The lady in red is now a lady in blue, but she still smiles and dances, thinking of the man that took her breathe away…
***Any resemblance to actual persons and events is purely coincidental ***
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The humidity tonight drips in the shape of bitter-sweet giggles. It makes a festive entrance through the pale green curtains in my bedroom, leaves a click or a two, reminding me of a fractured glass and then heavily falls on my shoulders. I wish I could ignore the giggles, I wish it was only an innocent sound from the stars blinking in the dark, but no, it’s Fate laughing at me, again. For years now I have struggled to win the friendship of that lady, I try to offer her a gift worth enough to lead me to the right place, at the right time, but I have failed. Maybe I’ve been trying way too hard, maybe I’ve read the instructions to the door that leads to happiness wrong? Either way, here I am, again, questioning the origins of the silver light on the sky, analyzing my memories to find out how exactly I’ve managed to make the wrong choice.
I can’t remember when Sean joined the company. I’ve been passing by his office twice a day, Monday to Friday, on the way to the coffee shop, but I can’t recall for how long. The black, italic letters, neatly written on the silver-like door sign, saying – Sean Al-Fareed, IT consultant – are certainly registered in my mind, but I never really thought about why the name was Irish and the surname Arabic, I never made the effort to see if Sean was as unique as his family name suggested / Fareed- unique/.
At first I was way too busy to fight the leftovers of past demons and affairs; I was hurt, scared and hardly paying attention to my own reflection in the mirror, I didn’t have the mind to notice the sapphire color in Sean’s eyes, his smooth, dark skin. And after that, I was consumed in a new relationship which had the absolute, genuine approval of my parents. I wasn’t crazy about the man I was living with, but according to our mothers we were made for each other. My mom couldn’t wait to see me a bride next to the young, promising cardiologist. For her, being a doctor’s wife was most prestigious and if the doctor was a bit boring, it didn’t matter. His mother couldn’t wait for a grand-child: she thought I was ideal to be a mother, ideal to take care of her precious son and if I wasn’t a stunning beauty, that didn’t matter either. Our fathers cared only about the grand wedding they would give us, offering the finest whiskey and the sweetest wine.
Living a life based on the dreams of my parents, there was no time to apprehend Sean’s secret glances at me, there was no place in my every day routine to detect that we shared the same taste for music and novels, that he, the stranger with the strange name knew more about me than the man my parents hoped to be my husband soon. I remember once Sean asked me out for a drink to thank me for a translation I did for him, but again, I was way too absorbed in my own, supposedly perfect life to observe that there was much more to the invitation than a drink. I even remember on one of my birthdays the white roses he gave me, but my mind for some reason didn’t mark the fact that he was the only one who knew my favorite flowers.
It was a month ago on Friday, at lunch break, almost the whole staff had gathered in the coffee shop and were discussing what we would do for the pre-summer party that we organize every year and a few colleagues brought back memories from previous years. I was sitting next to Sean, eating a strawberry yogurt, when I heard his voice, low, but somehow trembling with excitement, approaching the crowd. “I really liked the costume party two years ago, it was fun. Maybe we could do something similar?” The rest seemed to like the idea and loud, approving sounds filled the air. The girls immediately spoke of shops for the best costumes and the boys giggled with lust, probably imagining daring outfits in see-through materials. Not that enthusiastic, I murmured that I would wear the same dress of a Mexican woman I had worn before and then it was when I understood how blind I was all this time, when Sean said, ” You were the most beautiful woman in that red dress and the golden mask on your face, hiding your eyes, so mysterious, enchanting. I was counting the seconds to midnight to see it off and to check if there was the same glow in your eyes as the one in your smile.”
If the express train had run over me I’d probably have felt less shocked? My mind had never worked with such a speed. Thinking, thinking and again thinking, how he remembered such details? I’m sure my cardiologist wouldn’t remember what I wore yesterday, not to talk about if he ever paid attention to any kind of glow streaming out of my soul or body. I slowly moved my eyes away from the empty yogurt pot to his face, but not so slowly that I didn’t notice he was biting his lips, obviously regretting for the words that had slipped out. The sapphires on his face stared at me and warmth flooded my veins, unexplainable, yet mesmerizing.
“How do you remember all this?”
He hesitated at first, I could see he wasn’t sure what to answer, but then he spoke and his firm voice made it all clear, so very clear about how blind I was.
“It was the week when I joined the company and at the party was the first time I saw you. That day will always stay with me, no matter what!” He placed his coffee cup on the table and left the shop. He didn’t say another word, he didn’t turn around, he just left and his shadow carried away tons of unanswered questions.
That night I saw Sean in my dreams. The surreal collision of tenderness, his lips searing my lips and the hazy icon of my curls in the palms of his hands woke me up with an abysmal sigh. I sat down in bed trembling from the outburst of passion in the dream. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to live with the man sleeping next to me. I realized that he would never manage to shake my feelings in a way a silly dream did, even if I let him enormously close to me. For a first time I didn’t seek the warmth of the body beside me, but I sneaked out of the dark green satin and spent the night on the sheet-less bed in the guest room next door. Wide awake, inhaling drops of air one at the time, I was praying to somehow get rid of the anxiety caused by the physical longing and the emotional need to be with Sean.
No one was happy with my decision to end the engagement with the doctor. Actually, there was a furious, thunderous taste in the atmosphere shortly after I announced the verdict of my personal judge – Mr. Heart. What I heard … all of them begging me to think it over, oh, I’d probably live to see the day to sip slowly and enunciate the regret and the shame, I’d probably be conscious enough again to savor the joy of “I told you so!” expressions of sort, but at that moment I didn’t care. I wanted the weekend to be over, to go back to work and see Sean.
When Monday came, unusual clumsiness had taken over my behavior and it didn’t let go of me the whole week. I was afraid that if I talked to him I’d show him how much I needed him. The complete ignorance that I had over his personality suddenly turned into sensitive, silent acknowledgment about anything connected to him. Not only would I read his name on the door, but I would be aware of little details surrounding him.
Of course now, because I wanted to spend every minute looking at him and be breathless every time he’d sit next to me at coffee break, that vicious creature Fate made sure he had most of his work assignments outside of the office. Pathetic me spent five days on the edge of plain, confidence- eating madness. The only good thing was that the office party was in a few days. I turned the whole town up-side-down to find a dress matching the color of his eyes. I found the golden set, bracelet and necklace / a present from my mother for my 18th birthday/ that I have never worn up to now because I wasn’t into jewelry, but since Sean told me how he loved the golden mask on my face, I couldn’t skip that little detail. I wanted him to see nothing and nobody else but me at that party. And he did! I’m sure he had eyes only for me!
I was standing next to the buffet with the drinks, chatting with few of the girls, when Sean entered the front door. He stood there, tall and divine, scanned the room and in a second his eyes locked with mine. The space and the people between us didn’t blur the astonishment he adopted, looking at me. I could feel the sapphire light drinking in the shape of my face, barely touching my lips, slipping on my naked shoulders to caress each part of my silk dress and to end blissfully on the velvet of my elegant shoes, after a long glimpse at the delicate, sun-tanned skin of my legs. With each step he took toward me, my heart was raising the number and the sound of its beats. When he was finally next to me, greeting me, I could only think that it was a crime for a man like him to walk around freely, that there should be a limit to how handsome someone can be.
Not long after, somewhere in the conversation he dropped a question about my fiancé, where he was, why I was alone. Without a qualm, I answered that I no longer had a fiancé. He smiled at me and said he was sorry to hear so and I was sure I saw a black cloud crossing the calm blue of his eyes. Was he really sorry? Did I misunderstand his intentions towards me? Did I really feel the fondness when he gazed at me? I was confused and I didn’t know if I wanted to find out the truth. He was right next to me, so close that I could touch the fragrance of his body and yet, the black clouds took him miles away. I needed a minute out, I had to breathe fresh air or I would’ve crumbled to pieces on the marble floor. On the balcony the late night breeze refreshed my thoughts until I could inhale again a large amount of air without the urge to cry. I was ready to go back inside but turning around I saw him in front of me and I froze, with my back pressed to the wall.
“Did I upset you, asking you about your fiancé? I’m sorry if I have!”
“No, Sean! You haven’t! I assure you I am not upset because of my ex- fiancé or because of your question.”
He moved closer to me, an inch away, a gasp apart. I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to hear the buttons of his shirt falling to the ground. If he only knew how much I adore shirts with buttons, his blue shirts that smelled like the ocean at night in the summer! One of his hands leaned trembling on my back, the other was tracing the contours of my lips and I heard him whisper, I heard his voice- a love lullaby: “It’s so wrong to want you! It’s dangerous to love you …”
And there was no more than an inch and a gasp to keep us apart, his lips tasted mine at first carefully, with a gentle kiss and when my hands locked on his arms, the kindness was replaced by eagerness, fierce …
And then his phone rang and he pushed me away. Cold fingers squeezed my heart. Have I told you that ever since then I hate any kind of mobile devices that finds you unprepared to deal with whatever will follow next? Well, If I haven’t, now I have … I heard him speaking Arabic, apart from the yes and no answers he gave to the person on the other side of the wire, I couldn’t understand anything else, I couldn’t concentrate enough to make words out of his speech. The conversation ended and he stood there, tall and divine, looking at me through the black clouds in his sapphire eyes. “That was my fiancée, I’m sorry, I … I shouldn’t have come close to you, please forgive me!”
Fiancée? What was he talking about? I wanted to scream! No! Better! I wanted to set the whole place on fire; the flames might erase the words that I just heard. But, no, I am a lady and I took a deep breath and I spoke quietly and politely, like every lady does: “I didn’t know you had a fiancée, If I knew I wouldn’t be here right now, believe me.”
He sat on the floor and sighed heavily, looked down at the ground with shame and regret and spoke: “I didn’t have a fiancée a week ago. I didn’t want to have a fiancée. For two years I’ve been trying to get to you, trying to make you notice me and when I gave up because I couldn’t take the longing anymore, when I decided to make my father’s wish come true and to marry a girl from my country, you come here with all the charm a woman could possibly carry and you tell me that there is no longer a boyfriend on the picture? Why? Why now? I have already given my word! I can’t take it back!”
I wanted to set the whole town on fire, together with my luck and that traitor Mrs. Fate! Would it fix things though, I wondered? No! We don’t burn Fate and we don’t make into ashes her wicked sense of humor. We walk out like ladies. I walked out like a lady, saying absolutely nothing, with my chin up; I didn’t let a single tear to escape either! I didn’t turn back to see him looking after me with the eyes of a ghost and a sapphire light fading completely away. But I knew when I left, his shadow left together with me.
I haven’t been to work for the past 10 days, I called in sick. I’ve switched my mobile off three days ago; I can’t stand the sound of ringing and the name Sean on the screen. I haven’t thought about if I’ll ever call him back, I don’t have the courage to think, not yet. But I’m thinking of leaving Greece as soon as I find a new country convenient to live in. Or maybe I won’t move at all, after all it’s not a big deal that I have fallen crazy in love with a man that I can’t have. It’s only a scar, a tiny line, spreading petite, insignificant fire that the first snowflakes will touch with a kiss and ire. It’s only a scar, nothingness left because of the sapphire light in his eyes …
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© 2011 Broken Sparkles