When I walk in, she is with her back to me, restin her chin on her palm as she surveys the crowd. I can tell from her form that she is tense.
I pause for a second to prepare myself before I sit.
"Hello" My voice jolts her a little, I am guessing because it sounds alien to the sounds around us both. She whips her head round and her smile of welcome springs to her lips.
"Yeye..." she says in greeting as she rises to greet me.
I am amazed as my hands go round her in a hug that our reactions are so natural and fluid that if anyone in the cafe were to know in truth, what our meeting is about, they would be shocked.
We ask each other how the day has been, we comment each other on how good we look, we both avoid commenting on the fact that both our eyes betray our inner turmoils; we look good and we also look tired.
"How was your trip?" I ask her immediately I sit down. I have interrupted her mid-sentence asking me if I would like hot tea. She knows that I do not drink coffee.
Her hesitation is brief as I see her mentally prepare herself. She is realising that I am not here to beat around the bush.
"It was alot of fun." She says as she bends low and lifts a bag from under the table that lay by her foot. It is a black and white striped cellophane bag that I know she could only have got from her trip home. She hands it to me. I am slow to take it.
I know the gift is not a bribe. She most likely had planned to get it for me and probably did before it all happened. I am just wondering why she still wants to give it to me. Does she think that this will be a good enough consolation for me.
She sighs at my silence. I have not even looked in the bag. I place it at my feet.
"Cat..." she begins; it sounds like an explanation to an apology.
I stop her with a shake of my head. Now, I want to cry.
I am suddenly very tired and if I could look at myself, I would see as she sees that I am looking a bit gaunt and wearied. This sort of thing can do it to you. This sort of thing when the pain takes over your life and you begin to wonder if you are in control of your faculties as you struggle to claw your way out of the abyss your emotions and feelings have flung you into. This sort of thing where you have no answers you need but only the ones presented. This sort of thing where you are desperately praying for a miracle that will work in your favour to preserve the comforts that you know. This sort of thing when you know you have lost something great but you don't know why. I am weary. I rub my eyes. Maybe the pressure will keep the tears at bay.
"Girl...please don't hate me." she begins. Her hand comes up to touch mine but she thinks better of it as she in unsure. It hovers over mine for a bit and falls to the table, inches from mine.
I shake my head. It has never crossed my mind to hate her.
"How is he?" I ask.
"He is fine." I hear the smile in her voice and my head jerks up. She tries to hide it but I see her glow. My heart explodes in a million pieces of excruciating pain. I cannot scream because I cannot scream.
"I..." she continues.
"Did he tell you why?" I ask her "Because he did not tell me why. It makes no sense to me."
She sits back. "He says be believes there were too many people in the relationship...."
"Like who?" I want to know
"Well, he knows that B tried to get with you..."
"Yes I told him that in passing. That was before us."
"I don't think he understood that."
"What did you tell him?"
"That as far as I know, you have been true to him and to the relationship."
I know that is what she would have said. I just do not know HOW she would have said it.
I am so exhausted.
"So, he wants you."
She does not reply. She does not look at me. She looks down, at the table I presume because I cannot see her eyes.
"I did not come here to fight with you. He has made his decision and I have to live with it. The decisions are always his to make as I can see, when we do what we do, when and who we see who we see and what we say and when we say it. All I did was to take a step back and see if he would give chase and ask me why I stepped back. Maybe that was what he wanted all along. Maybe, he realised very early that I was not what he wanted and he could not figure out an exit. I gave him an out and you gave him an in."
I stop because I can say no more.
We both become silent.
"I am afraid." she tells me, and I remember that I am older than she is. Not just by the two years but in alot of other things. I try to smile to reassure her. My face does not make it. I look like I am in pain.
But I am in pain.
"I don't know what to do. Everyone is going to say I am a fool and that I am deceptive if I choose to go with him. There's you and our friendship. I don't want to loose that. And yet...."
She too does not go on. I understand her completely. I know where she is, how she feels and why she feels the way she feels. She is where I was, when I woke from my heart's slumber to find the world in bloom and the days in orchestra. When all it took was the recognise a number on the screen, the sound of his voice. Even now, I am still waiting...still waiting. I had stopped to check my messages before coming. She does not know that. Maybe she knows. Maybe she knows that my heart weeps that the wall of silence is now becoming an insurmountable blockade.
"You will be fine." I tell her simply or maybe I tell myself. Because I do not know if that is true.
I am too hurt, too hurt and too hurt. Because the end makes no sense. I did not know it had ended until it did and still I don't know why. I have to keep fishing for the pieces in every dump of conversation that I can find...trying to paint the picture for myself with the horror of pastels that present themselves.
And worse, I have to watch as life moves while I remain frozen, clutching at straws...he now clutches at her and she is trying to clutch at our friendship.
I realise that I am having a serious headache.
See, he told me to love him and I do.
He now tells me to let go and I can't.