I hate not being able to see your face

I’ve always been bad at faces. You know that. I heard a thing on NPR about some mental illness where people can’t even recognize the faces of people in their family. No, not Alzheimer’s. Some face-recognition specific thing. Anyway, I’m not that bad, but I’m pretty bad. Like I can spend an hour talking to somebody at a party and a week later not have any recollection of ever meeting them. It’s embarrassing.

Sometimes, it’s more than embarrassing.

Remember your wedding? Of course you do. I remember it. I think about it a lot. It has weighed on my conscience for 6 years.

During the reception I went into the coat room to get some cigarettes. Oh my god, it’s been so long since I had a cigarette! Damn. Anyway, I went in the room where the coats and the presents were, and there was a guy there. I didn’t recognize him, but I never recognize anybody.

I remember thinking at the time that maybe he didn’t belong there. I didn’t want to question him though because for all I knew he was your new brother-in-law or someone I’d met a dozen times at your house. I got my cigarettes and left without saying anything. I didn’t want to be embarrassed.

I traded embarrassment for shame.

When people started talking about things being missing, about someone stealing cards full of money, my heart sank. I was there with the guy, and I could have stopped him. I could have asked him who he was. I could have done something, but I didn’t.

Why didn’t I say anything at the time? What would I have said? “I saw someone, but I have no idea what he looks like?”

I had to finally tell you. Not telling you, not telling anyone, for some many years has eaten away from me.

Are you there? Please talk to me. I knew I shouldn’t have done this over the phone. I hate not being able to see your face.

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This is part of my Fiction Friday series. Read more flash fiction and experimental posts here.

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