My existence seemed like a dream now; I didn't care about anything but my memory and just sort of floated from one thing to the next without really noticing anything going on around me. My appetite vanished with my frenetic search for information about Daniel. I thought of Hong Kong but some of the details I had recalled the other night were now escaping my recollection.
The weather was perfect lately, sunny and warm but not overbearing and sometimes in the evening it would rain causing that glorious smell to fill the air. Such weather meant that business was good not that I cared or noticed. I had been given until Saturday to have my performance in the company judged. I had four days to get my proverbial butt into gear; four nights of performances that the company would withhold their scrutiny and consider mere practices for my upcoming evaluation.
Given a rare break from rehearsals and denied access to the computer for research I sat out on the front steps in my dazed state. I half enjoyed the strange sensation, partially hated not having control over all of my senses. The previous night’s search for someone named Daniel in Hong Kong had been fruitless. My thoughts churned my brain into mush. In that moment concentrating on any one thing would have been too much for it.
What I assumed was one of the older girls came and sat next to me. Her presence blended into the feeling of the sunlight on my face, the smell of the air and all other sensory input I received. I felt the small grit of dirt beneath my palm pressed against the cement of the stoop. Yet my surroundings spun around me like the turning of a kaleidoscope. Despite the shifting gravel brushing my gently kicking bare feet my body felt as light as my head.
I didn't notice who it was until she spoke to me, “I found this in the hall. Someone stepped on it". It was Jessica, the acrobat. She handed me the picture of my chubby elementary self. The subjects of the photograph were surrounded by luxurious greenery. "I remembered it was yours" a bit startled I took the picture and put it in my jacket pocket wrinkling the dirty remnant of a footprint on its surface. I never knew what the picture was of and had never really cared. I just knew it was of me.
Jessica looked at me waiting for some sort of acknowledgement. Something told me we used to be friends; when were younger maybe and both dancers. I think she was a little older than me, I still can’t remember. "Thanks", I said half heartedly.
"You know," Jessica started. I was sure I wouldn’t. "ever since, you've been really strange. Are you okay?" "Sure" I said, but I had no idea what she was alluding to. "Well even Mona has been concerned about you. She said she might come and talk with you". I wasn’t a new recruit so I didn’t understand why Mona was showing so much concern for me. I suppose she took her motherly duties to heart making sure all of the company’s girls were alright.
I tried to stop the setting from slowly swirling before my eyes and tune instead in on what Jessica was saying. She was turning to leave now, "okay" I whispered. An offering intended to incite her to stay. It worked; she turned to give me a concerned look.
“We used to be friends didn’t we?” I attempted to continue our conversation. “Yeah” She replied a subtle sweetness to her voice as she returned to her perch beside me. She was so close I could count the freckles on her shoulder; five, arranged in a triangle formation. I found the proximity jarring.
“What happened?” I tried harder to reach beyond my hazed state of perception to make contact with another human being. “I. . .I don’t know. You just got sad and I became an acrobat and well, people grow apart you know. ” I couldn’t remember anything about the slender young woman sitting next to me but her words felt sincere.
“We’re still friends, I mean we can be. We’re just not as close as we used to be. But ever since you came back you’ve been so distant.”
“What are you talking about? Ever since I came back from where?”
“You mean you don’t remember?”
My blank expression was answer enough and she continued, “We all had to have a physical. I can’t believe you don’t remember it was barely a few months ago. They bused the whole company down to some clinic in the city. They found something when you were getting checked out. Some sort of nervous system response thing, I can’t remember. We weren’t really talking and all that medical mumbo jumbo doesn’t really stick in my brain.
Anyway they wanted to do some tests. They said it could have been nothing but it also could be something really bad so better safe than sorry. You didn’t want to do it but the director’s made you. You had to go to some medical lab in the city and you were gone for like two days. Delany was pissed you missed a performance. You came back and didn’t say a word. You just got ready for rehearsal and you’ve been messing up routines and acting distant ever since.”
The world stopped spinning. Jessica’s story left me feeling cold and still. It was astounding that I hadn’t remembered something so recent. “You really don’t remember?” Jessica asked in disbelief. It was true. Not a detail she had accounted struck a chord of remembrance in me. Something was definitely wrong.
I felt the soft warmth of her hand resting on top of mine. “I’m sorry” she murmured. I wasn’t entirely sure why she was apologizing but I had to agree it seemed the right thing to say. Sorry that I had lost all my memories. Sorry that I was on the brink of being kicked out of the only home I’d ever known. Sorry that there was something vitally wrong with me and I had no clue what to do about it. Sorry that our friendship had dwindled into failure.
In regret we sat silently for a while. Our hands touching as friends might do. These revelations weighed down on me heavy and stifling. The air between us seemed to be growing heavier and heavier making each breath more labored. Overwhelmed I realized that I couldn’t do anything about the mystery of my past. Being evicted from the company was the least of my worries. I had to find Daniel. I had to make sure that he was safe.
The slight pressure atop my hand had released. Jessica now stood well over five feet atop the front steps to the complex. “Jessica” I called. Uttering the name felt strange, as if taking liberties with an acquaintance. She looked down at me expectantly.
“Do you remember when we performed in Hong Kong?”
“Sure, that was an awesome tour, before I was an acrobat of course but still fun. Why do you ask?”
“I knew a boy there named Daniel. I’ve been trying to get in touch with him but I’m not having much luck. Do you remember him?”
“Oh yeah, I remember him. He was your Chinese fling. You guys were cute together. He’s actually the person who got me into acrobatics.”
“Well he was a performer too, part of a Chinese acrobatic troupe. We were performing at the same theater that’s how you guys met. When we watched his show I was really captivated by it and when we got back home I started training.”
“You wouldn’t remember his last name would you?”
“Oh no, I mean Daniel wasn’t even his real name. His given name was something Chinese we couldn’t pronounce. Daniel was just the western name he’d assumed for when they traveled outside of Asia. I remember the name of his troupe though. “
I raised my eyebrows in expectation. Any bit of identifying information about him could help. “The Flying Dragons I’m almost positive.”
“Any time. Really, we can talk.”
“Did he like me?” I exhaled the query into the atmosphere feebly, only half expecting to receive an answer. Jessica’s hand was poised over the card reader to the front door.
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t.” She shot a reassuring smile past the wavy light brown strands of hair precariously poised over her right eyebrow before vanishing behind the doors. The swirling Kaleidoscope of my senses returned with Jessica’s exit. I let the thoughts induced by our conversation roll right through my mind until they landed in a dark place.