One of the girls was looking at me as if she were trying to figure something out, or remember something, and I was probably looking at her the same way, because she seemed familiar, but I wasn't sure. If I'd stopped to think about from the opposite direction, asking myself who in the tribe I might recognize, I'd have found an answer a lot sooner, but instead I tried to figure out the way I always try to figure out why I might recognize someone: I looked at her, I repeatedly thought, 'How do I know her?' and I hoped that an answer would come.
Eventually one did, but I wasn't sure until I was told her name. The other names I lost track of almost as soon as I heard them, but when I was told she was Jacqueline Black I had my answer for sure.
My right hand was clutching my shirt, I don't know whether putting pressure on scrapes actually helps, I kind of suspect the opposite, but it's how I deal with them none the less. Shaking hands would probably hurt, but I figured it would be worth it, so I forced myself to let go of my shirt and offer my hand, then I said, in the most confrontational voice I could manage, “Hello Jacqueline, if that is indeed your name,” while we shook hands. At that point it was a contest to see who could keep a straight face for longer.
I think we broke down at about the same time, and then she pulled me into a hug and said, “It's good to see you.”
I hugged back, and tried to regain my footing so she wasn't holding me up, while saying, “It's good to see you.”
“You two know each other?” Michelle asked, in a voice that seemed to tinged with disgust.
We disentangled ourselves and turned to her. I was going to say that we'd known each other since we were kids, but Jacqueline spoke first: “No.”
I followed her lead, “Not at all.”
“I don't even know his name.”
“It's Ben,” I said, still facing Michelle.
“Nice to meet you, Ben,” Jacqueline said, also keeping her attention on Michelle.
“You as well.”
“We definitely never met.”
“Not even once.”
Michelle said, “You two know each other,” this time as a statement. There was definitely something not nice in her voice, but I ignored it.
“Well...” Jacqueline started.
“It's possible our mothers went fishing together.”
“Once or twice.”
“And we might have seen each other every summer growing up, except for the last four years.”
“I never was good at math,” sadly this was and is completely true. I never have been.
Jacqueline concurred, “No, you weren't.”
“But apart from that...”
“We don't know each other in the least.”
“Why do you ask?”
Michelle made a frustrated noise and left, Jesse followed her.