I follow him into the building, until we stop in front of a door. He turns to me to explain:
"We used to live here".
I nod, even though I don't remember it. I wish I could remember it. I wish I knew the memories that seem to flash across his mind as his eyes sparkle my way. They seem to be happy memories. He smiles the moment he starts talking about the life we had, and about the love we shared. It must have been quite something. He unlocks the door and pushes it open. I follow him inside and slowly take in my surroundings. He looks at me expectantly, hoping it triggers something that will make everything come back to me. It doesn't. I smile apologetically, and he returns it. He points at a picture of a beautiful woman and a cute little girl:
"Your daughter and her mother".
I bend forwards to have a good look:
"They are beautiful."
"Yeah, they are…"
I look around me again and then turn to him. He is staring at the kitchen and seems lost in thought. I have to say that even though I don't remember him, I feel attracted to him. His dark hair that seems so smooth and touchable. His matching dark eyes like pools of chocolate with little Christmas lights in them. His smile so radiant and bright, and so incredibly contagious. I find myself smiling every time he does.
He turns to me:
"Tell me about when we lived here?"
He shrugs, suddenly a bit shy:
"What do you want me to tell you?"
"Just anything. About us. A memory of us being here…"
I make a vague gesture to include the apartment we are standing in, and he takes a deep breath. He points at the couch in the middle of the room:
"One day I came home from work really late. I had to do some rostering and it took me longer than I expected. You had promised to wait up for me, but when I walked in you had lost the fight. The candles were lit, and you poured us both some wine. It was so romantic, and in the middle of all that you had fallen asleep on this couch. You looked to cute and perfect…"
That is where he stops. I smile shyly. Not sure whether to feel flattered by it or slightly embarrassed. But for some reason I don't want him to stop talking:
"So, what did you do…?"
He shrugs and for the first time I see him blush. He looks cute.
"At first, I thought I should let you sleep, but when I got to bed it was so empty and cold. So, I came back in here and kissed you on your cheek to wake you up. You only woke up a bit, enough to get you on your feet and shove you to the bed. The moment to lay down you were asleep again. And now I could curl up against you…"
His fingers thread through his hair, and I realise how much I would like to feel it against mine. I don't realise how my staring at his hair makes him uncomfortable, until he asks:
Dark red covers my cheeks and I shake my head:
"Common, tell me."
I bite my lip and hunch my shoulders a bit as I place my hand on my hips:
"What about my hair?"
"Did I… Did I… you know… like your hair."
He smiles so wide and perfect, I feel a bit less silly to have asked that question.
"Yes, you did. As a matter of fact, you have exclusive rights to mess it up and you used to make good use of that."
I take a few insecure steps towards him and decide to throw caution into the wind. He stands very still as my hand slowly reaches out. He closes his eyes and leans into the touch, as I let my fingers pull through it. It feels soft and so perfect. I look at his handsome face and feel a stir in my stomach.
I let go of him and he opens his eyes. Neither of us speaks and the tension seems to fill the room to the brim. I still don't remember anything. I don't remember moments, I don't remember things we did or things we said. But somehow touching his hair felt familiar. It felt like something I do, something that is right for me to do. He bites his lip and I see his eyes are glistening with tears. He blinks a few times and clears his throat:
His voice sounds hoarse and he takes a deep breath to start again:
"Promise me you will keep trying."
"Trying to remember…. Trying to remember… us…"
The last little word is nothing more than a whisper, but it seems to hold a whole world.
We seem to spend a lot of time together. I like being with him. I like talking to him and listening to him. It has a familiarity I cannot explain. We go to places he tells me we used to go to. He introduces me to people I should know, but I don't. He smooths over awkward conversations and tells me to just keep trying. So that is what I do.
I pick him up from work. The moment he climbs in the car, he says apologetically:
"I'm sorry, I need to go past my house to change."
I look at his coffee stained shirt and nod. He sighs:
I shake my head;
"No, don't worry. Just tell me how to drive to get to your place."
Five minutes later I park the car and we seem unsure what to do. Should I go in with him or wait in the car? He fidgets with the door handle and suddenly turns to me:
"You can come up if you want to?"
I nod, even though I am not sure whether I want to. Soon I walk into his apartment and he gestures at his fridge:
"If you're hungry or thirsty there is enough in the fridge, just help yourself."
I find myself a bottle of water. Not because I am thirsty, but it gives me something to hold. I look around me and realise I like it here. It smells nice. It feels familiar in so many ways. My eyes seem to lock onto a little tin, next to his TV. I frown and walk over to it, not sure why this tin seems to important. I pick it up and try not to get annoyed with myself for thinking this tin means something, and at the same time not knowing what.
His voice startles me, and I turn around as if I have been caught doing something I should not be doing. He looks at the tin I still hold in my hand and then looks at me:
I shake my head, wishing I did not have to disappoint him.
"Why did you pick it up?"
"It seemed important somehow."
He is in front of me now and reaches out to take it from me:
He places it back next to the TV.
"So, tell me…"
His fingers slowly trace the pattern on the tin, and he softly explains:
"It is my resolution tin. I put my new year resolutions in it and at the end of the year I check them to see how I did."
I encourage him to continue:
"A nice tradition."
A soft smile covers his face:
"You seemed to think the same thing then."
"When you first saw it, and asked me what it was for."
I wish I could remember.
"Where were we when I saw it first?"
His face turns a bit pinkish when he says:
I really wish I could remember.
"So, then what."
"You insisted on reading my resolution from last year and it had to do with wanting to be with you. And then you kissed me. A proper kiss. Like you meant it."
He chuckles softly. I really, really wish I could remember. It sounds like a perfect moment, and I now deep down inside that it is somewhere in my mind. The tin triggered something. But for now, this will have to do. I look at him as he stares at the little tin. A few weeks ago, when he came to the pub and finally found me, he kissed me and I pushed him away. But just after my initial surprise and before my pushing him away, I remember a feeling of home. I sigh and realise I want to kiss him now. He looks up at me and says:
"Shall we go?"
I shake my head. He frowns at me and I realise I must explain myself.
"I want to stay here… and talk."
OK, that is a bit of a lie. I do want to talk, but I also want to kiss him more than anything. My eyes hook onto his as I mumble softly:
"Sonny… you said I liked touching your hair… so um… did I… did we… I mean… did I like kissing you?"
He laughs, and I feel a bit less uncomfortable. He moves a bit closer and leans in towards me:
"Yes, you did."
I like that answer. It sounds right to me. He is so close now, as if he is inviting me to go for it. I don't hesitate. I press a soft kiss against his lips and let it linger for a moment. When I pull back he still has his eyes closed and I feel a stir in my stomach. He blinks at me and smiles softly:
I nod and answer:
"Perfect is the word."
His eyes grow large and he gasps:
I shake my head, not sure why he is suddenly like this.
"You said… what you just said… it just reminded me… you really don't remember?"
"I'm sorry, Sonny."
He leans in to kiss my cheek.
"No, I'm sorry, I don't mean to pressure you. It's just… after our first time… you know... we said that, exactly that."
Now I really, really, really wish I could remember.
"Was it… how was it… I mean, it sounds like it was good?"
He blushes, but answers nonetheless:
"It was exactly what we said… it was perfect."
My mum points at suitcases and boxes stored in the corner of one of the bedrooms.
"I kept all your stuff in there, honey."
I nod and ask:
"You don't mind me going through it, do you?"
"Of course not, if that is what you want to do, that is fine with me."
I kiss her cheek and she smiles at me:
"It is just so good to have you back."
I take a seat on one of the boxes and start working my way through. Not looking for anything in particular, but just to see if anything brings back a memory. I go through clothes and books, through old CDs and magazines. I find some old pictures with the people I remember from only the last couple of weeks, and decide to keep them. I hear my mum walk in and turn to look at her. She holds out something to me and I take it.
"Your wallet, I kept it with me…"
She doesn't explain why, but then, she doesn't have to.
I open it and find a debit card, a library card, and a supermarket points card. I look in another little pocket inside the wallet and pull out a dark red card. I turn it over to read the words 'coffee for life'. I stare at it and my mind seems to be in overdrive. I almost forget to breathe as everything seems to hit me. Three little words were all I needed.
We are in a coffee shop. He is holding a little card and I decide to fight him for it. My arms curve around his waist and he is so close to me, I can feel him breathe against me. I want this moment to last forever, because it feels so right. I want him to hold me until the world ends, until everything is alright. If it wasn't for my father walking in I might have held on to him until my heart would be so full it would burst, and he would know how much I love him.
I stand up and run past my mum, who shouts:
"What is the matter?"
I turn around and wave the card in the air:
"I remember, I remember."
I drive way too fast, but I have to see him. I park in two spaces, because I am too impatient and too distracted to do it properly. I know he is working from home today and I don't care that I am going to divert him from that. I need to talk to him. I need to tell him about that day when he gave me a coffee for life card and I realised I belonged in his arms as much as he belonged in mine. I don't knock on the door. I pounce on it. And I keep pouncing until he opens it with a frown on his handsome face.
I realise I am a bit out of breath.
"Will, what is the matter?"
He looks worried and I shake my head, as if to reassure him I am OK. I walk past him and the moment the door falls shut, I wave the card at him. He looks at it and then at me and I smile:
"You gave me this."
"And I pulled you close so I could grab it."
"And my dad has terrible timing."
We look at each other and then he slowly walks towards me:
"You really remember…"
I nod. His arms curve around me and I wrap mine around him. For just a moment we both hold on tight and I hear him sniffle against my shoulder. Before I know it, my hand is in his hair and I let my fingers play with the dark strands. I don't realise I am doing it, until he chuckles and whispers:
"See… you like playing with my hair."
And as we stand there I feel another rush coming over me and I see flashes of me playing with his hair. In the shower as he pressed his naked and wet body into mine. In front of the mirror, as we were getting ready for a date. In bed, as we curled up together and chatted about our day.
"I used to touch it all the time."
He nods against me and I pull back, so we can look at each other. His hair is a mess, and I know it is my fault. But for some reason it just makes me feel proud to know he is mine. My hands reach up and I cup his face. With my lips against his I whisper:
"Kiss me, so I can remember…"
He does. He kisses me slow and deep, until I run out of breath and feel weak in my knees. He kisses me until I see flashes of us kissing in the kitchen, on the couch, under a mistletoe, and at midnight on New Year's Eve. I lean into him and realise he has to hold me up. He whispers:
"Are you OK."
I nod. I am better than OK.
"It is just a bit overwhelming."
"All this… you know… remembering."
The last word is just a whisper. I let him hold me and lean into him, as I let the memories wash over me.
"Do you remember everything? I mean… what do you remember exactly…?"
I pull him so tight against me it much be painful for him. My lips are against his ear when I say the one little word that holds our whole world:
"Us… I remember us."