Our bodies brushed together. I was getting closer and closer. For a while I remembered what it’s like to be young and scared and to want so badly to give yourself away, because you don’t know what to with all that’s been given to you.
You do it with your eyes shut and your mind on fire and a burning desire to never get yourself back. Not the way you were, anyway. So there I was again, trying to negotiate a new, changed self with a man, since God, whom I’d made a kind of business partner at that point—‘I’ll be a good girl, just make this and that come true’—seemed to have run out of options for me.
His grip tightened as minutes and strangers passed. His body was warm, his breath smelled of alcohol and mint, and his skin of strong cologne. His eyes moved up and down my body, or as much of it as he could make out. ‘Let’s go outside,’ he whispered in my ear.
I followed him. It was grey, almost dark, and it had started raining again. I liked the cold, refreshing wind and the sound of the cars driving on the wet streets. Someone offered me something to drink, but I declined and found my way to him. He was waiting for me with a pack of cigarettes in his hand, and I accepted one with a smile.
‘My name is Mel,’ I said. ‘Just Mel.’
‘Nobody’s name is just something,’ he replied.
Way to go, just Mel. You pick the best ones.
‘Mel, you weren’t flirting with me earlier like I thought you were.’
I, too, was surprised to hear that.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he said, a little disappointed.
‘Oh. Then what did I do?’
He was right, to some extent. I liked to put myself in strange situations and see what I’d do next—like direct and star in a movie about, well, your girl here. ‘What’s behind that door?’ I’d ask myself in the mirror, and my reflection would say, ‘Why don’t you find out?’ and then I’d get up, get ready, and get excited. But that shouldn’t be visible to others. I started nervously balancing on one foot.
Sometimes I am all pieces, collected from here and there, from friends and lovers, and sometimes from strangers. They don’t always make much sense together, and I end up with more questions than answers. But that doesn’t stop my curiosity for long. I’m always looking for more bricks to add to being just Mel, in the perhaps naive hope that one day I’ll introduce myself differently to the world.
‘Are you ok?’
My senses had been out of tune for a few moments—of course.
‘I am. Tell me, what did you think I was doing in there?’
‘I have no idea. You looked like you had too much to drink. I don’t think you had any idea, either.’
I nodded. There was no point in explaining. I made a mental note to be more careful. I was, as usual, too transparent.
‘Just Mel,’ he said with a smile. ‘I’m sorry. Maybe we can start again?’
I took a step back, then one forward again, and held out my hand. As I considered what to say, I saw saw what his face looked like with a smile on. The second mental note I made to myself was something like, ‘Remember you like this’.
‘Still just Mel,’ came out almost instantly, and then I couldn’t hold back the laughter for long.
‘Just Mel is just fine,’ he said.
He took my hand and, oh…
But this is a story to be continued.