She checks her email again. But before she even clicks the “log-in” button, she knows, there is no email- he hasn’t emailed her in 6 months.
He had tried to call her regularly- every month since the break-up, almost like clockwork. Once around 6pm on a Friday night, the other late on a Thursday. He called from a blocked number- deliberate. He knew she wouldn’t pick up if she saw his number.
He was right.
Nonetheless, she always knew that he was the one who called. It was the only missed call that didn’t leave a voicemail, follow up text or apologetic email prompt. After his latest call at 2.40pn on a Thursday, he had sent her a text- just three words “How you been?”
She joked with her friends- “Even if I ignored the obvious grammatical error, I still wouldn’t have texted him back.”
Sarcastic laugh. The easiest way to cope with a painful situation.
Because although she never admitted it to her friends or her mum when they asked with sympathetic eyes, in the coldness of her one-bedroom apartment late at night, she often thought of him. In bed, just before she lost consciousness. In the car on the lonely drive to work.
She wondered where he was, what he was doing. How his job was going, whether he was financially secure yet, whether he’d finally resolved the legal dispute with his ex-fiancé, whether he’d found tenants for his West-side house. At most bitter times, she wondered how he was going with his new girl, the Vietnamese single mother with two kids. The one who he refused to call his girlfriend.
“So she speaks with an accent?”
“Yeah, she can’t always speak English properly. I think it’s cute.”
She never regretted her decision to break up. Not once since they stopped seeing each other. That wasn’t just some lie she told her loved ones. It was the truth. No bullshit. But she wondered whether she would ever find passion like that again.
She was once watching the Little Mermaid. She was 24, sitting on her floral, squashy, orange couch on the second floor of her parent’s house. The sunlight streaming in mildly through the thick yellow curtains.
She checked her phone. It was a text from him.
“I’m downstairs at the 7-Eleven.”
She grinned. As she took the remote control in her hand to switch off the TV, she thought ecstatically to herself “Here’s my Prince Charming.”
She didn’t want to be one of those people who became bitter and cynical about relationships just because her first didn’t work out. She often saw those older single women around the office. Some had children. All had the frowning acerbic wrinkles around the corners of their mouth – battle wounds of a heartache long past.
It felt like somehow she had changed. Often she felt numb. It was safe, in this numb state. Nothing got to her- not being told off by her misogynistic boss, not being rejected by the cute British boy at the sports bar, nothing.
When she had started going out with the boy, she had some walls up. He had sensed them but intuitively, with his youthful charm and reverent admiration, slowly and gently knocked them down- blow by blow. But now she feared that the wall had been doubly rebuilt, with reinforced steel topped with barbed wire and snipers in towers- just waiting to shoot down anyone with the gall to climb atop.
Her phone rings.