Mark waited for his next victim in a darkened alley. The sun was setting for the night, but its brilliant orange light could not reach Mark in the alley. The tall city kept him in the shadows. He played on his phone while he waiting for someone to use the ATM around the corner. He hated to rob people, but it was the only way he could make money. Having a job proved impossible when his name was taken off the schedule every week. No one could remember who he was, or that he even worked there. He heard the unmistakable sound of cash being dispensed, then he stood up and put his phone away. He didn’t bother with a mask. After the first couple of times he realized that the victims were more likely to remember him if his face was hidden. Uncovered he only needed to let the curse work its magic, and the victims would forget about him. He never took all their money anyway.
Mark heard footsteps getting closer. They sounded light and clicky against the sidewalk, a woman wearing high heels he guessed. He hid in the shadows waiting for her to walk by. The alley’s interior was almost impossible to see into from the sidewalk, and Mark wore black clothes. He saw a red high heel step into view, followed by the other one. A flash of recognition surged through Mark’s brain when he saw her face. She was a former classmate from before the curse, but it did not matter. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d robbed friends. Not that anyone, friends or family, recognized him anymore. Everyone was a stranger, so everyone was a potential victim.
He gracefully walked up behind her as she passed the alley entrance, unaware. His body knew what to do. In a single swift motion he covered her mouth and pulled her into the darkness of the alley.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I’m just short on cash,” Mark whispered into her ear while she struggled to break free. “I don’t want all your money, I just need 20.” He said finally, then let her go.
“You’re robbing me, but you’re only taking $20?” The woman turned around. Her crystal blue eyes showed obvious confusion, and she cleared strands of dark hair from around her face. Mark shrugged. “Yeah, if you have it. If you don’t, I understand. You’re free to go.”
“What, really?” The woman took a step back, cautiously. She seemed to be waiting for Mark to chase her, but he did not move a muscle. Mark would have left anyone else unconscious in the alleyway with their wallet $20-$40 lighter. But, she was someone special to him. Alice Jacobs was his his first puppy love, his first kiss, his first girlfriend, and now his latest mugging attempt. Despite building up a jaded wall around his heart over the last decade, he discovered he still held a soft spot for her. He shooed her toward the alley’s exit, he didn’t have anywhere to be. He could mug the next person.
“Yeah, let’s just say I changed my mind. I’m sorry, go ahead.” Mark sat down on the trashcan to wait. He still debated finding a different alley after Alice left, lest she come back with the cops. They always ended up letting him go too, but a week in jail is a week too long.
“Oh, okay. Thank you sir. Good luck in life,” Alice waved and turned to leave the alley, though she moved surprisingly slow. Mark waved wistfully at her back as she walked away.
“See you around, Alice,” he mumbled to himself as watched her leave. She stopped walking, then a second later she somehow stood directly in front of him, her blue eyes boring into his.
“What did you call me?” She asked. Her eyes narrowed, and the corners of her mouth twitched upward. She looked to be on the verge of ecstasy, but she fought against it by forcing a straight face on herself.
“Alice. You probably don’t remember me but we were in, -” His words were interrupted, and his breath was squeezed out of him by Alice’s tight grip. She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed while yelling in his face.
“MARK!!!!” He looked down at her, completely confused.
“How do you know my name?” He asked, and pushed her away slightly. 10 years is a long time to go without affection, and now Alice was giving him too much at once.
“Cause I love you!” She said. “Always have, there’s no way I’m forgetting my *first*.” Mark shook his head.
“But I mean, how do you know me.” Mark never thought he’d hear his name come out of the mouth of someone that wasn’t a Barista again. His emotions hit him all at once and he pulled Alice close again to cry on her shoulder. “No one’s recognized me for over 10 years.” She looked up at him with her eyes wide.
“You too??” She asked.