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 wanting 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. There I was again, trying to negotiate a new, changed self with a man, since God, whom I had, at that point, turned into some sort of business partner – ‘I’ll be a good girl, just make this and that come true’ – seemed to have run out.
His grip got tighter as the minutes and strangers passed by. 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 however much he could make out of it. ‘Let’s go outside,’ he whispered in my ear.
I followed. It was grey, almost dark, and it had started to rain again. I liked the cold, refreshing wind and the sound of cars driving on wet streets. Somebody offered me a drink, but I refused and found my way to him. He was waiting for me with a pack of cigarettes in his hand. I told him my name and accepted one with a smile.
“It’s Mel,” I said. “Just Mel.”
“No one’s name is just something,” he said back.
Nice job, just Mel. You picked the greatest one.
“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, vaguely disappointed.
“Oh. What was I doing then?”
He was right, to some extent. I liked putting myself in strange situations and seeing what I do next, like directing and acting in a film about – yes, that’s right – your girl here. ‘What’s behind that door?’ I ask myself in the mirror, and my reflection goes, ‘Why don’t you find out?’ And then I get up, get ready, and get excited. But that shouldn’t be visible to others.
I started balancing on one foot, nervously. Sometimes I am all pieces, collected from here and there, and friends and lovers, and sometimes strangers too. They don’t always make much sense together, and I’m left with more questions than answers. But that doesn’t stop my curiosity for long.
I am 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 alright?”
My senses had been out of tune for a good few moments – of course.
“I am. Tell me, what did you think I was doing inside?”
“I have no idea. You look like you’ve 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 ever, too transparent.
“Just Mel,” he said smiling. “I’m sorry. Maybe we can start again?”
I took a step back, then one forward again, and put my hand out. As I thought of what to say, I saw what his face looked like with a smile on. The second mental note I made went something like, ‘Remember that you like this.’
“Still just Mel,” came out almost instantly.
I tried to contain myself, but couldn’t help the stifled laughter for long.
“Just Mel is just fine,” he said, trying to hide his too.
He took my hand and, oh…
But that’s a story to be continued.