Years later, Samir and I met Maya again, at a restaurant. She didn’t recognise him at first, but she saw me and she came over. At first, she thought I had a new lover.
“And who’s this?” she asked.
“Hello, Maya, my love,” Samir said. “You do realise that if I was straight, I’d be going for you rather than this bag of bones, yes?”
Maya shut up and sat down. She stared at Samir. I knew he looked different now, but every time we met someone from before, it made me smile again.
If you looked at a mere photo of Samir, the difference was imperceptible. The same scruffy beard, wild hair, and slapdash clothing sense. But the eyes were different. Rather than glitter manically, they were warm, open. He no longer looked like he would pounce on you and sit on your back as he talked about theories on synapses. When he smiled, he meant it.
“What happened?” Maya asked.
“I made my machine,” Samir said. “And I lost it all. I can’t read too much now. I get saturated. I remember things now, but it’s not fun anymore. My memory is normal now.”
“Poor baby,” Maya said.
“No, I like it this way. I might not be doing things I used to, but I’m happy. I don’t hate it in my head.”
We talked for a while more. Maya asked me about my paintings (which got a lot less interesting after Samir stopped contributing), and she asked us about our lives. We asked her questions. Samir was lively, but not in the way he used to be.
Maya looked shaken as she left. Her boyfriend was waiting at the door. She took his hand and pulled herself close to him. Then she looked back at me and gave me a tight smile. I nodded at her and turned back to my plate.
Thoughts that had been seething inside my head for years bubbled up again. I pushed them down and stared at Samir. He smiled and blew me a kiss. I smiled back, but stopped when he looked away.