I left the bar feeling a unique kind of embarrassment, not that I didn’t belong in their world, but a humiliation of character for betraying Corey’s trust. Corey let me into his home and was the only one in Winter Harbor, or indeed in my life, who never seemed to judge me for my naive sojourn North.
I hold the glossy, red boots in my hands, and inside, I feel my seventeen-year-old self, twist and writhe. The last time I saw my mother, she was foaming hot curses from the mouth for my wearing these shoes. They sat in the top of her closet, absorbing the scent of plywood, collecting dust. In all the depths of my mind, I could not fathom her wearing them. Even now I cannot.
When I began, our images in the mirror transformed too. Reflecting back were two girls wearing purple dresses inlaid with gold, hemlines scraping the sand. We had a diamond stud each in our noses and copious bangles. Once, I’d overheard a family friend describe me as plain. My mum hadn’t denied it. But here, in this mirror, I was something else.
She was extremely sensitive to this particular raag. A simple mistake in its rendition which escaped the notice of a regular listener – a minute deviation from Shuddh Rishabh while ascending or from the Komal Rishabh while descending, for example – would cause genuine physical harm to her body.
Do you chew Bazooka bubble gum still? Do you wear Converse high-tops and carry around erasers that smell like strawberry? Do popsicle sticks fall out of your pockets when you do cartwheels on the path behind the ravine?