What were you going to say to me before I left? I am sorry that I was unable to stand there for very long. I want to know what you had to say.
I tossed the letter back on the table before I stepped outside to walk to work; I felt foolish for reading it again. A part of me was relieved that he wrote to me, but his question seemed more out of curiosity than concern.
The faint scent of cigars awakened my senses when I made a turn down the street toward the laboratory. A familiar young man leaned against the building. A plume of smoke escaped from his mouth as though he were a dragon about to breathe fire. For me, evil came in the form of handsome faces, dark hair, and piercing eyes.
I took a deep breath. I hoped that our short friendship would stay in the dark corners of my memory bank, but there he was.
I walked quickly past him, but he called out to me. “How are you doing, Zara?”
I stopped. “Good morning. What brings you here?”
I thought he had moved away to live with his parents again.
“I spoke with the doctor just now and I might be coming back to work at the lab,” he said.
“Oh, well welcome back then,” I said with a forced smile.
“Don’t welcome me back yet,” he chuckled.
Working with him again was the last thing that I needed to have on my mind.
“How is your writing going?” he asked.
“Well, fairly good. I wrote all day Sunday, actually.”
He smiled. “Really? What are you writing about? Spontaneous shit, or an actual book?”
I knew better than to trust his false facial cues. He was also a stage actor; he knew exactly what to say when he wanted something. I told him about the books I was working on and watched his expressions closely.
“I see you haven’t quit smoking,” I said with a wry grin.
“Not at all,” he laughed, shaking his head.
Smoking was one of the things he said that he would stop because of being with me. We were also going to learn how to master playing a few different instruments together and create our own music. How silly and dreamy I was for a woman of thirty and three.
“I really should start working,” I said. “Good to see you.”
He nodded with a smile. “See you later.”
A wave of nausea hit me as the rich Cuban aroma mixed with his cologne and followed me inside.
Bekka ran up to greet me and asked me how my trip was. I told her briefly about my time with my family, silently bracing myself for her inevitable question.
“How was your good-bye from Dauvit?” Bekka asked.
At my downcast expression, she gasped. “Are you serious?”
“We had a disagreement, and I don’t think he really wants to see me anymore.”
“Well, I am sure that it was all a misunderstanding. Sometimes men are temperamental after… you know. Perhaps you just need to apologize to him. Please tell me you weren’t sarcastic with him!”
I choked back the reply that she deserved. “If you don’t mind, I really need to get to work here. I am not having a good morning,” I said.
“I am sorry, Zara. I didn’t mean to come down on you. I am sure you if you both sit down and talk together, you can make amends.”
“Maybe,” I said with a shrug. If only I could cast off the whole situation with the same nonchalance that Dauvit had when he cast me away.
I found the doctor; speaking with him was refreshing. He had no part in anything to do with Dauvit or Dev, and he wouldn’t care to know any of the details, either. He showed me how to properly dissect the organs that he wanted to examine for his experiments. While he was very secretive about his research, I felt that I was closer to being made more aware of what he was studying.
That evening, I wrote my reply to Dauvit.
I was going to make a joke about how ironic it would be if the train derailed and I died on my birthday. A little dose of my dark humour for you.
I went to work with my writing. The lives of my characters and their fictional world became larger than my own. I fell asleep with my pen in my hand and I woke up without any remembrance of dreams.
My focus on my writing and working at the lab made the week go by quickly. Bekka and I were distanced by my absent state of mind, but I needed the space. Dauvit did not reply to my letter and I bristled at his carelessness. Some men idealized the idea of a creative female, but few were prepared to accept her for who she was. It was no wonder why so many creative writers had affairs and failed marriages when they weren’t thinking about ways to kill themselves.
On Saturday morning, I basked in the warm comfort of my cotton sheets. I realized as I stared at my dressing table covered with perfumes and lotions that I had a much better life than most people in the world. A few failed romances were hardly anything to be depressed about. I could have been tied down to a husband and five children. Instead, I had the open world to explore whenever I wanted to. I had the life of a free woman that I dreamed about as a little girl.
I dressed and then sat down to write a final letter to Davuit. I wrote it more for closure than anything else. His lack of reply was evident to me that he had lost interest.
You really had me fooled there with your mock interest. You wasted my time.
I went to the postal office to have it stamped and mailed right away and then made a small trek away from town. The weeping willows in the earthy distance caused my soul to soar. I had the power to go back to the world whenever I pleased. Being back in a more balanced frame of mind, I realized that I needed to prepare before returning. The animals there were a risk to my safety and I might also run into a stranger with ill intentions. I had to bring a weapon of some sort; I would also need to wear trousers for easier mobility.
The alternate world was going to be what pulled me to the other side of my melancholia. Of that I was certain.