“Hi honey.” Cool-guy said into the phone. “I’ll be there in five minutes. Will you be ready? I want to check out those antique stores near your house.”
“Yup. I’m ready.” I opened my apartment door to let in some fresh, cool air. I didn’t want my boyfriend to melt the moment he stepped into the tropical temperatures I called home.
I checked my hair and makeup. Yeah fine. That gave me roughly four and a half minutes to work on my column before he showed. I sat at my desk and continued polishing my writing, sentence by sentence.
Good. The first sentence worked. Smooth. Clear. I moved to the next sentence. Nope. No flow. Ok. Make I am into I’m. Easy. What else? Ok. I could take out the word that. I always use too many that’s. I removed that that that’s always in the way. Ha.
Great. I was experiencing sentence flow. Excellent. I backed up to the previous sentence and read through both lines. Yes. They worked. Goodie. I moved on to the next sentence.
I heard Cool-guy walk in the front door. Um. Could I make this long sentence into two shorter sentences before he found me? Sure. I was a fast typist. I could do it. I could do it. I could do it. My fingers flew over the keys. Almost there. Almost there.
I heard him at my bedroom door. I turned to make eye contact while in the middle of typing the second sentence. I smiled up at him. Um. It wasn’t Cool-guy standing there. What? Who? How? There was a stranger standing at my bedroom door. Watching me. It wasn’t my boyfriend. It was a stranger. Somebody I didn’t know. OHMYGOD! SOMEBODY WAS IN MY APARTMENT!
I screamed. My hands moved up to my mouth and I screamed again. A high-pitched scream. I wanted to throw something at him or demand that he leave or do something to protect myself. But. I couldn’t move.
Panic flooded my body. My heart raced. My adrenalin pumped. I had a seizure. A bird sitting in the air. It disappeared.
The man’s expression changed.
I tried to breathe. I screamed again. Sheer terror took over my body. I couldn’t think.
“Honey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Cool-guy said.
Ohmygod. Was that Cool-guy standing there? That was his voice. I waited a long, forever moment. Sure enough. As if it were some kind of a mean optical illusion, the man at the door slowly faded into the man I was expecting. Yes. It was my boyfriend standing there.
He knew I didn’t have a visual memory. That my visual hallucination seizures had burned it out long ago. That I had zero recollection of people’s faces. But. I had spent most of the past three months hiding my disability from him, hoping it wouldn’t be an issue. Sure it had cropped up in little ways. Only. Now. This time. Today. This was no mistake. I didn’t know it was him. I didn’t recognize my boyfriend. I didn’t know it was him.
“Didn’t you hear me come in?” He asked.
“No.” I lied. My voice was quivering. “I didn’t hear you.”
He thought he’d startled me. But. He didn’t. I didn’t know it was him. I didn’t recognize him. I didn’t recognize my own boyfriend. Ohmygod. He would figure that out in a minute or two. I had to relax so I wouldn’t have another seizure. My body was still in total terror mode.
I got up and kissed him lightly. “Hi baby, baby, baby.”
“Anyone could walk in here. Since when do you leave your door open?” He asked.
I smiled. “It was hot. I didn’t want you to experience an arrival meltdown.”
“Ready to go?” He asked. “I want to hit the streets before the antique shops close.”
I could hardly think straight. “Um. Let’s sit for a minute.” I had to calm down and stop the adrenalin rush. I had another seizure. A white circle low to the ground. It disappeared quickly. “Want a drink?”
“No. Let’s get going.”
“In a minute.” I teased, moving into the kitchen. “I think I’ll have a drink. You’re not a very good guest, are you?”
I poured myself a glass of apple juice. Carbo loading might help right now. I drank it quickly and poured another.
He sat in my purple easy chair. I sat next to him on the ottoman.
“Can’t believe you didn’t hear me come in.” He laughed.
“You were pretty quiet, hmmm?”
“I have to remember that I can’t sneak up on you, Ms. Screamer.”
“Yeah.” I yawned. “Good idea.”
“You look tired. Did you write a lot today?”
“Um….I’m tired because I’ve had some seizures.”
He sat up. “You did? Just now? Why?”
“It’s the ‘Boo’ response. I can’t be startled. It is the biggest seizure starter for me.”
“I didn’t know that.” He said, quickly. “What else do I need to know? You never talk about the Epilepsy.”
My energy was dropping. The one time I can’t talk about the big E is after a seizure. That’s when people always become suddenly curious. I sighed. “I get tired after seizures.”
“Do you want to take a nap?”
“No. I’ll sleep it off tonight.”
“I feel really badly.” He said, rubbing my head. “You didn’t recognize me when I walked in there, right?”
He couldn’t hide the hurt in his eyes. His face was twisting around as he tried to come to terms with being a stranger. There was no suitable explanation especially since he’d insisted my lack of visual memory wasn’t an issue in our relationship.
“I was startled.” I lied, quietly.
He rubbed my cheek softly. “I’ll never understand this.” He said. “I mean. I understand it. But. I’ll never really understand it.”
I didn’t recognize my boyfriend. The man I find to be so incredibly handsome. The man I heard walk in. The man I expected to see when I turned my head. “I know.” I said, leaning in to him. “My lack of visual memory… I’ll never understand it either.”