, I definitely found it hard to make friends when I was at university, so I kind of understand the woman in this story.
Anyway, if you like stories like this, if you want more original stories, you can say thank you to me by buying me a coffee. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com, click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! and you can send me $3, or more if you would like!
I have to admit, and you probably already know, I don’t really buy coffees. I usually buy bubble tea, as I talked about at the end of the last episode.
By the way, I have started uploading the podcast episodes to YouTube. I know some people find it convenient to listen to podcasts on YouTube. So do go over to the Easy Stories in English and you can relisten to your favourite podcast episodes there.
Thanks again for listening and I’ll see you next week!