My alarm went off at 6.30am as usual, and mechanically, I hit the snooze button. Slowly, I took off my sleeping mask to let in the light of the dawn of what should be a bright summer’s day. A blinding headache threatened to split my skull in half as the light hit my eyes. My head felt like it weighed a ton, and my stomach felt like it’s insides had been sandpapered. I turned over to my side, and in an autopilot movement, my hand reached over for my phone to respond to the customary “Good Morning Beautiful” text that I’d become accustomed to receiving from him every morning before I wake. Then reality hit me, stopping me in my tracks. My hand hovered over my phone wishfully as I painfully recalled the events of last night. I let my hand fall limply to my side as tears rolled down my face and I sobbed uncontrollably into my pillow. I pulled my second pillow to me and held unto it tightly as wave after wave of sadness washed over me. I lay still as memories of his last words echoed in my head.
“I’m sorry. I feel disconnected. It’s not you, it’s me. You didn’t do anything wrong. My head is full.. there are things bothering me, questions I’m trying to find answers to. I’m sorry…”
I had spent the better part of the night before trying to make sense of them. I was neither able to, nor able to sleep. A bottle of wine later, I managed to cry myself to sleep. Now I cursed the heavens for making me wake. My sobbing became louder and my breathing came in short raspy gasps. For all I knew at that moment, the love of my life had walked out of my life without as much as a tangible explanation and I was certain I wouldn’t survive it…
However, after I had made it through the first month, I became slightly hopeful that I just might not die after all, and with each passing day after it, I became more convinced of my survival. I began to become more brave. I dared to begin to learn to live without him. I dared to be brave enough to let go of all the hurt and anger and allow myself to start the process of healing. I began to make new plans for myself and for my life, plans that I would have never dared to make before. I started living more deliberately, working on myself and acquiring new skills. I started reaching out to people again, making new acquaintances and trying to resuscitate a social life that had been dead for three years (which I’m happy to announce, is responding to treatment and may be discharged from the intensive care unit soon). I began to appreciate time better, the past, the present, and the future. And finally, I found the grace to learn to forgive him and to let go.
It’s been exactly a year and two months since that dreadful morning. It’s summer and my girlfriends and I have managed to squeeze time out to take a trip, to Santorini, Greece. I’ve always wanted to come here. I get to finally tick it off my bucket list, I thought to myself, as we waited at the baggage claim of the Santorini Thira International airport for our luggage to come through the carousel. As the girls and I chattered away on dinner plans, I caught sight of a man staring at me from the other side of the carousel. For a moment, our eyes locked, we exchanged polite smiles then he looked away. It all happened in a heartbeat. It was so fleeting that a few minutes later, I began to debate with myself whether it was my imagination.
A few hours later, after unpacking and settling into our suites at the Vedema Luxury Resort, the girls and I decided it was best to have dinner at one of the restaurants inside the resort. We settled for the Alati Restaurant which, we were informed, was predominantly a seafood and greek cuisine restaurant. As a waiter showed us to a table for six out on the terrace, I looked around to take in the enchanting ambience that surrounded me. It was very beautiful and very peaceful. I let myself be engulfed by the cool outdoor air, the warm lighting and the soft jazz playing from speakers I suspected were hidden among the four hundred year old stones that formed the walls.
No sooner had we been served drinks than my attention snagged by the entrance of three gentlemen, one of whom I instantly recognized as the mystery man from the airport. My heart skipped a beat and I flushed internally. He was unmistakeable with his tall build, beautiful unruly dark hair that contrasted perfectly with his pale skin, intense green eyes and a bearded chin. He looked more handsome than I had allowed myself to remember. What was he doing here, I thought to myself as they were shown to the table adjacent to ours.
“Calm your horses, Kaka”, I muttered to myself as I sipped slowly on my cabernet sauvignon, and pulled myself together. I secretly hoped he would recognize me, even though I was now wearing lipstick and mascara, a black dress, strappy sandals and my hair up in a pony tail; and not the denim pants, t-shirt and sneakers I had on at the airport.
I waved the thought from my mind and rejoined the conversation which had drifted to a recent controversial article by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, just as Jenny was vehemently opposing the views posed by the author. At that moment, Stephanie blurted out a silly joke that sent the entire group into fits of giggles. I threw my head back and laughed heartily, while simultaneously wiping away tears of mirth. From the corner of my eye, I saw him looking at me and willed myself not to look in his direction, but failed woefully as I saw him stand and begin to walk towards our table. Once more our eyes locked, and just like in those sappy romance chick flicks, I held his gaze as he made his way over, in ever so graceful strides, to my side of the table. He broke eye contact to smile at my pleasantly confused friends. His smile was easily the most gorgeous, smile I’d ever seen and they made his eyes crinkle at the corners. I wanted to slap myself for noticing those details.
Then he spoke. And I died.
“Hello ladies”, he said softly, his voice, a deep and smooth drawl, his Scottish accent, a dead giveaway.
And once more, I died.
“I’m terribly sorry to be a bother, but I recognized you from my table and recalled having seen you all at the airport earlier.”
“Ah yes”, Tobe responded. “I think I remember seeing you at the airport with two other men.”
He smiled and nodded in agreement, and turning to me, he said even more softly, “It is you that I clearly remember seeing.”
His eyes searched mine for what seemed to be forever, till it was interrupted by Vikky clearing her throat loudly.
“I’m sorry. I’m Christopher Loudain”, he said, extending his hand toward me. With as much poise as I could muster, I introduced myself while extending mine to him. Taking my fingers in his palm, he brought them to his lips, never once taking his eyes off my face. A shiver ran down my spine as his lips lightly brushed against my knuckles. He slowly let go of my hand and I suddenly had no idea what to do with it anymore.
“Kaka, aren’t you going to introduce the rest of us?”, Chidinma chirped up from somewhere to my left, in her faux sweet voice and with a mischievously sweet smile. I shot her a dangerous look, but proceeded to introduce them in turn. I was pleased to see that he didn’t kiss their hands, but just shook them warmly.
Then turning to me he said, “Would you mind so terribly if I could steal a cup of coffee with you sometime tomorrow?”
“No I wouldn’t”, I replied with a smile.
After swapping cards, he addressed the girls once more with that smile that revealed his perfect dentition.
“I’ve got to get back to the lads now, ladies”, he said. “It was nice to meet you all. Do enjoy your dinner.”
As I watched Christopher make his way back to his table, I realized for the first time in over a year, that I had healed completely and that maybe, just maybe, I was ready to try again….
This short story is pure fiction, though some characters may bear a resemblance to living persons.