“Remember when we used to be in love?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

“Oh, come on,” she said, punching me in the shoulder. “I’m being serious.”

“So am I. I really don’t.” And I really didn’t. The accident had stolen most of my memories. I could recall running in a field of grass, and I must have been a tiny child because the world seemed so big. Though, for all I knew, that memory could have been a false one. The doctors had said that was natural, like the brain sought to fill the gaps with something, anything, to form a kind of scaffold on which to rebuild reality.

She saw that I was, in fact, being serious. She scowled. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to remember, or that I was playing a game with her. I really had no recollection of our ever being romantically involved. Not a moment’s sadness clouded her beautiful features, though. She wasn’t about to let my disability stop her.

“In that case, maybe I could tell you a story about it. Maybe then you might remember?”

I’d been listening to stories about my supposed past for the last few weeks, and nothing had rung any bells. The memory of the field had been there when I’d woken up; a single wet slide in a projector’s carousel filled with blanks. I smiled what felt like a wan and half-assed smile and nodded anyway. It wouldn’t do to dampen her hope for my recovery.

“Good. It was a rainy night in July when we first met. I was coming home from a cooking class, something I’d decided to take on a lark. I’d been shamed a few months before by some of the other women in the office for admitting that I couldn’t cook worth a damn, and one of the more sympathetic ladies had given me the name and number of this cooking instructor. Harold was his name, a fat man with many years of professional experience in kitchens all over the world. He’d retired by then, and was filling his evening hours sharing his craft with whomever could afford the tuition fee.

“I remember that night I’d learned the basics of preparing a duck à l’orange, and I’d been going over the ingredients in my head. Coriander, cumin, marjoram. I’d been completely absorbed in the recipe when I ran straight into you, standing there at the number seven bus stop outside of Lendall’s. You’d managed to drop all your papers into the gutter, and I was so embarrassed. And you asked me to coffee.”

It was a nice story. I remembered doing none of it, and for all I knew that was the first time I’d ever heard it. It was frustrating, and she sensed that. She patted my hand and smiled. I looked at her and thought: I could be in love with this woman, yes. If only I knew who she was.

“I must go. I’ll be back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you more.” She stood up and brushed the front of her skirt down with wrinkled hands that belied the youthful look of her face.

“Wait,” I said.

“Yes?” she asked, shouldering her purse.

“What’s your name?”

2014.09.05 – 2023.05.01

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