Closed Curve

by Miriam English

I'm so sorry. I wish things could have turned out differently. I wish, I wish.

I miss you so. You pretended not to recognise me when I approached you at the shopping mall. I made it look casual, but I'd really been following you for days. I shouldn't have. I know now I was wrong to do so. We should have simply gone our separate ways, but I'd become, as they say, unhealthily obsessed with you. We'd known each other when we were young and back then my heart had soared when you were around. We'd made secret vows that we'd find our fortune and return to be together again... forever.

For a long time it looked like I'd be the one to make that fortune and return to rescue you. Alas, I fell sick and almost died. The experience left me weak and robbed my mind of the clarity it once held. But my love still burned as brightly as ever -- perhaps brighter now, in contrast to the darknesses that shadowed much of my mind since the illness.

It was on the television that I first heard of you again, looking as beautiful, as radiant, as ever. You had returned from international talks at the United Nations where you spearheaded a move to save Africa. Apparently you now owned a whole swathe of renewable energy companies.

I'd thought you would be pleased to see me. It wasn't the way I'd wanted. I'd wanted to be the one to rescue you, not to be the one needing rescue. It wasn't easy to find out where you lived now, but research was always one of my best talents. In your meteoric rise to fortune you'd forgotten, or perhaps buried, your origins. I went to the wealthy area you now lived in, and was trying to build up the courage to visit you and present myself, but went to the shopping mall to avoid the heat of the day while I procrastinated. Quite by accident we walked toward each other in the foot traffic inside the mall. My face must have lit up in joy and anticipation. But you passed me by, your eyes barely flicking over me. My elation went hollow and I was crushed. I stopped in the stream of people and turned to watch your back disappear into the throng. Then I saw my reflection in a shop window. I looked ragged and gaunt, sunken-eyed. My hair was grey, no longer red, the color bled out by the illness. Perhaps you hadn't recognised me.

After that I watched and followed. I didn't intend to at first. I was just trying build up the nerve to introduce myself. The longer I dragged it out the more nervous I became and the more I put it off. It took its toll on me. I couldn't work out why you hadn't sought me out. Bitterness started to take hold -- the shadows of my mind working to dampen the flame of love. That's what I hate the most now, in retrospect. How could I have let that happen? That's the most unforgivable thing. No. That's the second to most unforgivable thing. The worst was when we finally met.

I had planned it for days, down to the finest detail. Every Wednesday you would spend some time in the mall and pause at the food court for a small bowl of fruit salad. You would sit at the same table near the corner of the court, with tall plants behind you and to your left, and the fountain to your right. It offered you a measure of privacy. For me it offered a way to approach you and gain your full attention. So I did. I wandered by casually, feigning surprise at seeing you and speaking your name, "Adele? Gosh, it has been years." You looked confused and didn't seem to recognise me. I helped by giving my name. That was when I knew it was an act. There was absolutely no chance that you would forget my name -- our past together. My mouth went dry. In all my preparations this was the one thing I'd overlooked: deliberate deception. Suddenly I felt dizzy and had to sit on the edge of the fountain. I felt as if I was falling. You got up and hurried past me to the shop, saying that you'd get me a drink of water, but I knew it was actually to call security. Clearly there was no place for me in your future. You'd left your bag on your table and as you got up I noticed a glass sphere roll out toward me. I stopped it, thinking to put it back. As I picked it up I noticed lettering inside it that read, "I am yours now." I blinked and the letters now said, "She betrayed you." My mouth dropped open. This couldn't be. The text was now, "I made her rich," and as I watched the letters shimmered and reformed. "I must be passed on" then, "but she wouldn't" and it repeated, "I'm yours now."

I turned to look at you returning from the shop with a plastic cup of water. Then I looked at the sphere again. "She's called security" then in big letters, "RUN!" I should have left right then, but I was too astounded. My legs felt like jelly and my ears buzzed.

Suddenly you were standing in front of me and you'd seen the glass sphere in my hands. Your eyes flicked to your purse and back to the glass sphere. Your voice was sharp, rude, "What are you doing with that?" You put out your hand in demand. It was as if a rubber band, stretched to its limit, had snapped. My face was hot and my eyes brimmed with tears of rage. I could hardly hear you through the loud cicada noise in my ears. You had ruined everything. You reached to grab the sphere and while I leaned backwards, pulling my hand away, my other hand closed around the plastic knife on the table. Before I knew what had happened the plastic blade had broken off in your chest and you had a horrified look on your face. You seemed to fall slowly as your blouse blotted blood. I staggered back... into security guards who pushed me to my knees and cuffed my hands behind my back.

Years. Years I've spent in this institution. I never told anyone the full story. It's private, between you and me. They forced their drugs into me -- made me a zombie. I couldn't read or think, just sleep and eat, and shuffle about. I didn't even hate it; I couldn't form the thoughts or dredge up the emotions. I didn't feel anything, which is just as well.

Lately my mind has been coming back. I feel better, clearer than I have in ages. The doctors are really pleased with me and have recommended me for release. They say I've made remarkable progress. I agree that I'm much better than I was, but my heart aches with what I've done. I've made such terrible, awful mistakes. I wish I could take it all back. I can hardly believe I killed you. That was the most unforgivable thing of all. I can never fix that. The doctors say it wasn't my fault, that I wasn't rational at the time. Perhaps they're right, but you're still dead and I find it so, so hard to live with that.

There is a final review of my case shortly. I'm waiting here to be called by the review panel. I know it's really just a formality and that I'll be released. But I don't think I deserve freedom. The sphere agrees. I'll be joining you soon.

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