Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
“Cool. This suits you. The highlights.”
“Since when did hair mean that much to you?”
“It don’t, man. Can’t a guy say something nice sometimes. I mean you’ve been making major changes. Don’t you want anyone to notice?”
Harris shrugged. When no one at dE.tail had said anything about the new cut he thought he should have gone for a more dramatic cut, a total hair color change. At work he’d caught himself a few times grab for an elastic to pull it back into a pony tail only to reach up and there was no hair there. At least his shoulders no longer felt bare without the shield of hair.
“I got more info on the curse.” Out of his shoulder bag he pulled the photocopies his Dad given him.
Trevor read them. “A love beyond recall … sound like poetry.”
“Yeah, I suppose. Beyond recall may mean you don’t remember, that you can’t recall, it once it has happened.”
“Possible. I always thought a curse would be something like ‘may your soul rot in hell.’ This sounds pretty good.”
“Me too,” Harris laughed, “Or ‘may your complexion never clear up.”
“Whoa, now that’s nasty.”
At Victoria Park Station the bus was right there.
Without the fog that shrouded it the last time the apartment block didn’t look as foreboding. The long hall smelled of French fries, then hot dogs, then burnt toast.
The door to Trev’s Aunt Nilasha apartment was open.
“I am so happy to see you again Harris. The confusion you were in the last time hasn’t cleared away. Trevor tells me you have had very exciting times since you were last here. ”
They stepped out of their shoes while she closed the door behind them.
“Exciting isn’t quite the word I’d use.” Harris took a gift bag out his shoulder bag. In it were hand cream samples that had come into dE.tail. “This is to thank you for being concerned with my mystery.”
“Really?” she laughed. “There is no need for this.” She opened one and smelled it. “Very pretty. Thank you.”
“Now sit. I have delved into the nature of your curse. One this subtle and yet so strong is very rare.”
“I figured as much. Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.” Harris could remember the curse word for word.
Nilasha gasped. “These are the very words? Repeat them.”
“How did you obtain this?”
He told her about the diaries and give her the copies of the pages.
“Yes. Yes this confirms what I have learned. Do you understand that it is not a curse. It is a blessing, a gift.” She said as she sat. “You want to give the gift back?”
“I would if I could.”
“I’m of the opinion when it was first uttered it was meant to offer hope for those who found it hard to interest mates. What one acquires, another loses, though. The universe seeks equilibrium.”
“One gets love but loses memory?” Trevor suggested.
“Something like that. We assume that with wishes there is no cost when they are granted. There is always a cost to the receiver.”
“What about a cost to the the giver?” Harris asked.
“You are still looking for a way to rid yourself of it. Have you considered what it may cost you do that. What are you willing to sacrifice?”
“Sacrifice. Like a virgin on a full moon?” Trevor joked.
“I told you Harris, this is a blood bond that has been in your family for centuries. Now that you are sensitive to it I think you have to learn how to live with it. Leave these with me.” She patted the Tobias pages. “They have more to tell us.”
Outside Nilasha’s apartment block Harris tuned on his phone. There were three voice-mail messages. One from his Dad to see if he had read the Tobias papers. One from Tavi to remind him of big project starting the next day and to get plenty of sleep. One from Alex asking for his help for a computer problem.
“Why do people expect me to know anything about computers?” he asked Trevor. “Because I use one all day doesn’t mean I’d know how to fix one. Would you think a nurse knows how to fix an X-ray machine?”
When he got back to his place he returned Alex’s call. Although he didn’t want to follow through on what was there, a part of him enjoyed Alex’s voice, enjoyed his memory of the look of him. He had tried watching an ultimate fighter show but the angry animal speed and the lack of discernible rules made it hard for him to follow or enjoy. He’d see them all over each other on the matt punching or trying to and wouldn’t know who he should be rooting for, if anyone.
“Hey Alex. It’s Harris. I guess you’re at work. Try me around lunch time tomorrow. I have a big work project starting so my phone’ll be off till noon. Bye.”
When he got to work the next morning his big project was a major overhaul of the Sport Spot advertising approach. No more pitching with spokes-people who were middle-aged pro-golfers. They wanted a younger market. The rough spec drafts of the online and print catalogues were ready. His job was to make the models look healthier, to give their complexions the right glow, the glow that would make buyers buy.
They had two new models: Geoffrey Calligan, multi-gold medalist olympic swimmer and Monica Bostford, who was extending her fifteen minutes of Top Model fame, her appearance on Big Brother last season and the Amazing Race this season. Racing amazed with Geoffrey as they promoted this new line of Sport Spot equipment and accessories around the world.
The catalogue was set up to tell the story of these two showing new recruits through the various equipment as if they were in a gym. The recruits looked as if didn’t they need a gym but that wasn’t his problem.
He was to make sure all their bodies had more eye appeal. Male models were to have less body hair. In the case of Geoffrey it was his job to make his particular ‘package’ look smaller. No one wanted the ab buster to become known as the bag buster because Geoffrey’s ample bulge pulled focus.
A day of flattening shadows, fattening calves, rippling six-packs and electronically nipping out nipple hairs.
If Lin hadn’t tapped him on the shoulder he would have worked right through lunch.
“Working very hard.’ Lin leaned in to get a better look at the image Harris was working on. “I can see why. She is a very pretty … spokesperson?”
“I suppose. I stop seeing them as people but as pixels to be nudged.”
“It is sad when beauty loses meaning.”
“I can’t get distracted by beauty.”
“Time for lunch break Harris. Let the pixels rest.” Lin laughed. “I want to go a fast-food to get some meat on my bones like you have. Friends tell me I am too thin.”
Harris pushed away from his desk. He enjoyed the slow, steady progress he was making with the images. Touching them without touching them. Monica didn’t need as much work at Geoffrey. Facial eruptions of hers to be smoothed out but adjusting Geoffrey’s package over and over was an action he happily anticipated. He was becoming curious as to what was there.
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“Oh no Harris. Large, yes. Fat never.”
As they crossed to the Eaton’s food court Harris spotted Becky. Their eyes met briefly but he didn’t acknowledge her. He’d learned his lesson the other day. One remembered rejection was enough for him. At least the curse had been sparing him that.
As they were going into Eaton’s Harris heard a woman calling him.
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