A Face in the Crowd

Do I smell popcorn?

The muscles in my eyelids sputter a few flickers as my I search with my nostrils for the aroma of the lightly buttered snack that brings me back to those times when I would spend money at cinemas.

The cracks and pops are making the emptiness beneath my winkled abdomen sing a ballad that brings me back to the times when I could hardly walk while looking up to see the Cookie Monster on television.

I can hardly keep my balance as two eyelid contractions jerk me forward and the snack that I used to love, before the doctor said I shouldn’t eat it anymore, is really just the friction of my knees as they sway to keep my lumbering body upright.

A light is shining in my eyes and while pushing to keep them open a puddled memory splashes into my consciousness.

Is that sweat dripping down my forehead?

The heat brings me back to that time when I did that one thing for a while with those people whose names I can’t remember, in that city that was hot all the time.

The redness of the light as it pierces through my closed eyelids bursts in a temporary dam of whites and yellows and in moments the blurriness evaporates into semi-clearness.

I scratch the top of my smooth hairless scalp in search of any traces of my youth, hoping that maybe one or two relics still remain.

My vision has started to amplify and for a brief second I feel startled as a face that slightly looks familiar appears from what originally seemed like a shiny laberinth of nothing.

The dilation in my pupils and half-opened jaw of ivory-white dentures give the other person a frightened stare that matches mine.

I tell myself that the face isn’t there, that it’s just my imagination. The saggy eyelids, chapped-lips, and off-white cheeks aren’t real. I force the coughing wheel of memories in search of something that still makes me happy. How about the first time I fell in love?

I start tracing back, to before my marriage, to before my bad back, to before the times when my knees warmed-up like of crackles and pops of cereal.

I’m pretty sure she had curly brown hair. Her name escapes me but perhaps if I keep focusing on her it will float to the surface of my internal picture safe. She was a singer right? Or maybe a dancer? I honestly can’t recall and I soon open my eyes in gasping need for mental oxygen.

The face.

Pale, haggard, like a ghost that’s been summoned to haunt my sight.

Maybe it’s the reaper that’s come to finally take me. Darn it looks familiar. It looks like a withered lion in some mapless savannah that’s been accidentally caught on a documentary reel.

I feel like it’s judging me. Maybe it knows all the promises I’ve made, all the aspirations I think I had, and all of the things my former Facebook account used to send me notifications about. Does it know of all the things I said I’d do, or words that I thought were true?

My brain starts flipping through a floating glossary of people of who the face could be. It couldn’t be that guy, he’s dead. It couldn’t be that other person, because I haven’t heard from him in years. Who’s still keeps in touch? Who’s still breathing? Who even remembers that I’m still here.

I’m trying as hard as possible to focus on the face. It’s doesn’t recognize me either, and I want to reach out to touch it but maybe it will run away if I try.

This person must be lost.

It reminds me of when I spent all those years trying to figure my life out, trying to find a purpose, and trying to find my way.

All those years, all those decades.

I feel slightly sorry for the face, I sense a silent look of desperation in it’s wrinkled complexion. I try to make a small smile and for some reason this unknown person let’s his guard down and greets me with a similar touch of warmth.

That feeling. It reminds me of something, but for now I can’t remember.

I blink to erase the face. I’m too old and don’t have the patience for this anymore, surely there was something I was supposed to be doing.

Chop chop, face, get a move on.

I blink again and it’s still there.

Pop, pop, pop. Crack, pop, crack.

I sway from left to right.

Two hard blinks and one slow blink.

My vision seems back to normal again.

Looking down, I remember why I’m standing here.

Grabbing for the tube of Crest,

the plastic bristles don’t tickle my gums or arches of ivory-white

as I start brushing my teeth.

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