There is a stranger in my house.
I am unable to regale her despite my best efforts and surely you can imagine the malaise, especially with her coincidentally mirroring my gestures. My lips part the same instance hers do and politeness immediately halts our words. We both wait for the other to find their voice first, but she cracks a smile the moment the corner of my mouth turns upwards. She reaches for the teacup right when I want a sip; it would appear she enjoys honey camomile as much as I.
Finally, she speaks, and I decide the saying great minds think alike would be apt to describe our conversation, though I certainly do not consider my mind to be anywhere near what one would call “great”. I think she agrees with me. Her hair is also swept to her left shoulder. Another similarity : it just doesn’t sit right on the right.
I think about the definition of a stranger. How strange it is that the first time we meet someone is also the last time they can ever be classified a stranger to us. But then faces pop up, mentally correcting me that anyone you are surrounded by can still be unknown to you regardless of how long you’ve known each other. But then again, when do we ever truly know someone? Can we?
Silence settles over us like a blanket. The song on loop in my head finds itself between us – she’s humming it in time to the tune drowning out everything else in my mind.
Her lilt is carried by the stale wind trapped under this roof, holding both our memories – I’m accusing her of larceny because while I, like any other host, offered hospitality as best I could without compromising outside our comfort zones and what is deemed socially acceptable, do not recall offering tales of my past.Those are locked safely in the quietest corner of my mind.
“Who are you?” I ask, the same time she asks me, “How can you not recognise yourself?”
She pushes the open teapot across the glass and I frown into the hollow porcelain, the dregs imprinting my reflection – a carbon copy of the stranger before me who finished my favourite tea.