Pretending to be me.
You worked in that video store beside the Cressie Stairs. A grey shop, a belly-flop of unordered Betamax tapes and dust that made me sneeze. Bless you. It was your dad’s idea you said, but he doesn’t know nothing. You chewed gum and leaned over the counter. Slightly American twang in the way you said if you want to pick something, it’s two for one, if I like it. You with faded denim and wicked laugh. The only thing worth watching was horrors, of course, but you had to nudge me in the right direction. An older woman, keeping me right. Corpse diem.
I’d a lot of catching up to do. Drink, a prickly immersion, like a letter to Santa stuffed up your nose. A list of wants. Violent and tender and hopeful. At last you guessed what I wanted most.
Not sleeping. Drinking and falling down. From the start you had a talent and a house full of ghosts. My hands were full but you drifted through me. You were something; all I had to do was stay close enough to find out what. You drifted apart. Then you disappeared, suddenly.
Fuck. You ended up with the fanny licker. An older man that liked to shine your eyes. Punch drunk, you aged into him. You pushed a pram. Double-buggies, holding your kid’s hands and not meeting anyone’s eyes. Hypnotised by the fuck-up of your life. I’d pass you sometimes, but you didn’t know me. I felt a wee bit closer to you then.
I disappeared too. We met outside the Co-op one day when it started snowing. I was going in for bread and you’d a striped top on and no coat, as if you didn’t care. You waited for me outside. You talked on and on like a drum machine and our pasts mixed and matched, dancing in front and behind us. I listened and smiled my sad little smile. You grabbed my arm. We could get a cup of tea and roll is sausage in the Café.
I’d a checklist of things to do. I rolled them out. One after another and shuffled my feet. No longer dancing. You smiled too. That wicked laugh, and grabbed my arm, dragging me away from myself, towards the Café. It was the first time I’d been touched in years.