by Dominic Blackwell
“Hi! How are you?”
“Fine. Er, good thanks. You?”
“Great, really great”, she said with a smile. “It’s so good to see you!”
And at this point, I felt lost. Totally and utterly. I had no idea of what had happened or what would come next. I looked at her. For one thing, I couldn’t bring her name to mind and yet she looked like one who would stay in the mind. If she had stood her head would have reached my chest. She sat in front of me on a bench with her with her sheer-stockinged legs crossed brazenly at the thigh. She wore a short, tight evening dress and she dangled a high-heeled sandal from the toes of one foot while her other foot swung, lazily under the bench.
Before I could tell her I didn’t know her name, she jumped in.
“I bet you’re surprised to see me here.”
“Yes I am.”, I replied, with honesty.
“Well sit down with me. I will ask you a question. ”
“OK. What is it?”
“What do you feel right now?”
“I’m surprised. But then I said that.”
I hesitated, tried to get my head around this. What could I say?
“No, please don’t agonise”, she said with a laugh. “Not what you think — what you feel!”
“Happy. Lucky. Like this is exciting somehow.”
And if felt exciting but like it meant more than just that.
“Good. We’ve got somewhere.”
“Yes we have. Now how would you feel if I went away now?”
“Well then I won’t — for now”
I needed more information so I could work this out.
She touched her hand on my arm. I flinched in surprise.
“Don’t worry about this. You have a question. You want the answer. Ask it”
An escape route showed itself.
“I’m really sorry. I don’t remember your name. What is it?”
“I know you’re sorry. But I won’t tell you”
“Why did you make me ask?”
“So I could get it out of the way. I saw you think on it. You weren’t brave enough. You wouldn’t come out with it. You wouldn’t ask. So I gave you the chance to.”
“Right. So you’ll make me work it out?”
“So you’ll tell me?”
“No.” Only how her glossy lips, were held in a smile convinced me she hadn’t taken offence and she didn’t want a fight.
She put her hand on my knee. I just didn’t flinch.
“I won’t tell you. And I don’t want your guesses, so can you stop?”, she asked, looked into my eyes.
“Yes, if that’s what you want.”
“It is. So can we move on?”
The fog hadn’t cleared. But she seemed content.
“Good. How do you feel now? Honestly.”
“Right. That’s more honest. Why are you confused?”
“Because I don’t know what’s happened and who you are.”
“Why do you need those things?”
Now she’d trapped me.
She smiled and looked at me.
“It’s not a trick and it’s not complicated. Why must you know what’s happened? Why must you know who I am?”
“Well, so I know what I should do”
“What do you mean? You know what you should do. You’ll talk to me won’t you?”
I couldn’t argue with that.
“So you know what you must do then?”
“I suppose I don’t know what I should do next”
“Look. You think too hard. What does this feel like?” She pulled me to her and kissed me tenderly on the lips.
“Good.” It felt amazing.
“Right. And what about this?”
She slapped me across the face. My cheek stung. I didn’t speak, couldn’t.
I’d angered her. She slapped me harder across my other cheek.
“Not good!” I said. It hurt.
“Have I done something to you?”
With desperation, I racked my mind for a picture of who I could have enraged this much. I came up blank.
Suddenly, her voice sounded calm.
“No. No. It’s OK. Don’t force your memory — it’s not like that. And I’m sorry I hurt you.”
I composed myself.
“Well, it’s not that I’m hurt, just a bit shocked.”
“That’s OK. You need to be shocked sometimes. But we’ve made progress!”
“Yes we have. But don’t look so worried.”
“OK. I’ll try.”
“Thank you. But I worry you, don’t I? Honestly?” Her eyes peered into my mind with piercing intensity.
“Honestly? Yes you do.”
“So…”, I said. I tried to get some control. “Your job is that you make me worried?”
“Not at all!”, she said with a smile.
“I don’t have a job at all. And if you’re tortured, it’s nothing to do with me! But you’re still confused, aren’t you?”
“Well. I won’t change that. Well not completely. But I can clear up some things.”
She hadn’t done much of that so far.
“We’ll try the easiest question yet. How do you feel about me?”
“You confuse me. But you are intriguing. I’m sure I said that before.”
“Of course I am. But you could be straighter with me!”
The situation hadn’t improved.
She put an arm round my shoulder. She stretched out a perfectly formed leg, very deliberately right in my eyeline.
“Let’s try again. How do you feel about me. Tell me honestly.”
I looked in her eyes.
“Well it’s that you confuse me because I find you really attractive and yet I don’t know who you are.”
“Well of course you find me attractive. And as I have told you, you don’t need my name.”
I’d made no progress down the road to greater knowledge.
“OK. Let me try a simple question”, I said. I must have showed frustration. “If I ask you a straight question, will you give me a straight answer?”
“Yes. I promise”
She seemed to mean it.
“Why are you here and why do you look like this?”
She took a deep breath.
“If it doesn’t sound too circular — I look like this because you like me this way. I could look different in many ways, but this will only work if you are attracted to me.”
“So your aim is that you entrap me?”
“No. Not at all. This relationship wouldn’t work with all that deception.”
“We are in a relationship?”
“Yes. Of course we are.”
“Then how come I don’t remember you?”
“You don’t remember me because you took me for granted. You used me. You didn’t acknowledge that I existed.”
“You don’t seem angry.”
“Because I’m not. We’ve done wonderful things together. We’ll do more wonderful things together. So why should I be angry?”
I felt resigned. I’d learned little.
“What would you have me do?”
“I’d have you do what you’d like. But I’d like it if we went somewhere warmer. It’s cold out here.”
Something crossed my mind.
“You have rather physical needs for someone who’s only in my head.”
She smiled a rueful smile.
“You oversimplify. You over-think. So please stop it! Will you do that?”
“Yes, I’ll try.”
She must have noted my lack of commitment.
“Yes. I suppose it’s the best that I can hope for, for now. Let’s go to my place.”
We went to her place. I have no idea how I’d get there again.
“Come and lie here with me!”
“OK…” I lay on the bed across from her.
“Are you comfortable?”
I couldn’t deny it.
“And you trust me?”
“Well I don’t understand you. But honestly…”
“I do trust you. I have no idea why. But I do.”
She seemed pleased.
“Yes, I’m really glad. But there’s one thing we you and I must be sure of”
“Now as we mentioned earlier, you find me attractive. And although I didn’t say so back then, I find you attractive too. It’s one of the reasons that we’re together. And I know we are in a bedroom. But we’re just here because it’s warm and comfortable. We’re not here so that we can sleep together.”
Suddenly words came to me.
“I know. We must talk about bigger things.”
I felt nervous but I knew that I must tell her:
“I love you.”
She put an arm around me.
She kissed me gently on the lips.
“And I love you too.”
She gave me a hug and then rolled away. She propped herself up. She faced me.
“Now — where are we?”
“Well…”, I said, and collected my thoughts, “Why are we here now? Why this conversation now?”
“We got there in the end!”
“Now as I said — you took me for granted…”
For some reason I felt guilt.
“I’m sorry…” I started.
She took my hand.
“You are sweet. Don’t worry. I don’t take it personally. If you hold off the questions for a minute, I’ll explain the whole thing.”
“The thing is — it isn’t a problem for me if you don’t acknowledge that I exist. But I think it makes your life harder. The reason you do it is you over-think, and you won’t understand me by reason.”
It made sense somehow.
“Well you’ve made my head hurt”
“No, silly. You’ve made your head hurt. You’re head hurts because you’re at work on who I am. And you could give me a name, like your muse or something, but it wouldn’t help you, because then you’d spend your whole time as you worked out which properties I have and how you could control me. And don’t worry about it, because you can’t control me! But I can help you. I’ve helped you in the past. And I could help you more in the future, if you let me.”
She went on.
“But you have to love me and you have to trust me. And if you do, then there’s nothing we can’t do together. Now we’re both really tired. But luckily, we’re on a bed so we can go to sleep.”
I felt tired, but concern had a grip on me.
“When will I see you again?”
“I will always be with you. When you need me, I’ll be there. But please, just trust me more, OK?”
“I will. I promise.” I knew I’d answered right.
I held her close and stroked her hair until I drifted off into sleep.