I am restless - I turn to look at my clock. Gosh, it's 3.30am and I am still wide awake. Another one of those nights. Way too many - not even make up and concealers’ are helping now to cover the dark circles and massive eye-bags that seem to have settled permanently and happily in my face. I sit up, quietly since you're fast asleep. I am tilting my head to get a better look at you. You look so peaceful and contend. I see a little smile on your lips forming and quickly disappearing. You still look great. Granted your stubbles have turned a little grey, giving you this "salt-and-pepper look", which makes handsome men into even more handsome middle-aged men. Your eyes have cute little wrinkles from all the fun and laughter you have had back in the days. However, the laughter and fun we used to have, has left the building. I get sad and wonder when that happened. I recall, you used to look at me in this special kind of way. Like you're looking right into me, like you could see my soul, my thoughts and emotions, without me ever having uttered a word. Your eyes and the way you looked at me for the first time instantly caught my attention. It felt like drowning when our eyes met - at that party. Do you remember, I wonder. It was one of those magical moments which you can't emulate but will never forget. It will follow you for the rest of your life; followed by a heart-felt sigh. We talked all night long, entirely forgetting the people around us. The party was long over when we realized that no one was left but us - still sitting, talking, smiling and sharing. It was great and so very special. It was the beginning of us. Of our story. Of our union. We didn't know it then but we both sensed that something special has happened.
Now, 10 years later, I still look at you. Look at your soft brown hair with the little stubborn curl in your neck that you hate so much. I giggle softly. I can picture you standing in front of the bathroom mirror, frowning because of that particular curl. I keep telling you how cute it is and how much I like that curl - you look at my reflection in the mirror, frown and continue fussing with it.
It has been a while since we talked all night long and shared and smiled and giggled. It has been a while since you looked at me that way. These days, our eyes hardly meet. You glance passed me or look at me without really seeing me. I don't know why but suddenly I remember an article in one of those women' magazines. The kind that has those useless fashion pages, with items, no mere mortal will ever be able to afford, unless you sell a kidney or other organ. The article was actually pretty interesting and insightful - surprisingly. It posed the question "How do you know that he is the one?" Well, I thought, that's easy - you just know. But that was back in the days. When our love was still fresh and innocent and all those habits were still deemed cute and not annoying like today. I thought about this article and realized that today I couldn't answer that question so easily anymore. We still love each other, I am sure, but things have changed. WE have changed. It's natural but I always thought we would grow and develop together, at the same time and certainly in the same direction. But I had to learn the hard way that this was not a given.
Suddenly I realize that you are looking at me. Your eyes are sleepy and you give me a puzzled look. "What's going on", you ask. You sound annoyed and bothered. "Good morning handsome", I say. You frown, yawn, scratch und turn to get a look at the clock. "Geez Farrah, you know what time it is? How long have you been up and why are you staring at me like that?". You are angry now and expecting me to answer. "I couldn’t sleep...too many thoughts in my head I guess", I respond hastily, "Sorry, go back to bed." You just look at me, roll your eyes and turn over to the other side.
I climb out of bed and walk into our en-suite bathroom. I turn on the tab and let the cold water run over my hands. I cup some water in both hands and splash it into my face. Drops of water run down my neck. I use my fingers to go through my hair. I look at myself in the mirror, I pose, smile. Suddenly and without any prior warning I realize it. It hits me like a lightning-bolt. Something needs to change and quick.
It rains, as usual, I hate it. I am sitting in this little coffee place off Regents Street and ponder when exactly my life turned into a scene out of a really depressing soap opera. Love triangles, cover-ups, lies, constant guilty feelings and family and friends who are left in the dark. "Life sucks sometimes, get over it Salili" Farrah would say. I hate when she calls me Salili, it sounds ridiculous and is so not a reflection of my character. I am 35 for heavens' sake, isn't it about time I get a decent nick? Yes, I know, life sometimes sucks, but it seems to suck more often than not lately. How did I get into this mess? It started with this stupid evening. Why did Farrah drag me to the Turkish restaurant? Did she know or was this really just a major coincidence? It is too late, we arrived, I am starting to sweat. Panick sweat, it always happens when I am out of my comfort zone. We are walking in. The beautifully carved mahogany swing doors close behind us. The constant noise so familiar to London suddenly disappears. It is like entering a paralel world. The entrance of the restaurant is beautiful. All covered in decadent fabrics in orange, gold, rich turquoise and intricate Turkish paterns. Soft oriental music plays in the background. It's nice and warm and the smell of exotic spices makes me feel like I am embarking on a romantic trip out of Arabian Nights. I close my eyes for a moment to take it all in. The sounds and fragrances of the place become more intense - a mental picture sneaks in. Me, all dressed in beautiful oriental garments, surrounded by equally beautifully dressed people. I don't know where I am, but it feels like home. I smile. I am happy and contend. "Salili...Salili." I sigh and open my eyes again. Farrah looks at me curiously. "Where were you?". I shake my head and smile "nowhere honey, nowhere." I can tell she doesn't believe me. She shrugs her shoulders though, turns arround and waves a waiter to get us seated. The waiter nods politely, smiles and signals us to follow him. He walks deeper into the restaurant, I start to pray in my head. Why does he not seat us somewhere here?Why does he keep walking? Finally, we have arrived. The waiter pulls the first chair out and offeres it to me. I thank him and sit. He walks around and does the same for Farrah. He walks away for a moment, just to return with two menus in his hand. He passes them to us and introduces himself in broken English. "My name iz Hassan and I will bee your waiter tunightt". We nod politely. Hassan removes himself from the table to give us time to peruse the delicious offerings. Farrah is fully caught up in the menu. I try my best to do the same but I can't. My eyes seem to have a life of their own and keep wandering off, searching the restaurant, looking at the silent waiters gliding past the different tables. What am I doing? Playing with fire, a little voice in my head whispers. I know. "What do you know?" Farrah askes. Oh gosh, I must have uttered it out loud! "Nothing. I am just overwhelmed...the menu...I mean...it all looks so good". I smile and hope she leaves it at that. Farrah looks at me funny. You can tell her brain is working overtime and attempts to figure out what's going on with me. I smile my prettiest smile, in the vain attempt to convince her. I know it doesn't work but she just shakes her head, mumbles " You are weird today" and continues to study the menu. I need to be more careful. Damn it, I wish I could speak with her, but I can't. I look up again and suddenly there he is: Carlo! Tall, handsome in his nonchalant I'm-not-even-trying kinda way. Shit! I thought he wasn't working tonight. Farrah follows my gaze, smiles and waves him over to us. Carlo smiles back and slowly walks toward us. My head is spinning. Through his kitchen uniform I can make out his well-defined arms. My eyes wander to his chest and stomach. I can picture his toned six-pack and broad chest, as if I my eyes suddenly turned into x-ray machines. I see his strong, beautifully masculin hands. The pictures of the other night rush back into my head. I can feel I turn red. Red with guilt, shame and desire. Desire? What the hell Salima, my inner voice screams. I know. I wish I could just disappear.
I am ripped out of my memories and mental pictures by the coffee shop assitant, asking me whether I wanted a refill. I am confused and it takes me a little while to comprehend where I am. I smile politely and shake my head. No, I really don't need more coffee. What i really need, is to talk to Farrah. If only I could.