She looks at me and pauses, a double take
. Twists her head around about 25 degrees and its clear she recognizes me, but I don't recall her face
. She walks toward me, cautiously, while tapping an imaginary keyboard with her right index finger. Searching
. Searching for my name.
Eric. she says, and when I nod, she smiles to herself and it seems not because she is happy to see me, but because she overcame the fog to remember. She moves closer and as my expression has not changed, she shakes her head. She is surprised at my inability to make the connection.
Martha? she says quietly, in a voice people use around the infirm,
you remember, right?
as she purses her lips and shakes her head. I know this look. You poor sot, it says. It is both pity and contempt.
Martha, Caroline's roommate?
Her eyes widen as if their width would expand my memory.
Still nothing. She puts a hand on my forearm and looks at my eyes, to see if I am focusing clearly.
Caroline Henry, your fiancée? 1997? Hel-lo?
(The last is spoken with annoyance, the emphasis on the second syllable)
Nothing. I have no idea what this woman is talking about and I am starting to think I might be dealing with someone unstable.
You are kidding me, right? You really don't remember?
Her hands are on her hips now and she is becoming angry. Her face is contorted and she is implying that I knew her friend but forgotten her out of spite or something akin to that. I shrug my shoulders, and give her a inaudible no- just the movement of my mouth without sound.
she says, still shaking her head,
sorry to bother you.
But as she walks away there is one last look over her shoulder and her eyes, squinting at me in the distance, have that "I bet he is lying" look. I look not at her, but through her. I feel less than nothing at all.
If there was a roommate or a fiancé or a 1997 I have no idea. I only know it is almost lunchtime and I need to catch bus number 34 back home at 3. I know this because it's on the note in my pocket. I check it for the fourth time since I got here and that's what it says.
Bus 34 at 3pm.
I smile at the reassurance it gives me and walk toward the food court.
I seem to recognize your face,
haunting familiar, yet I can't seem to place it
Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town -Pearl jam