I chose my clothes carefully this morning. It was Friday and no one at work ever bothered me about the way I dressed. I loved that I didn’t live in the corporate world and could pretty much dress as I pleased. I pulled out a great pair of jean leggings and a cute strappy top that brushed past my hips, giving me a nice, hourglass silhouette. I was a thick mama, I had boobies and I had booty so I made sure that my clothes flattered my body shape. My sister taught me that a long time ago. Once upon a time I use to purchase clothes that fit. If it fit, and I liked the style, I bought it. My sister is the chic who one day explained her reasoning behind her purchase of apparel.
“Catrina, if it doesn’t make me look great then why should I buy it? I’m only going to pay to make me look good or better. Why would I spend my own money on something that makes me look bad?”
Epiphany! Ding Ding Ding. Why indeed sister from the same mister. Why indeed! Now I buy clothes that not only fit but flatter. Trust me, it makes all the difference.
I breezed in on time today, more or less, 9:45am, gave two of my favorite security guards a croissant breakfast sandwich from Pret (my usual Friday treat) and hoped into the elevator populated with some of the Nigerians who had an office a few floors above ours. I was polite, whenever they threw out small talk I answered in kind but I wasn’t interested in encouraging anything more. They weren’t my style and I could tell by a few of their vibes and attention towards me that they were into me.
I opened the door and saw that Charlie wasn’t in yet. If she had been downstairs having a smoke break her computer would have been on. I was the last one to leave and nothing in the office looked disturbed since last night. I peeked into SJ’s room to see if Sonia was around but the air was stale and the office empty. I opened the door, turned on the AC and sprayed some Febreeze. Not bad, I could enjoy my breakfast in peace.
Just as I settled in, sipped my coffee, took a bite out of my chocolate croissant and began pouring through SJ’s emails my phone vibrated.
“Hey pretty girl.”
I smiled as though I imagined it being said.
“Hey Imtiaz. Good morning.”
“Good morning. How did you spend the rest of your evening?”
“Productively. I got a workout in. You?”
“Oh yeah, you work out? Nice. I didn’t do much, hung out with my brother, played with my nephews a little.”
“Oh that sounds really nice. How is your brother? It’s been a minute since I chatted with him.”
I chewed on my croissant absently, trying to imagine Imtiaz playing with Izzy’s boys. It had been awhile since I chatted with his bro. Guess we’re all going through a busy time. I figure I’d ask since his comment had me mildly curious.
“Oh yeah. He’s doing good, you know the family thing.”
I smiled like I knew all about it.
“Yeah, I know a little something something about that life…lol” I answered.
“That’s right, you have your daughter but she’s grown. So you probably enjoying the independent woman thing most of the time.”
I stopped chewing abruptly. Surely by now he and his brother had a conversation about me and he knew I was married right? Should I be coy or should I be straight up? I didn’t want our banter to end but if there was a moment to set the record straight surely this was it. And wouldn’t it be better to tell him now over text before he decided to see me? Wouldn’t that be the honorable thing to do? I decided yes. Now was as good a time as any besides, I was sure it wouldn’t be news to him anyway right? Right.
“Well I don’t know how independent a married woman can be Emptiaz, but I’m still pretty independent I guess.”
I held my breath and hit send.
The phone remained soundless for at least five minutes. My mouth went dry and I began to panic a little.
“Wait a minute, you’re married? Are you joking?”
My eyes widened at the response. I swore I was having difficulty swallowing. Somewhere deep inside I knew he hadn’t been privy to my situation and now my heart sank. I could feel this beautiful, unnameable thing between us was at its end.
“No I’m serious. I am married. Hey I thought you knew. I mean didn’t your brother tell you?”
I threw in the one chip of hope I had been counting on all of this time though I now knew it to be untrue.
“No Catrina we didn’t really talk about you like that. He never told me. I don’t understand how we could be talking all of this time and you’re married and you didn’t tell me. I mean really, after feelings are involved and whatnot. How could you not tell me?”
I felt ashamed. Now I knew at what I was only guessing at before. He did have feelings for me. He wanted this to go somewhere and I had strung him along a hopeless situation. But just as quickly as I felt shame I felt indignant. Why should I tell him that I was married? Perhaps he should have asked. And how was I to know he felt anything real for me at all? Men lie and bullshit all of the time just to get into women’s panties, isn’t that so? Why should I think he was any different? How could I know that he felt what I felt?
“Listen Imtiaz I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you before but it didn’t come up naturally, plus I thought you knew. It’s not like we got together and did something we can’t take back. We’ve only been talking.”
I read and reread the texts a few times. Well that was quite a reasonable response I rationalized. I mean really, we’re just talking. Where’s the big crime?
“So where are we suppose to go from here?”
“I just thought we’d be friends Imtiaz. We’d chat, have dinner, sometimes see a movie and just chill. I didn’t see any harm in that.”
I hit send and took a few gulps of coffee. I was scared that everything was going to end between us but at the same time I was relieved my status was out in the open. It was up to him now if he was going to move forward or halt.
“So that’s all you want? You think we can just be friends, have dinner, watch a movie and you don’t want anything else to happen?”
Did he really expect me to be truthful about this? Of course I wanted him. I wanted him from the moment I heard his voice. When I laid eyes on him it was a wrap but nothing is real until it is. Before that, it’s just a fantasy. And while it’s a fantasy the only person I have to be real with is myself.
“Why not? I mean if you’d rather not see me and we just be friends and hit each other up once in awhile through text then I guess we can just do that.”
I hit send and chewed my lower lip nervously. Man I pray that’s not what you want Imtiaz, I whispered to no one in particular.
“I don’t know if we can do that after all of the feelings that we’ve been dealing with since we met. You think we can do that?”
No. I think that if you see me it’s going to be a wrap but I can’t tell you that can I? You know what I know but does it follow that you want what I want? I want to complicate our lives for no good reason at all. This is a passing fancy that I can’t get out of my mind. I want to see you. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to deny my desire. I’m on fire. Can you understand that my Bengali tiger?
All of things in my head that could not be simply said. So I lied.
“Yes. Why not?”
“Ok, well I guess I’ll see you at 5:30 by the theater.”
I exhaled in relief that I didn’t quite feel.
“Ok, I’ll see you at 5:30.”
He was much more honest and honorable than I had given him credit for. My desire for him had been a plaything all of this time but tonight it had the potential to become real, solid, tangible. I should have been ashamed, torn, conflicted yet I was none of those things. I was certain, sure, steady. I wanted him. I desired him. I needed a cigarette and a walk. I was wired. I drank my coffee, answered a few pressing emails and grabbed my bag before heading out.
Odd, it was after 11am and still no word from Charlie. For this reprieve I could only be grateful.