I could see him at the other side of the room, just a few tables away from mine. This was the first time I was seeing him here and I had made Delightful Bites my permanent lunch spot for the past three weeks following my relocation to the area a few months earlier. It wasn’t necessarily about the food, which was good but the solitude and privacy, it generally wasn’t a crowded place by lunchtime, everyone went about their business and no one wanted to make small talks. I was the new girl in town, no one knew me and so no one cared, which was perfect for me. I could easily blend in, tune everything out and pretend to be alone.
“What could he possibly be doing here?” I wondered, I went out of my way to pick a location way outside his reach, perhaps the saying that one can run but can not hide is true. Unlike me, time had been far too kind to him, he still had the cute little smile that melted my heart each time he smiled at me, when he used to smile. He had lost the rough edges, now settling for a good and expensive-looking trim, I loved his new hair-do, I could feel my hands running through its lushness. His eyes still held their captivating allure, one could get lost in them, I should know, I did for a very long time. He looked like dessert, clean-shaven with spotless skin. “You are perfect for me” I used to say to him during the first year of our relationship, he still looked perfect, like he belonged on the cover of Mode Men.
He looked out of place in his clean-cut suit which made me more curious, Delightful Bites was not his kind of scenery, only business could have brought him here. He liked to look his best for business meetings “If I want to be in control, I need to look the part and act the part”, he would always say, being in control was certainly his favourite thing to do. I preferred him in jeans and turtle necks but I didn’t mind, he’s the kind of person who would look good in rags.
I should go say hi but I couldn’t help myself out of the chair, it felt like something had a firm grip on me and was holding me down. He must have noticed me staring because he stood up and was making his way toward me. From afar, he had a nice smile and friendly demeanour. However, the closer he got, the more apprehensive I became, I didn’t like attention from anyone, particularly someone of the opposite sex. He was barely two feet away now, something felt off, he looked like him but he wasn’t him, he smelled different too, up close, I could see the difference in his gaze, his looked warmer. He stretched his hands for a handshake and probably to introduce himself but all I heard were screams. I turned in search of the source of the scream and judging by the shocked expressions directed at me, “Oh no, I did it again”.
Time, they say, heals all wounds, physically maybe, it certainly did nothing for the memories. It had been eight months since I finally got the courage to walk away from an abusive partner but every other day, like today, the memories come flooding like a gate was opened.
“Are you okay?” I heard the stranger from across the room say to me. He must have introduced himself but amidst the internal turmoil and scream, I did not get his name. “Okay” I laugh derisively, what did that even mean? I no longer knew what it felt like to be okay, I had not been okay in a very long time. With the exception of the first year where it was all fun and love, the last two years of my relationship was hell and as for the few months alone, I was just glad to make it through the day without an episode like today’s.
Before my ex, I was a powerhouse, a voice to be reckoned with. I was successful, very smart, in control and financially independent, I’d walk into a room full of high-flyers from all walks of life and I would hold my head up high. I seemed to have lost all of that, the only friend I have left keeps telling me stories about my past to encourage me but I can not relate with any of those stories, mostly, I feel as though she speaks of an entirely different person.
Looking at my reflection in the mirror is my least favourite thing to do but I do it often, to remind myself. Again, I can’t recognize the woman staring back at me, she is all scars, physically and emotionally. Whatever I was, whoever I used to be, she seemed to have faded in the background. Worse still, I can’t recognise the new me either, this is how I feel most days; lost, faded.
Someday soon, I pray I learn to be comfortable in my skin, I pray I learn to trust again. I hope to be able to love and allow myself to be loved, I hope to become that powerhouse again, I hope I get my smile back.
Someday soon, when I look in the mirror, I hope to see that the scars are faded and so are the memories.