The avalanche of emotions overwhelmed her. This wasn’t what she had expected – she never thought that seeing him again would bring back the emotions she had buried deep within. They broke all boundaries as if in a desperate attempt to make him see that she still cared.
Gasping for breath she staggered towards the pillar trying to stop herself from tripping. How is this possible? It can’t be. She’d imagined this moment so many times before. It was different every time but she was always in control. Then what was this? He hadn’t even seen her and she was crumpling like dried leaves.
While mindlessly strolling through the mall, she first noticed the walk – the slow swagger which could only mean one person. Gosh! Those long strides made her choke. Her eyes travelled up towards the broad shoulder covered in an expanse of blue checks. His hair – well combed and gelled – just the way she’d always seen him.
His hands looked strong and as they swung by his side she noticed the bracelet. Oh my god! He was wearing the same leather and rope band from his enviable collection. The only one she ever liked.
She knew she had to get out of there, now! He hadn’t see her and she couldn’t let him see her like this. When she walked away the last time, she was in control. Even as she’d moved away from him she could feel her resolve breaking with the hope that he would stop her, but he hadn’t.
That was six years ago.
Wouldn’t one say that it was a long time to get over someone? Wasn’t she being foolish? She had heard that he was seeing someone. Did he marry, I wonder? She had married herself, then why were these emotions breaking the walls she had painstakingly built within? She had vowed never to feel this way again.
‘Breathe girl’, she told herself. ‘You’re just surprised to see him, that’s all. There’s nothing to it. Gather your wits and walk away’. Taking a deep breath she let go of the pillar, straightened her back, clutched her bag and turned. And immediately buckled and slumped against the pillar again. It felt like someone had sucked her breath out.
There he stood smiling. That smile on dimpled checks always took her breath away. It could calm her down and make everything feel alright. The smile that gave her strength to face the world.
He turned and their eyes met. She froze. There was a deafening silence all around. Time stopped. They stood staring at each other. She blinked and so did he. She heard it then, a slow rhythmic thumping beat coming from somewhere close by. She felt it, a thumping within her, her heart that beat like a drum slowly building up a crescendo.
She felt rooted to the ground. Wasn’t this like her dream when they would someday meet? They would come face to face and be thrown back into time? Revisit memories they’d made together. In her dreams they would sometimes argue, sometimes lash out physically or they would perhaps break down and cry on each other’s shoulders. But then that is where she would snap out of her dreams. No matter how much she tried, there was never a suitable ending.
Then a brief flicker, the slightest of movement. She noticed a pair of tiny hands inching their way up his legs. A mop of curly hair with a pink band on her right hand. She wore a light pink tee over a dark pink checkered skirt that showed a plump diapered butt. And then a gurgle of laughter broke through the sound of the beating drum. He turned looking down. Breaking into a smile he bent and picked up the little bundle while she laughed even louder. That face, the dimpled checks, a tiny replica of the man holding her. He wound his arms around her holding her close.
His eyes met hers again and she felt something tug at her heart. She blinked. A sob caught in her throat and she thought she’d break down again. But nothing. Her heart no longer thumped. She felt calm. Slowly she turned away.
The memory of a brief moment shared between a father and daughter would be one she’d always remember. It had felt so right, so good. It felt like they belonged together.
A smile played in the corner of her mouth. She held her bag tight and let go of the pillar. Walking towards the exit, she felt in control of her emotions, of herself.
Six years was, indeed a long time.