“Hmm. That’s deep.”
Deep. That’s all Thomas could say after I had spent the last two hours telling him about my life and the dramatic events that went with it.
I told him of the rapes.
I told him of the fights and flights in my life
For some reason, I even spoke about my mother. A sacred subject by all standards.
I told him all that and more, and all he could say was that’s deep.
“You seem dissatisfied, Clara.”
I looked up at him. Thomas was a strange man. I had felt strangely drawn to him while we waited for our flight, which was eventually delayed by three hours. He had gently called out to me while I was blowing a fuse and for some reason, I felt obliged to listen. He was calm, soft spoken, never got up once, and kept drilling me with those intense eyes of his.
I wasn’t attracted to him.
I was attracted to him.
A conundrum of sorts because the attraction was nothing physical, and then again it was. But still, it wasn’t. You get my drift, right?
I snapped out of my thoughts and focused my eyes on his.
“Not exactly. I just expected something different from what everyone else would have said.”
“And you say this because?”, he smiled as he asked.
“Because you’re weird. Different. Different in a weird way.”
He just smiled again. “So what would you have me say?”
If I was any fairer, I’d have been red surely. “You know what, never mind. It felt good to talk anyway, so I’m fine with that.”
With that I looked away from him, searching for something else to help burn the hour I had left to wait. I looked back at him and there he was, still smiling. That was it.
I got up, took my handbag and walked away without a backward glance. The man must have some sort of spell about him… he was strangely compelling and I knew I had to get out of there. Fast.
So I walked to a snack bar, purchased a bag of chips and soda and found a seat. I had honestly thought Thomas would walk after me and apologize and tell me something else. What a jerk: a jerk who knew half of my life.
I sighed to myself as I dug into the bag and crammed my mouth with spicy potato chips. I didn’t know how hungry I had gotten after all that talk. Come to think about it, I had done all the talking. Thomas had just sat there nodding, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ like a shrink.
I took a gulp of my drink and glanced at the clock on the wall. Forty minutes to go. This would be a long wait.
A few seconds later, a group of men walked into the bar, quickly filling up the place. As soon as I had a good look at them, I knew what next to expect. I sighed.
“Well hello there. Want me to buy you a drink?”
I didn’t look up but waved my half empty can to show that I was good.
“Some food then?”
I raised my almost-finished bag of chips nonchalantly.
“Some more food then?”
“DO I LOOK HUNGRY TO YOU?”
The man was caught off guard as he clearly hadn’t expected me to shout like that.
I packed my stuff and stormed out of there, as his friends bust out laughing at him. Not me. Him.
This was the fourth time he had tried to hit on me in the few hours I had been in this airport.
I walked back to the waiting area and realized to my disdain that it was filled with people. More flights had been delayed and all the seats were taken.
My old seat, right beside Thomas.
I moved my eyes from the empty seat to him and caught him watching me. He smiled sheepishly and patted the seat.
He had me. There was no way I was going to stand, not in these heels and not in this short-ish dress I had one.
I summoned what was left of my dignity and walked over, and quietly I sat.
“No thank you?”
I rolled my eyes. “Thanks.”
“Clara”. He called ever so gently.
His spell began its work again because I felt the overwhelming urge to look at him. An urge I gave into.
“Your problem is that you are too full of yourself.”
I dropped the can in shock
“Excuse me? How dare…”
“Listen, before you freak out. Clara you are beautiful, gracious and such a wonderful person. You can be a lot more. You have been through a lot yes, but that does not make you a victim. You believe the whole world owes you because of your experiences, and you use your beauty to manipulate your way into getting anything you want. With that, you intimidate everyone you feel is beneath you and not worth your time. Just who do you think you are?
“Who do YOU think you are?” I was almost livid and tried not to raise my voice so as not to cause a scene.
“I’m the guy you just met and told your life story”
“Half! And I’m glad I didn’t say more.”
He smiled again
“Please wipe that smirk of your face.”
He still smiled.
“Clara, I have met your type and I meet them every day. The good news is that you’re not so different from everyone else” he gestured towards the open lounge. “At least most of them. I sit, watch and observe. And I see how selfish everyone has become. The man too selfish to help the old lady pick up her purse. His wife, who selfishly refused to help with the kids on this trip, thereby distracting him from helping the lady. The young man at the counter who purposely kept her waiting longer than usual for the tickets, while he scrolled through his chat. His friend whose promise of a much-needed loan, but has refused to pay up, and kept him waiting anxiously. It’s just endless.”
I had nothing to say, so I just looked on.
“It’s what we are becoming… have become. Pretty messed up.”
I still had nothing to say.
“Clara you can be a lot more. Don’t be the victim of your past, be the Victor. Be the person to begin the roll of a good chain of events and not the other way around. You have the freedom to do as you please, but always remember that you have the responsibility to do good in this world. You and everyone else.”
He stopped talking then. I felt like I had been schooled.
It wasn’t about the words he said, but the way he said them.
I still didn’t have anything to say and remained deep in thought. He had me spot on.
I lost track of the minutes and was surprised when the flight was announced.
I cleared my throat and packed my things, standing up. Thomas didn’t attempt to move but just watched on as everyone got up and moved away.
“Aren’t you coming?”
He smiled again. “Nah. Not till much later. I can’t go anywhere right now. Not yet anyway”
“Cos I’m paralyzed from waist down Clara.”
I froze. My mind froze. My heart froze.
“Accident a few months ago while working for this airport. Fortunately, I’ve been kept on the payroll and left to do whatever I want. My colleagues will come and get me at the close of work.”
It just dawned on me that I was so busy talking about me that I failed to ask him a single question about him. Oh, the shame!
“And this is what you want to do?”
I smiled, a deep contrast from how I felt and I walked over to him to shake his hands.
I turned quickly to hide my tears and walked away.
I knew behind me, Thomas was smiling.
And he was.