I was sitting at the piano in the living room, playing the same four measures of music over and over. Trying to, anyway. Gingy, you’ve got to focus. I told myself, the words coming through my head in my sister, Jessa’s voice at the same time. Something was off, though, something was different about the way that the house felt, as if someone was about to show up and change things.
The doorbell dinged, right on cue, sending a rhythmic sound of bells through the entire house.
“I’ve got it!” I call, for the benefit of my sister, who’s upstairs in her room. I walk over to the door, taking a few steps at a normal speed, then speedwalking, then slowing down again, wondering why I’m was so nervous and so excited. People rang the doorbell all the time. Mailmen. Jessa’s friends. Aunt Clara, whenever she surprise-visited us. It wasn’t any of these people though. At first, the face didn’t look familiar at all, and I couldn’t figure out why there was someone standing on our doorstep expectantly. The person didn’t have the look that most of Jessa’s friends did; her friends wore lots of makeup and jewlry, and t-shirts for old bands. The girl standing on the front step had none of this. She had on a yellow sweater and black leggings, and the same boots that Ginger’s mom wore all the time. She had long, really-curly, red hair, and brown eyes. Red hair. Brown eyes. Something tapped at Ginger’s mind, distracting her from going through the steps she was supposed to when someone showed up at the door. Something do to with red hair and brown eyes. “Sorry,” I say, a bit too loud, shaking herself partially out of her trance. “Come on in, I guess.” I nervously guide the stranger---or not stranger---through the house to the kitchen.
“I’m Victoria, remember me?” The girl says, sitting down at the table. I pour a glass of water, not wanting to give some of the orange juice or milk in our fridge to a stranger. Not stranger, I correct myself, she thinks she knows you. She thinks you know her, too.
“Uhhh…No? Sorry, I really do have a terrible memory.” This is not true in the slightest, but it’s what my mom always says whenever she knows she should remember someone and doesn’t---even though it’s never true for her either. When my dad says it, he actually means it. He has a terrible memory. Victoria clucks her tongue and slips a hand into the bag she has slung over her shoulder. She pulls out a photo album with a blue cover that appears to have been dunked in glitter glue. She flips open to a random page and slides it across the table.
“Remember this? Orr..” She flips to another page “that? Oh!” She flips again “This, you’ve got to remember this.” And she’s right. So, so right. The picture is of a younger version of me and a younger version of her, huddled together underneath a huge skeleton of a dinosaur. It’s not the dinosaur I remember, not just that anyway. It’s years of a best friend-ship that ended when I was six. Tori and Gingy, inseparable, in my mind, and hers too, at least. She was never there to anyone else though. My parents never met her, and she wasn’t the kind of friend whose mom texted my mom about ‘getting us together’ or ‘meeting for a playdate after school sometime’. She was just there when I thought about her, and then my parents would claim that she must not exist. My parents got me together with Lydia, a girl from my preschool class, and asked me if there was anyone else I wanted to have a playdate with, and slowly, Victoria, Tori, disappeared, and with her, so did Gingy. Ginger had new friends. I had new friends. Slowly, I came to realize that Tori had never been real. Except now, here she was, showing me photos of her that proved she was real. I tried to process everything, which only became harder when she started talking again. “Gingy, I’m going to have to go now. I only came to say goodbye. I can’t be here forever. Here, you can take this, and if you remember me, the photos will stay. No one else will see the me in the photos, though.” Victoria got up, leaving behind only a full glass of water and the glittery photo album.
“Magic would never let me stay here forever. You’re fine without me now. Bye, Gingy.” Victoria stepped out into the street, not bothering to close the door behind her. “Oh, and try to play the A flat with your left hand. You always did that when we were younger.” Victoria called. And then she disappeared, leaving the door open and an outline of glitter in the air. Ginger had so many questions. She sighed, then opened the photo album carefully.
Posted in response to the challenge Imaginary.