A/N: This story was originally written in Russian. I'm not a native English speaker so I will appreciate your help in fixing my possible mistakes and inaccuracies. The plot is based on one of my most tragic dreams. Soundtrack: Diorama - Amnesia Club; Frozen Plasma - Crossroads.
A girl shouts, "Excuse me!"
I stop obediently, postponing my plan to go to the bar for a few minutes. She runs up to me, a package clasped to her bosom, and anxiously gazes around lest somebody should capture my attention before her. The way her long and curly hair waves as she runs, the way her blue eyes squint and the short heels of her long boots click on the floor seems all-too-familiar, even though we saw each other for the very first time only the week before. For some reason, I remember more than what happened the last week. These memories seem feel like old friends to me.
The girl stops in front of me, a bit confused, and hands me a package. She unintentionally averts her gaze and speaks fast, fearful of wasting my time. I would like to tell her I have more than enough time and could talk with her as long as she wanted; however, the time is in fact limited, and I am sure to be wanted by a hundred other people.
"I have a present for you! I don't know how you will take it and whether the size fits you, but I did try, I wanted to do something special for you to express my love to the band! You're going to visit Russia soon, aren't you? It's going to be cold there, so I think my gift will come in handy! Unfortunately, I can't go there for your concerts..."
While she talks, I accept her package and open it immediately. Inside of it is a sweater knitted by this girl — black, with a big fancy logo of the band in which I have (supposedly?) played for some time. How much time and effort did she put into it? How much warmth did she put into every stitch, every line? And all of this is because she likes the music, likes me. Or rather, the one I have become. I cannot help admiring this work; a touched smile immediately spreads across my face, and I reply to the girl in a soft, sincere voice, "Thank you."
I pack the gift up again but I have nowhere to put it down, so I hold it in my hand and lock the girl in a tight embrace. In that instant, she freezes but quickly grasps what is happening and desperately grabs hold of me. Sure, the embrace is tight but it lasts only a few horribly short seconds. I want to hold her in my arms longer but I feel unable to do so — actually, I should not have hugged her at all. Wrong. Unacceptable. It just happened: I do not know her but I love her — or rather, I do know her but the one whose role I have been playing for quite some time does not. A complicated, absurd situation. No matter how hard I tried to remember something more concrete about this girl, I could not. There is only a suspicion that the piercing warm feeling in the chest and the itch to stay with her longer have not appeared now: rather, long ago. That these desires have always been unreciprocated. I am almost liable to invite the girl to the bar, even to ask if she wants to take a walk with me; at the same time, I am weighed upon by the responsibility for, let us call her, my heroine. I must behave the way she behaves. I cannot do anything else.
So I say it again, "Thank you so much. That's a great present. I appreciate your concern and now I'm absolutely not going to be dying of flu right in the middle of the tour. If I do, you can punish me, I will have no excuse!"
The girl bursts out in laughter with me at the joke, which, in fact, does not belong to me. It is a usual manner of joking of my heroine. She is always easy-going and jocular with her fans, and they dubbed her "Sunny" because of that. Another couple of words, and my heroine has to go, for she is unfortunate to be a very busy woman.
I say a goodbye to the girl and quickly turn to the bar where I am waited for. However, on my way there I am caught by other fans with their repeated requests to sign a booklet of a favorite album or to take a picture with me, and I cast another glance at her over my shoulder: the girl is still standing there, squeezing the hem of her checkered loose-fitting shirt, so bright, excited, affectionate, remembering my embrace. But she is only happy because of having hugged my heroine — she is oblivious to the inner little me, who has had a long, unreciprocated crush on her. It is me who should now be standing there with a dreamy look and replaying the short embrace in my mind again and again. However, for I have become my heroine, who is, by the way, twice this girl's age, I go away, intolerably corrosive bitterness spreading within me.
It just happened: my love to this familiar and, at the same time, unfamiliar girl is the sole thing left from my real self. If I am right thinking this way... if I exist separately from my heroine...
I remember it clearly: one day, I woke up to be not myself — rather, somebody else. A famous, extraordinary woman, who was on the keyboards in one band, on the vocals in another, and on both in her solo project. I woke up after a deep, heavy, blind slumber, and her life fell down on me out of the blue — I had to hurry for a rehearsal, complete the last song for the solo album and prepare for a show at a goth music festival. I remember being terrified for a moment by the fact I was supposed to play synthesizer — I cannot actually do it! I know nothing about music! How am I going to pretend being the opposite? But, no, the fear was vain: all the knowledge and skills of my heroine were left to me. As if I had always been her. Can it be me? Then, where have these memories about the girl I do not know come from? Or rather, she does not know... or it is actually me? Am I ill? Do I have blackouts? Hallucinations? Where are my pills then and why does everybody behave as if I were completely all right? Damn it!
Until we went for the European tour, I was relatively successful in reconciling myself to this new-old-I-do-not-know-what reality. I liked spending my time in the studio, having fun with the band, taking part in collective brainstorming, improvising in different ways, even with the feeling of total alienation and nebulous memories without a form and sense. I tried to get used. It still could be me, it still could be my wonderful life. But last week, at the concert in Vienna, the memories took the form of this fangirl, who then followed us. Five shows in different countries have already passed, and she was at four of them. She has never left my mind all this time, though she has come up to me only now, in Cologne. She always stood in the first row, her bag dropped near the scene without any fear, she knew each of our songs by heart and was in lenses of all the photographers nearby. I regret not even asking her name — it may have brought more into my mind. I regret the fact that to ask fans their names is out of my heroine's character. Even if she learns them, she fails to remember.
At the bar there is another extraordinary woman waiting for me — Thelma, the band's singer and creator. Or rather, a creator of her own universe in frameworks of the band. The one in whom my heroine has perfect confidence as they (we?) have known each other since childhood. Tall and a little mysterious, Thelma has smog-like grey eyes. She makes an elegant, conductor-like gesture with her hand and says, "Here's Felicia."
Of course. My heroine's name. When I am close enough, I hear a soft voice.
"You seem to be worried about something. Are you?"
She is so insightful, my friend. Felicia's friend. As Felicia trusts her, I say, "I am."
"You'll tell me in the hotel, okay?"
I feel I can tell her about it but I am not sure if she understands. If only my heroine, Felicia, would return and take control of the situation... if I am right thinking she exists separately from me...
There is a leather couch in the room which Thelma occupies immediately, spread-eagling on it. I can do nothing but sit down in the chair next to her. Lazily Thelma reaches out to the glass coffee table where her favorite beverage stands and asks, "What is it, Felicia?"
I push the goblet up to Thelma and reply, "It's quite complicated. I'll try to explain, but..."
"I'll try to understand."
As always, Thelma sounds confident, and I want to share her confidence. Felicia would do this. And I... I can only try. I tell Thelma everything about the alienation, the formless memories, the familiar-unfamiliar girl whom I love, and my inner little me. However, I tell it in a way Felicia would tell — only in some words and intonations I can hear something from my real self (if I do exist). Thelma must be hearing it, too. That is probably why she has this piercing look and is drinking slowly, without her usual greed. As the story ends, Thelma stays silent for some time, pondering over her words. Then she speaks a lot in details but I do not hear answers to my grievous questions in her speech. Sadly enough, she cannot give them. She explains my love to the girl as affection towards fans in general. She remembers her own periods of alienation. She speaks of the impostor syndrome. At last, she gives me gentle advice.
"Maybe you should visit a therapist? I'm unlikely to do much about it, though I can partially relate to your feelings."
I nod to her in an uncertain manner, and Thelma drinks what is left in her goblet at one drought. Thoghtful, she twiddles it, reflects in the round glass, and suggests, as expected, "Until then... let's head over Amnesia, my so-called therapy room?"
Felicia never refuses it to Thelma, and I will not refuse as well — there is nothing else I can do.
We go to Amnesia Club; all the time we are sitting there and getting so wasted as though it were our last drinking session, I try in vain to get rid of the image in my mind which defined my (possible) existence: a bright, excited, affectionate girl with long curly hair. Runs up to me with a package in her hands, gives it to me and speaks fast. Stands there in the distance and squeezes a hem of her checkered loose-fitting shirt. Between this and that is what I try to forget now. The intolerable corrosive biterness. That one instant when I stopped being my heroine, and the relatively successful habit to the new-old-I-do-not-know-what reality collapsed. I try to forget in order to completely become my heroine, since I am to be — I do not know if she comes back and if she actually exists. It still can be me. It still can be my wonderful life.