When I was done, it wasn’t exactly the bird I’d seen earlier, but a more exotic version of it. Dark. Fierce. Its feathers were ruffled wildly, and the snake dangling from his beak had it’s mouth open with it’s fangs exposed. I created smoke billowing out of the small nostrils on the bird’s beak, as if he could breathe fire. But then I decided that he looked too harsh, too intimidating, so I gave the bird a broken wing, and in the reflection of his eye, I drew the snake before he’d killed it, swallowing a mouse. The final product was both brilliant beauty and vulnerability. Tears formed in my eyes, and I wiped them away before they could spill onto my cheek.
I can draw.
Not only could I draw, but I could draw well. It came as naturally as breathing.
The second thing connecting me to her.
When I put the book down, I looked up, and King’s client was gone. King sat on his stool alone, watching me. “You were in the zone,” he said. “You looked so fucking cute sitting there concentrating.”
I swallowed hard, “I…uuuhhh…got caught up.”
His words took me by surprise. I visualized stalking over to him and climbing onto his lap. His big strong hands coming around my back and resting underneath my shirt on my bare skin. I thought about what it would be like to let him do more than what he’d done before.
What would it be like if he used more than his fingers?
“Bring it here,” King said, holding out his hand, snapping me out of my own imagination where I was naked and writhing underneath him.
“No, you don’t want to see it. I was just messing around. I’ll just put it back in the drawer and clean up now.” I walked over to the sink with the book under my arm. King reached out and snatched it away from me, flipping the pages in search of my sketch.
“Holy Go-go-Gadget arms,” I quipped. I’d clearly underestimated King’s reach.
“How do you know that?” He asked.
“What do you mean? How do I know what?” I asked.
“The ‘Go-go gadget’ thing. That’s a reference to a cartoon. Have you ever even seen it?”
“Um…I think so. It’s this guy who wears a trench coat and has a billion little gadgets all over the place that usually don’t work the way he wants them to.”
“I know who it is. What I want to know is have you watched it since you lost your memory?”
“No, I haven’t watched any TV until earlier tonight when Preppy put on something called American Ninja Warrior.” I stepped back and leaned against the counter. “What are you trying to get at? I thought you believed me.”
“That’s not it. I’m just trying to figure it out. Help me understand.” King leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “If you haven’t watched it, then it’s something that carries over from before. How exactly does that work?”
“I’m not really sure. When I was living in the group home, I saw a psychologist or a psychiatrist or one of those. He told me that memory loss works differently for everyone. For me, it wiped out all personal information. Names, faces, memories. But I can still walk and talk, so I retained all my functions. I also know facts. Like, I know who the president is, and I can sing to you the jingle for Harry’s House of Falafel’s commercial. I just don’t know HOW I know those things.”
King nodded. I bit my lip.
“You know, you’re the only person besides the psychologist guy who’s even asked me about it,” I added.
King turned a page in the book and found my sketch. He studied it for several minutes. Time seemed to tick by slower and slower. I grew restless wondering what he thought of it. He was probably trying to figure out how to tell me it was complete crap. But then again I didn’t take him for someone who would go out of his way in order to avoid offending anyone.
So, what the hell was he staring at for so long?
And why the hell did I need his approval so badly?
“Are you done for the night?” I asked, trying to draw his attention away from the sketch. If he hated it, I’d rather just not talk about it at all. He lifted his eyes from my sketch just long enough to give my body a slow once over, like he was looking at me for the very first time. His gaze ignited my skin as if he’d actually touched me.
“Am I done?” he repeated my question. King ran the underside of his tongue across his bottom lip, leaving a sheen where he’d made it wet. “I’m not sure. I’m thinking I could just be getting started.”