Only parts of me survived being hit by that train- the ugly parts, those previously well hidden behind the mask of beauty. A gentleman walks passed me smiling and I can only garishly flash my teeth at him, unable to conjure up normal social politenesses. They are overrated- that is what Ann says anyway.
In the elevator, I face the corner, like a naughty child, safe in my small space, alone. Thoughts never cease within the quiet times, but instead control me racing me in circles until I am too tired to resist them and my confidence falters. I reach my floor, my door, my prison. I enter willing. I am both the prisoner and the executioner and for this I am thankful as only I know the cruelty within and what can break me.
I am not ready, but time has a way of moving regardless of whether one is ready.
He enters. “What a lovely apartment you have!”
I robotically respond, “Thank you and thank you for coming.”
I mention, no it isn’t rented, but owned. He is surprised. I cannot decide if he is surprised because I own it or because he realizes how little he knows about me.
We fall into a workable silence. It is a silence that crashes over me breaking into pieces only to pierce my brain. I want to scream, say something, anything to break the silence between us. But, I do not. I cannot. There is not enough air in this apartment of cheery walls and photographs that are not mine but someone else’s that never existed.
He senses something, maybe the flat air or my refusal to look at him again for fear of betraying myself. The subject changes to open cafes and the gentrification of the neighborhood. I relax into the evening. Wine and food, comfort I know. He chatters on about this or that, avoiding the recognized forbidden topics. Tip toeing around them like an adept dancer beautifully weaving in and out creating art out of nothing but sensitive words and well placed pauses.
He leaves. And a relief returns calming my nerves knowing that what was left out remains still intact and safe. Curling up on my favorite chair I release myself to my thoughts that bind me, control me.