The Opportunist
Author:Tarryn Fisher

While I spy on him through the slats in the shelves I use a finger to scrub at the smudged mascara beneath my eyes. I have to make running into him look accidental.

 

In front of me, there is a bong in the shape of Bob Marley’s head. I look into Bob’s glass eyes and practice a surprised face. I am disgusted by the levels to which I stoop. Pinching my cheeks for color, I step out from my hiding place.

 

Here goes everything.

 

My heels bite into the linoleum, snapping loudly as I make my approach. I might as well have hired a trumpeter to announce my arrival. Surprisingly, he doesn’t look up. The air conditioner clicks on when I am a few yards away. Someone has tied lime green streamers to the vents. As they begin to dance, I smell something-it is Caleb’s smell, peppermints and oranges.

 

I am close enough to see the scar that curves itself gently around his right eye—the one I used to trace with my finger. His presence in a room is like a jarring physical impact. To prove this, I see women—old and young shooting him looks, bending toward him. The whole world bends for Caleb Drake and he is charmingly unaware of it. It is truly disgusting to watch.

 

I sidle up next to him and reach for a CD. Caleb, oblivious to my presence moves down the alphabetized line of artists. I trace his steps and just as I move a few feet behind him,—his body turns in my direction. I freeze and there is a brief second when I have the urge to run. I grind my heels down and watch as his eyes trace my face like he’s never seen it before, and land on the plastic square in my hand. And then, after three long years, I hear his voice.

 

“Are they any good?”

 

I feel the shock rush from my heart to my limbs and settle like lead in my stomach.

 

He still speaks with the same diluted British accent I remember, but the hardness I was expecting to hear isn't there. Something is wrong.

 

“Ummm…"

 

He looks back at my face and his eyes touch each of my features as if he’s seeing them for the first time.

 

“I’m sorry? I didn’t catch that."

 

Shit, shit, shit.

 

“Err, they are okay,” I say, shoving the CD back on the rack. Seconds of silence flick by. I decide he is waiting for me to speak.

 

“They’re not really your style.”

 

He looks confused.

 

“They’re not my style?”

 

I nod.

 

“What exactly do you think my style is?” His eyes are laughing at me and there is a hint of a smile around his mouth.

 

I run my eyes over his face looking for a clue to the game he is playing. He has always been so good at facial expressions, always the right one at the right time. He looks placid and only remotely interested in my answer. I feel safe so I say, “Umm, you’re a classic rock kind of guy…but I could be wrong.” People change.

 

“Classic rock?” he repeats, watching my lips. I shiver involuntarily as a memory of him looking at my lips that way comes rushing back to me. Wasn’t that look how it all started?

 

“I’m sorry,” he says dropping his eyes to the floor. “This is awkward, but I…uhhh…don’t know what my style is. I have no memory of it.”

 

I gape at him. Was this some type of sick joke? Some way of getting back at me?

 

“You don’t remember? How could you not remember?”

 

Caleb runs his hand across the back of his neck, the muscles in his arms flex. “I lost my memory in an accident. Sounds corny I know. But, the truth is—I have no idea what I like or liked, I guess I should say. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”

 

He turns to leave, probably because my face is so full of shock it makes him uncomfortable. It feels as if someone has taken a potato masher to my brain. Nothing makes sense. Nothing fits together. Caleb doesn’t know who I am. Caleb doesn’t know who I am! With every step, he takes toward the door I become more desperate. Somewhere in my head I hear a voice scream, “Stop him!”

 

“Wait,” I say. My voice is barely audible. “Wait…wait!” this time I scream and several people turn to stare. Shutting them out, I focus on Caleb’s back. He is almost to the door when he turns to face me. Think fast, think fast! Holding up a finger indicating for him to wait where he is, I set off in a trot for the classic rock section. It only takes a minute to find what used to be his favorite CD. I return with it clutched tightly in my hands, stopping a few feet away from where he is standing.

 

“You’ll like this,” I say, tossing him the copy. My aim is off, but he catches it with grace and smiles almost sadly.

 

I watch him walk to the register, sign his credit card receipt, and disappear right back out of my life.

 

Hello—Goodbye.

 

 

Why didn’t I tell him who I am? Now it is too late and the moment for honesty has past. I stay rooted in his wake, my heart beating sluggishly in my chest as I try to process what has happened. He forgot me.