“Tia ….” Lara said as she slowly picked up the phone and tried to cover her panic with a nonchalant smile.
“Hi,” Tia paused pensively, then asked “Can I sit down?”
“Yes, yes … of course.”
“How have you been, Lara?” Tia glanced at the phone in Lara’s hand, then looked back at Lara.
She must’ve seen the messages. She was looking right at the phone. Why isn’t she asking me anything? What exactly did she see? Maybe she couldn’t see too clearly … maybe she was only there for a second … How long was she standing behind me looking at my messages … to her boyfriend? I didn’t say anything that would upset her, did I?
“I’m good. Thank you so much again for asking Emilio to take me to the market. It was great. I got all the gifts I needed.”
“Oh … and how was that?”
“Your time with Emilio.”
“Great time shopping and bargaining,” Lara laughed nervously.
Lara wasn’t sure if Tia looked skeptical, or if the expression on her face was because her eyes were squinting at the sun. She wanted to blurt out, “I’m sorry Tia. Nothing happened!”
“He told me about your divorce.”
“Yes, he tells me most things. I can’t say he tells me everything. Sorry you had to go through that. Few things can hurt more than betrayal.”
“Yes … it was difficult.”
“You’ve skipped quite a few yoga classes. That really helps … ”
“Yes, maybe I’ll come tomorrow …”
“Emilio … he cheated on me a couple of times. But, he always comes back,” Tia said as she stood up. Lara’s phone started beeping. The battery was low.
“Charge your phone, Lara. You might miss something. See you later.”
Lara watched Tia as she walked away; her eyes followed her until she could no longer see her in the distance. She knows. She knows.
Lara went back to her room to charge her phone. So much was going through her mind – Emilio’s messages, what Tia saw, Allen’s email. She logged on to her Skype, and found Amy online. She suddenly felt the urge to speak to Amy. She knew Amy would tell her about Allen. And she also knew Amy’s intentions – and they were never good. But sooner or later, she would have to face Amy anyway. Everything she was afraid of was right there – a Skype call away – and she could face that fear and speak to Amy, and perhaps realize that it’s not as bad as she thought it would be.
Amy was online. It was really late in Chicago, but she was going to message her anyway. She needed to take her mind off what happened with Tia. And if Amy made her feel worse – well then, perhaps she deserved it. You shouldn’t have even thought of going out with Emilio again … so stupid and selfish.
Are you around to chat? Voice call?
Yes. I’ll call you now. No video?
No. Connection isn’t great.
When Amy called, Lara took a deep breath as she answered.
“Hi Amy …”
“Hey Lara! How’s it going?”
“Good, good,” Lara said quickly. She didn’t want to talk much. She wanted Amy to do the talking.
“Well, tell me, how’s Bali? And how’re you feeling?”
“It’s so beautiful here. And Eleanor, the lady who travelled with me …”
“Yea, I saw that post on Facebook. Lara you’re crazy! But I can’t blame you …”
“She’s great,” Lara interrupted.
“It must be really tough though.”
“It is. It’s not easy. It’s a divorce. But it’ll get better.”
“I saw them, just the other day, Allen and …”
“Amy, I don’t mind you talking about them. But I don’t want to hear her name.” Lara immediately regretted telling Amy this, but it happened so quickly. She couldn’t help it. She never wanted to hear the other woman’s name. But now Amy knew Lara’s weakness – that woman’s name. That was stupid Lara … again.
“Okay …” Amy paused, as though awaiting an explanation. What explanation does she want? Surely, she understands it’s the last word I want to hear now – that name. I’m not supposed to explain anything now.
“Go ahead, Amy. Tell me …..”
“Oh, we were at Tom’s place, and they came … Allen and …” Amy laughed, “You know who they are. Anyway, she’s quite beautiful, isn’t she?”
Lara was silent.
He took her to Tom’s place? Already? He couldn’t wait just a little longer. Tom was a friend of Allen that became Lara’s friend too, and they often went over to his house for gatherings. Lara saw Tom and his wife, Lynn, as her friends now. How could they just let him bring her over?
“Lara? You still there?”
“Yes, go on ….”
“Well, I think she’s really getting along with Lynn. They were talking the whole evening and were making plans for next week …”
Lara felt a pang of jealousy, then anger. She took my husband, now my friends too.
“I didn’t really talk to her much, Lara. You know, it just didn’t feel right.”
Yea right, Amy.
“I was thinking of you. I put myself in your shoes and I couldn’t possibly be ok with you being friends with her … you know, if I were in your place. Anyway, he’s moving to New York to be with her. She mentioned that she tried to move to Chicago, but they didn’t have any positions available for her. So, Allen’s leaving. I guess he can’t be too far away from her … And oh, she was wearing a ring.”
“What? What do you mean? A ring?”
“Well – it was an emerald ring- not a very big one. But, when I asked her if it was an engagement ring, she just smiled and didn’t give me an answer. Allen didn’t comment either. I guess he doesn’t want people thinking he’s that insensitive …”
“As if he cares ….”
A ring? Allen, how dare you?
“Ok, Amy,” Lara felt a lump in her through. She needed to end the call.
“Lara, you alright?” Amy sounded more curious than concerned.
“Yes. Sorry, I have to go. I’m going to the beach with Eleanor. Really need to get going.”
“Ok, Amy. Thanks for the chat. Speak to you soon.”
Lara walked with Eleanor to the beach. It was only a five-minute walk, and Lara was silent for the entire time. Eleanor didn’t ask her any questions, and Lara was grateful for that.
“Would you prefer to go to one of the areas where they have the bean bags and umbrellas? Or should we go that way?” Lara pointed toward a quiet area on the beach. The colors of the sea were magnificent, the sound of the waves soothing. Lara was hoping Eleanor would choose to just sit on the sand. She wanted to feel the warmth of the sand under her feet. She wanted to go back to what it was like when she was a child – when building sandcastles was an accomplishment, and collecting seashells was magical.
“Let’s just sit on the sand,” Eleanor said, like she was reading Lara’s mind.
As they sat down, Lara said softly, “She’s wearing a ring – Allen’s woman – and I let Emilio hold my hand …..”
Eleanor sighed as she put her hand gently on Lara’s shoulder, “You’re going to be fine, Lara.”
“Nothing else happened,” Lara said quickly.
“I understand,” Eleanor nodded.
“He was just … anyway, I won’t see him again. ”
“That’s probably better,” Eleanor said, “to spend the next few days focused on yourself.”
Lara nodded, “But it just felt good – to get that attention, to remember what it’s like. I’ve felt so unsure of myself, so insecure for so long …”
“Did you decide on your dare for the day?”
“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I had a Skype call that I would say was pretty daring. But maybe I’ll reply to Allen’s email today. But you know what I really want to do, Eleanor?”
Lara’s eyes lit up, “I want to run, run as fast as I can. I want to feel the water at my feet, and splash, and act silly, and remember what it was like to not care …” Lara looked up behind her at the hotel balconies overlooking the beach, “and not care whose up there looking. I care too much. I’ve always cared too much about what people think of me, what they’ll think of everything I do. I’m so tired of caring.”
“Go, do it! You’re in Bali … let go Lara!”
“I will … oh, message from Eric.”
Eric: Hey! What’ve you been up to? Would love to see you. You free tomorrow?
“Put the phone down, Lara. Live the here – the now – for a change. Can you?”
Lara nodded as she took off her sandals and put her phone in her bag. She walked slowly towards the water, trying to take it all in – don’t let him own this moment too, Lara. He’s taken enough from you – let this moment be yours, not Allen’s, not Emilio’s, not Eric’s, not a moment of guilt or a moment of regret – a moment for you, a moment that is kinder than all your other moments have been …
She cupped her hands and filled them with water. She slowly opened her fingers and watched the water escape. She became engulfed in the echoes of the waves that were crashing against the rocks in a distance, but gently washing over her feet on the shore. And she thought, that perhaps while his love had slipped through her fingers, there were other tides of love constantly flowing into her life – the love she had for herself, the love others had for her, the love this place was showing her.
She was going to email him this evening. She suddenly became aware of exactly what she wanted to say and how she was going to say it. Yes, she was going to respond to his email – whether that made her seem weak or strong didn’t matter. What matter was how she felt, and this moment didn’t feel like a moment of weakness. It was a moment of awareness – of knowledge, of owning whatever remains of this story. She was going to respond because it was time to finally say what she needed to say for a very long time. And he would have no choice but to listen. And every word she would write, she would write for herself, not for him. She would write it because it needs to be said. She would write it because it needs to be sent. It needs to be received. That message she carried within her from the day he had his affair. That message that weighed so heavily on her heart. I have more to say to you Allen than ‘you’re welcome’. You don’t get to tell me what I need to say and where this ends. It’s my turn.
She could see herself typing the message. The sound of the waves now mixed with the clicks of her keyboard and the beats of a heart that no longer wanted to surrender. She could see her eyes fixed on the screen, reading her own words just one last time. And she felt it right then – Allen was the one she loved, the one she still finds it hard to stop loving, but he isn’t love. “There’s more to love, Lara – there’s more to love than that one person who broke your heart.”
End of Chapter 5
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