Home > The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(2)

The Opportunist (Love Me with Lies #1)(2)
Tarryn Fisher

“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.

Chapter Two

At some point during the fifth grade, I watched a murder/mystery on television. The detective, who I had a ridiculous crush on, was named Follagyn Beville. A modern day Jack the Ripper was targeting prostitutes. Follagyn was hunting him down. He was interrogating an especially ratty looking hooker, with stringy blond hair that was stained black at the roots. She was curled up on a mustard yellow couch, her lips sucking greedily on a cigarette. “Wow, what a terrific actress!” I remember thinking. She should like, win an Emmy for being so pathetic. She held a rocks glass in her hand, and was taking quick, birdlike sips of whiskey. I watched her movements, hungry for the drama, memorizing everything she did. Later that night I filled a glass with ice and Pepsi. I took my drink back to the windowsill and lifted an imaginary cigarette to my lips.

“No one listens to me,” I whispered so that my breath frosted the glass. “This world—It’s cold.” I took a sip of Pepsi, making sure that I rattled the ice.

A decade and a half later and I still have my sense of the dramatic. The day after my run in with Caleb, hurricane Phoebe ripped through town and spared me from having to call in sick to work. I am in bed, my body curled possessively around a bottle of vodka.

Around midday, I roll out of bed and shuffle to the bathroom. There is still electricity despite the category three hurricane that is rattling my windows. I take advantage by running myself a bath. As I sit in the steaming water, I replay the whole thing in my mind for the millionth time. It all ends with, he forgot me.

My pug, Pickles, settles herself on my bathmat and watches me carefully. She is so ugly, I smile.

“Caleb, Caleb, Caleb,” I say it to see if it still sounds the same.

He used to have a weird habit of reversing people’s names when he heard them for the first time. I was Aivilo and he was Belac. I thought it was ridiculous, but eventually I found myself doing the same thing. It became a secret code that we used when gossiping.

And now he didn’t remember me. How could you forget someone you loved even if I did rip his heart to shreds? I pour some vodka into my bathwater. How was I ever going to get him out of my head now? I could make being depressed my full time job. That’s what country singers did. I could be a country singer. I belt out a couple verses of “Achey Breaky Heart” and take another swig.

I pull the chain to the plug with my toe and listen to the water gurgle into the drain. I dress and plod to the fridge, with the cheap liquor sloshing around in my empty belly. My emergency hurricane food supply consists of two bottles of ranch dressing, an onion, and a block of sharp cheddar cheese. I cut up the cheese and onions and toss them into a bowl pouring fat free ranch over the top. I put on the coffee pot and hit play on the stereo. In it was the same CD I had given to Caleb in the Music Mushroom. I drink a lot more vodka.

I wake up on the kitchen floor with my face pressed into a puddle of drool. In my fist is a picture of Caleb that has been ripped and taped back together. I feel pretty damn good even though there is a mild throbbing in my temples. I make a decision. Today I was going to start from scratch. I was going to forget what’s-his-name and buy healthy crap to eat and move on with my damn life. I clean up my drunken mess, pausing briefly to toss the torn and taped picture into the trash. Goodbye yesterday. I grab my purse and head to the nearest health food store.

The first thing that the healthy crap store does is puff patchouli scented air into my face. I scrunch up my nose and hold my breath until I pass the service desk where a girl my age is snapping gum and meditating behind a counter.

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