I never look back


Harald Olausen

I had only seen him a couple of times in passing. For the first time last summer at an amusement park, when we happened to accidentally sit on a roller coaster in the same carriage, shouting and fearing as much.

For the second time, almost immediately after, at the swimming stadium, the men in the sauna rolled next to me for almost an hour without saying a word, before he ran his face red in the shower to cool off.

The third time I met him, when the rains were already taking over the gray in the station hall of a mall, and I hadn't paid him any more attention than the leaves that had fallen from the trees flying in the early fall, which I had to be careful not to slip into.

Maybe we lived, if at all, in a very different decade in very different genders and bodies than in this dream. So! I thought this was a dream before I woke up from it and realized that it was not a hint of something unreal about what is not there or the escape of reality caused by it.

And while the saying goes for the third time, it is only the fourth time that we got to know each other and we became good friends, as might have been the case. For that I am now confident, because we did not need any more unnecessary words to decorate the world. We became its embellishments, flickering and looking.

However, he thought the third time was the most decisive. Rarely, when we spoke quietly, he said he had only just begun to think about me and the fact that all these surprising two-way meetings could not be any passing coincidences. For the fourth time, I couldn't escape him anymore.

I had dreams about him and I started awake during the day to chat with him at the breakfast table until I realized I was talking to a fragile memory of him. I imagined what he would think at the same time about me. Where would he be and what would he be doing.

He was very special and could not be seen at a glance. How would he describe it now? He was a wonderful sight. But not ugly or disgusting but pleasant and eye-catching.

As if seeing him, there was a place left in his mouth for dessert, which he began to expect afterwards, for he was in a class of his own; he was simply quite something other than any person I had met so far, the charm of his skinny, happy, and soft face attracting me.

I nodded at him shyly in my head and tried to avoid just looking too eager even though my heart took a few extra and fierce beats in the center of his attention as I shook so that my hands weren't getting the tray lifted off the counter.

I was dizzy from my head and the world spun so that I felt shaky on its edge ready to drop down the cliff from his next gaze. I ordered my usual dose; two green brewed cactus teas with honey, a cheese bun, and green moths and I tried to sneak in complete silence into the back corner of the cafe.

In vain. He had decided otherwise and signaled me to come to his table with such certainty and determination that I was left with no choice but to swallow once the excitement and accept his commanding but kind and benevolent curious smiling invitation to sit across from him at the table.

I don't remember what he said to me then or did he say anything at all. Were we talking about something? I do not think. I think we sat for a long time looking at each other. At least I stared, almost dumbfounded at his peculiar nature, which was not annoyingly disturbing or deliberately distracting, but a typical and mundane combination for him other than poems in time and place that existed except in himself as in front of this short unique moment.

And when I looked at him as a reflection or a moment of a powerfully flickering Christmas tree decoration disappearing and appearing in my eyes at the same moment he so wanted as a spell or magic that opened my blind eyes to see a hidden peacock inside him opening and closing his enchanting tail just for me the few miraculous seconds he needed to charm me and wrap me like a toddler as easily around his magical little one.

I remember that moment at the end of my life. I sat quietly almost motionless in my seats. I was wearing a hooded suit. But what did he have? I don't remember that. I just remember the jet of color spinning in front of my eyes.

He had a name, too. And when he uttered it, it sounded like he had owned half the world, even though I realized the impression was intentionally comical, similar to if a waitress had asked in French if we take frog legs or windbreaks from the list and dessert as a drink of dishwater. He asked if I would like to go somewhere.

I was amazed. "Where?" That's not what he said. He just spun his little head supposedly amused, smiling. "Well there?" He tried to make me realize that his home though didn't say his tact otherwise.

I replied that I did not really know. "Why?" He asked. Because I had a laundry and cleaning day today and it was difficult to get laundry shifts from the condominium. I think that was a good argument. At least it should go full but not him.

"You might as well take your laundry with me and wash it with it." After all? I knew what he meant and I didn't really warm up to the thought. His magic began to lose its power and I began to hesitate. He noticed it as he seemed to see closely through me and replied that he had time to wait, even tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow, if that were the case.

I looked at him now with different eyes and he at me. He seemed to think that wouldn't happen but I would start to feel guilty for not grasping the offer of my life. The guy was everything I had dreamed of all my life and had seen a wet nap. Maybe even just him? He seemed to know it as if he had read my thoughts.

My phone beeped. I've set it up to alert an hour before washing shifts. The distance to my apartment was a few miles. What should I do? The next laundry shift would be possible in two weeks at the earliest.

He looked at me while drumming the table with his fingers as a sign of the passage of time. "I live right next door on the top floor. You can come and visit again sometime. I'll give you the address and door code for the front door. Tap the door three times and I will open for you. Will you come with me now or later? "He asked but began to get bored. I rubbed my eyes as if free from the magic or spell he had certainly put on me a moment earlier.

"What type," I said to myself, and there was no word in my mind that flattered him this time. Eventually I started to get enough of him, for he was just re-sharing this one and the same boring thing: was I willing to leave for his apartment or not? It finally became clear to him when I got off the table and didn't look behind me. I never look back. And that is what has saved me from the many harms that such sudden whims bring.