I’d said I’d forget, and I had. Until that weekend my mom takes me out shopping and I walk past the exact same spot on the third floor where I used to stand with him. It’s the centerpiece of the mall, a small, all-glass balcony hanging over the middle of the mall, so if you looked down through the floor you could see all the people swarming over each other, cell phones clutched to their ears, shopping bags held securely in their hands. The third floor was strictly reserved for the food court, and that day when I’d gone to the mall with him he’d been hungry (as always) and decided to walk up to get some fries. Then he’d ended up persuading me to get some too and we both had munched and walked slowly around the edge of the third floor, enjoying each other’s company.
“Let’s go stand on that,” he’d said when I walked past the glass floor. I’d cringed because I have a deathly fear of heights. “Come on, it’ll be alright.” He’d walked with no fear onto the glass, even jumping a few times as I had squealed in alarm and excitement. Then he’d pulled me onto the glass too, where I clung fiercely onto his arm, scared to look down. “It’s okay, look down.” he’d said. And I did. And I wasn’t afraid anymore.
I walk through the crowds, alone. My mom is in some ladies’ store trying on shoes, but I’m not interested in shopping today. I decide that I’m hungry and take the escalator up. I get in line at Chick-fil-a…and that’s when it happens. Déjà vu.
I step out of line quickly, head swimming and an inconceivable pain in my chest. Stumbling, I push my way through the crowds and somehow end up at the glass balcony. It’s completely empty, as if it is waiting for me to take a chance. I pause, one foot above the glass. Should I chance the memories?
“Ma’am, if you’re not going to step onto the glass, then please make way for the others who want to,” a voice says, and I turn, both feet back on the tiled floor, to see a security guard smiling impatiently at me. There’s a mother behind him looking frazzled, holding the hands of three little children, all jumping up and down and pointing excitedly down at the people.
“I’m sorry.” I say, and step away. A flood of memories start a slow trickle into my brain. No phone calls. No texts. Ignoring me. More pain flares up in my chest, but I take a deep breath and shove it all down and push everything back into the dusty old corner when it belongs. Then, I calmly take the escalator down to the first floor, not looking back.