Walking down the street I ran into this guy. I was dreaming and walking awkwardly slow. My shoes had taken their floral motif seriously and wrapped invisible tendrils underfoot. I saw him out of the corner of my eye but dismissed it as preposterous. That morning, rummaging around in my bedroom I fished out a ring I haven't worn since that night. The ring is ridiculous, a caricature of a ring, skull-shaped and bulbous. Heavy enough to drag my knuckles down and cause mysterious travelling aches across all fingers. I couldn't remember when I wore it last until I saw that man out of the corner of my eye.
I thought he was a phantasm, a holographic memory projected by end-of-day fatigue and wondered why I was suddenly thinking of him. But he smiled and walked right up to me. I tried not to take a step backwards. He was friendly and seemed open but then he detected my awkwardness. He said "You nearly didn't recognise me. I apologised, said I was elsewhere and waved one arm vaguely in the air. He said "Distracted" and I nodded because that was close enough. He looked at me earnestly and told me I looked humble just walking down the street.
Humble. How does he think I ordinarily travel? I thought immediately of gold-plated helicopters and a barouche boxes. I didn't notice he was still talking so I asked him how he has been, at the exact same time he asked me. We continued to stand face to face on Enmore Rd and ask each other the same questions at the same time while the traffic smoked past and people swarmed around us and the light went yellow and started to fade.
He was holding a camera, said he was working, taking photos of his most recent art. He kept talking but I was shrinking and my ears starting ringing and then he said farewell and swaggered away. He was older than I remember, his dark hair now salt and pepper, his crows feet more pronounced. I waited for him to diminish but he grew taller as he walked away.
I split entirely in two. Both observing and experiencing my reaction as I blathered around inside the adjacent supermarket buying toothpaste and panadol and a kind of chocolate I do not like. I kept thinking I don't need these things but I gathered random objects into my arms and lapped the tiny two aisle shop again and again. I was hyperbolic on all trajectories and run through with fifteen full-force emotions.
It seemed stupid, even at the time, to be experiencing anything at all at such a small encounter where nothing harmful was said or done. The effect faded as I cooked and ordinary tasks came and went under my unconscious hands but I took the ring off and threw it in a drawer underneath a tumble of half used candles, broken wallets and a box of drawing inks, just in case.