I know I'm a day late and all that. But Christine threw out a topic for a short story writing exercise in June, and I didn't have time to post mine. So here it is.
Her topic: Waves
The day he met her, his hair fell in inky waves across his forehead. It shone in the weak autumn sunlight as he flagged down a cab. He caught her staring, and raised his hand in a half-wave before realizing that she was a complete stranger. For a moment, the way she watched him felt familiar. Then the cab was there and the driver was yelling at him to get in already.
Time passed. His hair went through an auburn stage. Then blond. Then back to the midnight black that came from a bottle. He'd forgotten what color his hair really was the next time he saw her.
This time, she wore a skirt that slapped at her legs in the winter wind. Her hair fell to her shoulder in gentle waves the color of ripe wheat. He inhaled, almost smelling the grainy scent from his childhood. Almost as fast as a blink, the bus crossed between them and he was left standing on 72nd Street, waving at an empty space.
He crunched numbers in a tall building overlooking the Hudson River. Christmas came. He spent most of that cold day at his desk, the white lights on the tree in the office dark. He watched the waves lap the shore of the river, and he thought of the woman.
Before he left that Christmas day, he booked a single ticket to Kansas for New Year's Eve. The wheat wouldn't be waving, but he knew it was time. With any luck, his father wouldn't be waving a gun in his face as part of the welcoming committee.
He didn't expect to find the woman in another state. But there she was, sitting in the airport with a black leather carryon, her wheat-colored hair pulled loosely into a ponytail. Her eyes mirrored his surprise, a deep blue, the color of the summer Kansas sky.
"Robert Flagstone," she said, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
He didn't know her. But she had haunted him these past few months. "I'm sorry, I don't know who you are."
"Yes, you do," she replied, the grin now taking over her face.
And that was it. She wouldn't give her name, despite his repeated requests. He offered her a ride, but she would only go if he could produce her name.
He couldn't, so he climbed into his rental car alone, flustered and wondering how this woman knew him and he didn't know her. He drove through town, noticing how the holiday flags lining the street whipped and waved in the cruel wind.
Halfway home, he realized who she was. A wave of repressed memories flooded his mind. He pulled the car next to the "Wild Waves" hair salon. With shaking fingers he scrolled through the numbers on his iPhone.
There she was.
"Nora," he whispered, "Flagstone."
When she answered, he asked, "How long has it been this time?"
"Five months, dear."
He couldn't answer. He knew he didn't have to.
"Your parents are waiting," Nora continued. "You seem to know the way."
Robert nodded to himself. He ran a hand through the waves of his inky hair, remembering the familiarity of that first sighting in the fall. He considered going back in time to make that meeting turn out the right way.
But the time travel was the reason he lost his memories in the first place.
So did you wave it up this month? If not, I'm sure you still can. Let me know if you do! Oh, and let me know if you saw that one coming. I know I didn't as I was writing it.