“Remember me? Remember me?” I want to run down the corridor, screaming. And you’ll look at me with disdainful non-recognition. Then, when I stop crestfallen and stumble on the last step, you’ll throw your head back and laugh. My cheeks burning, my eyes stinging and my nose suddenly all water but I’ll press my chin into my chest.
“Aww, the little baby’s crying? Crybaby! Crybaby!”
And your voice is getting closer and I can see the tips of your shoes now stepping up to me. But I still won’t look up. Because I’m smiling and I don’t want you to know it.
You’re circling me now, your voice getting softer and huskier. I wait for your feet to come back in sight. Silence. I flick my eyes to the right, then to the left. I start to raise my head. The sound rings through my right ear and down to the base of my neck. It hits me so hard I fall down and my eyes are running too now, with my nose. My right ear is ringing the static of televisions playing hide-and-seek. Even my eardrums co-operate with the games you want to play.
I become conscious of my hair fallen over my eyes and I open one tentatively. Slightly. You’re standing over me. I can see your jeans and your shirt, almost all the way to your collar. And your arm reaching out. I wonder what your palm will feel like on my head. I’ve got soft hair you know. You’d know if you’d ever touched it. The top of my head, perhaps. Or cupping my head, wrist at my nape, a palmful of my soft hair. I wait, wondering which it’ll be. I wait. I wait. I wait. Oh, please. Give me more waiting.
You don’t. The pain on my forehead forces me to look up but my eyes close of their own volition. It stops and I wait. More waiting. Please. The lock of hair has fallen over my face and I can feel it from the tips that grazed your wrists to the roots that still smart. Waiting. Feeling. Living. Alive. Still waiting.
You took off at this point because the watchman came around the corner, yelling. Too bad. I cried into my beautiful, soft hair for the first time in the day, not caring who knew. You weren’t around to see or catch me out. You weren’t around to be caught out. The game was over and I lost.
I gather my memory-sensations back to me and turn off the ignition. I’m wearing high heels today. And make-up too. Mascara that could run. Lipstick that smudges. Eye shadow that comes off onto every thing and incriminates. Are you up for the game?
You’re the first thing I see when I come up to the door. You’re all I see, everyone and everything else, objects in an obstacle course. Nostalgia conversations, food counter, playground tactics in adult clothes, dance floor, networking, bar, hook-ups. I take it all in, charting my path to you in all its iterations. Shortest route, most discreet, least distracting, most moral-support boosting, easiest to the door on the other side of the room. Which maneuver should I play? I take a single breath and pick one.
As I near you, you look up. I look back, cool and silent. Your eyes glow briefly and my breath catches. Your breath quickens and I remember, no, I see your chest rise and fall just a little faster. I see heat unfurling in your eyes, but it’s moving too fast. I dig deeper but I hit a cold concrete wall, no recognition. Then I see me through you. A beautiful stranger. Your concrete wall disgusts me. I curl my lip and I walk away.
It must be my hair. It’s trendier but it’s not as soft as it was. Colouring treatments and rebonding have given it a hard, metallic quality. My eyes prickle. No, that’s not it.
I should just have gone with “Remember me?”