MayShortReads 05: Remember Me?

“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?”

Panchou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12 thoughts on “MayShortReads 05: Remember Me?

  1. Now this was an absolute joyride.
    Loved the dissonant, multifarious stream of consciousness style.
    The subject matter itself was intriguing, though it took me about two reads in the middle bit to really gauge the tone of the piece.
    Last line FTW!

    1. @Febinmathew: Another friend who read the piece found it confusing. Just FYI, this is a story about a schoolyard bully & his victim experiencing Stockholm syndrome. It is not about domestic abuse. Glad you liked it!

      1. Oh I really liked this one, as the rather effusive comment should have given away.
        I didn’t think it was domestic abuse at all. Confusing maybe, but not that confusing.
        I wouldn’t have sussed out Stockholm Syndrome so much as conditioning and her slowly learning to be into it.
        One more lens to apply.

        1. @febinmathew: Yes, that’s precisely the story I was going for. Not worried about the different interpretations though. The subject is a grey area after all.

      2. Then safe to say you hit the nail on the head. There is really no scope for moral grandstanding anyway. To each his own.

        But regardless, still one of the best in the entire lot, this one is.

        1. @febinmathew: I believe so too, though I think ‘Pain’ and ‘Family Secrets’ turned out better than expected as well. Tapping into dark emotions seems to help fiction. I’d like to be able to do that with the more cheerful ones too, though.

      3. Short fiction ALWAYS works better with the darker side of life. ‘Pain’ was very top notch with respect to being descriptive, but it was in the end, just a vignette.
        ‘Family Secrets’ and this both had a plot, narrative so to speak. Hence my pick.

        1. @febinmathew: Apt observation. Another friend commented that short fiction has to be about BANG! concepts because of the limited space. I guess dark emotions are ‘BANG!’ enough.

  2. Am I the friend who found it rather confusing? Well I still do. In most writing, I usually know that I’m supposed to be confused when I am confused. Here I’m not sure. Is it that this girl sees her potential rapist everywhere? Or did she make him up in the first place. You know since I’m not sure, and I probably missed the point, I’m not going to comment much on this story. But how did you manage to be so divorced from emotive sentences even in this story. You went on and on about her hair dammit, I still didn’t feel it. You need to work that emotive muscle, girl.

    1. @Ronaan Roy: No, that was someone else I was talking about. Just to clarify, this is not a story about rape any more than domestic abuse. A girl is picked on by her classmate when they’re in school (about 12 or 13). It’s confusing for both of them at that age. Since the story is told from within the girl’s mind, you see how that early experience blurs her understanding of love & sex. She associates the harassment with attention that she welcomes, even if it is negative in nature. The first half is culled from memory and distorted by her own desires. The second half happens in the present as she walks into the school reunion hoping to meet her harasser/lover. She finds him, he doesn’t recognize her but displays his attraction in the more ‘normal’, conventional way. She’s put off by this as he’s not playing ‘the game’ as she thinks of it in her head, so she walks away. And walking away, she tries to figure out what went wrong, first assuming blame for it with her physical appearance and finally concluding that she should have replayed the situation from the past by approaching him with ‘Remember Me?’

      It all seemed very clear in my head but it looks like only the potency of emotion came through and not the plot. But gah, from your comment it looks like even that didn’t work for some readers.

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