Our bodies brushed together. I was getting closer and closer, not because I wanted him but because I didn’t want myself. 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 eyes wide shut and a burning desire to never get yourself back. There I was again, trying to negotiate my peace of mind with a stranger – since God, who has, at this point, turned into some sort of business partner (‘I’ll be a good girl, just please make this and that come true’) seemed to have run out of it.
His grip got tighter as the minutes and our acquaintances passed by. His body was cold, his breath smelled of alcohol and mint and his skin, of cologne. My senses returned, either to make me aware of the danger this man could have been, or to tap me on the shoulder and encourage me to enjoy the moment. All I knew was that my mind stood still when I was in his arms, and so I felt free to laugh with my mouth, my eyes and my exhausted heart so loudly that I gave myself away. His eyes moved up and down my body again, then he pushed me away and walked out of the bar.
I followed him outside. It was grey and it started to drizzle, and I liked the wind and the sound of cars driving on the wet streets. Somebody offered me a drink. I did my best to find an excuse not to take it and made my way towards him, and told him my name. It was the simplest thought that crossed my mind, and maybe it could make everything else just as simple.
‘It’s Mel,’ I said, trying my best to look at peace with myself. ‘Just Mel.’
‘No one’s name is just something,’ he said in a deep, resonant voice that sent shivers down my back.
‘It just is.’
‘Let me guess, you’re such a disaster of a girl that you don’t even want to be known by your last name, in case someone you have fooled would like to find you one day.’
‘That’s not quite what I said.’
‘My point exactly,’ he laughed in my face. ‘So I can’t get your full name until I fix you, huh?’
He had big, green and quite friendly eyes, and the way he was looking at me was sort of
‘Mel, what do you want from me? You weren’t flirting with me earlier, like I thought you were.’
‘Even I thought I was at first,’ I admitted, unable to lie to one more person. ‘I guess I just want you to give me a few more bricks to add to being just Mel.’
I tried my best to sound funny, but I knew I did not. The look on his face changed and he took a moment or so to think of what to say next.
‘Well how in the world did you expect me to –’
‘By distracting me and showing me that there is more to life than this,’ I said in one breath, pointing at my own head.
I was hoping he was good at miracles.
To be fair, I expected this to be just another story. I wanted to turn left, then right, then right again and go further down to the nearest café or shopping centre to get a happy ending for my day. I wanted to feel alive for a little while, until it wore off and I had to go home and write again, tell a story and give it a nice turn at the end.
I didn’t bother to ask for his name, like I didn’t bother to tell him all of mine, because I wasn’t going to be who I am every day or on most nights. Tonight, Mel was going to be just Mel, the girl with beautiful eyes and a map she spilled water onto so she doesn’t know where to turn left and where to turn right, then right again, and where to go further down until she reaches her destination. Tonight, Mel was going to be the girl with beautiful eyes and a desire to go places, even if she was still standing still, talking to strangers and trying to figure out a way to break free.
But unlike most strangers, the green-eyed man wasn’t easy.
‘I’ve nothing to give you,’ he said. ‘You have to go out there and get your own pieces. Mine might not fit, and you’ll end up even more broken than before.’
‘How much worse do you think it can get? According to you I’m already a disaster.’
‘Of course you are, look at you. All pieces, random little things collected from here and there and them. What are you going to do if mine aren’t useful either? Keep them for better days? You either let go or get dragged. I won’t contribute to what it must feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. If only it would have made you stronger. You look exhausted.’
I started balancing on one foot, nervously.
‘But you’re in my story now,’ I shrugged. ‘I came here tonight to find something to help me fight the loneliness and predictability of real life. I came for inspiration. I chose you, now you have to give me fuel for life of some sort.’
He smiled at me. He had a friendly smile too.
‘Oh, you look genuinely disconcerted.’
‘I am,’ I said, confused. ‘You can’t be in my world and refuse to be a part of it. I’m living this with you and you’re not giving me much to live right now.’
‘Alright, Mel, if that’s how it works I’ll play along. You want something to help you make sense of all the pieces, don’t you?’
‘Yes, and that’s where you come…’
‘No. Stop taking breaths of life from your twisted imagination and turn them into your life story. If I’m part of it, this is where you let me do my thing. This is not how you live. Stop making people up, too,’ he winked at me, and I suddenly felt very vulnerable.
‘Then how do I live?’
‘Easily, Mel. There’s only one thing that can change these boring surroundings you always come to for refills.’
Gently, he touched my cheeks and my mind stood still again. It was like he wasn’t part of the place, part of the story, part of this world, my world. He didn’t feel like the rest.
My senses had been out of tune in my comfort zone – of course. I had been there and lived those things so many times before, that looking for new experiences that could put my wheels back into motion was like looking for the needle in the hay.
But somehow, I found him. I didn’t make him up. Even if everything else was only a projection of my mind, I knew for sure that he was the most real thing that happened to me in a while.
‘Live more! And get rid of everything here, this party is a bore and so are you when you start talking about yourself. It’s okay to be Just Mel, to be dizzy and distracted and lost, for as long as you don’t always make such a drama out of it. It’s intriguing, refreshing, beautiful, and it leaves you room to live more. Don’t be so easily defined, remember?’
‘How do you know…’
‘Because we’re in your mind, remember? Now go and live more than this, this is too old. Get out there. And make sure you don’t know where that is.’