Oh yes, she had certainly changed with the times; renewed herself, if you will. She could well have been anyone else if it wasn't for her angular chin, her pert little nose. The long brown ringlets had me fooled at first but I recognised the sparkle in those rolling eyes. We were old friends in new roles. For one afternoon in my sixteenth year, the woman of my dreams had become my lover. If only I could remember what had led to this very contented moment.
My mind was completely blank. All I knew was that I was now truly a man and that a true man would not let a woman like her leave again. She told me she had to: I was only her four o'clock, after all. Naively I thought I was more. I watched dumbly as she draped her red leather coat across her shoulders; I merely nodded as she fastened the straps on her jewelled shoes. I kept commanding myself to stand up, to reach out for her hand but every moment after I did nothing. At last she collected her money and made for the door. At last I found my voice.
"Please. I just can't let you go like this. I know it's inappropriate but I must be sure that I'll see you again." That was the gist: I can't quite recall the exact state of those faltering words.
And she stood there. Her lips twitched as before; she had to bite down on the lower half. She reached into a hidden pocket and withdrew a card. She closed it in my quivering palm. It was something; the smallest token of a patient woman. I unfurled my fingers and glimpsed the top: in bold letters, 'CONSTANCE'. I thought it an ill-fitting name for such a graceful creature. I held onto it anyway; tucked it away into the back pocket of my jeans and, indeed, my memory. Her smile regained its confidence as she turned back towards the door. She gripped the handle and was gone. I folded my arms and watched without even a moment's surprise. I followed shortly after but nowhere near as softly. Things were changing. A different place was waiting but I just couldn't bring myself to meet it yet. Just a bit longer. Just a few more...
Within the seconds I was taken, I clung onto that name; repeated it from thought to tongue to teeth and back again. Constance, Constance, Constance, Cons-
I grasped for my pockets. The insides were warm against my fingertips as I scratched and scrabbled around. I felt no sharp edges, no cool laminate. Just the same old fabric. I withdrew my hand as I opened my eyes. I should have read the number, the contact details. I should have memorised them. But they were only smudges now, everything except that name.
And then I remembered where I was, realised that I'd never actually been in that room; understood that it was far away if it even existed at all. CONSTANCE. There was no Constance. She wasn't here. Reality had swallowed me whole again.
But at least I had a name. The mystery wasn't nearly so thick or dark. Yes. Constance. Familiarity had more than a face now.