Thursday, August 7, 2014

Start Over

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The concrete reflected light from the midmorning sun. Bright, harsh and just the same as yesterday at 9AM. And the day before, and the one before that. Months before summer's heat set in, it stayed cold and grey until 10AM, after which the reluctant light illuminated the uneven pavements that unprotestingly bore hundreds of walkers. Some new and most who likely stepped on the same uneven seams for years.

Aura wondered if it bothered everyone as much as it did her. "Showing up to work is half the battle won!" Her father's voice echoed through her head. He was right. Because she did not want to show up these days. Not to work, and most certainly not on the pavement that led right to the doorstep of AB Banking. There was something about walking everyday, in her black 2 inch heels no matter what her outfit. It was usually black, with white or an occasional dove grey shirt, tailored just so, buttoned up to her clavicles, showing nothing but a serious, thought burdened countenance.

And here she was, named for all things magical, subtle, suggestive. It had been this way since that redefining afternoon five years ago, she thought, allowing the words to coalesce finally. Suddenly turning around, away from AB's doors that the door man held open for her, his warm smile turning quizzical as he watched her face, she ran away. She ran against the crush now, and her legs took her to the lake that calmly sweltered in the August heat. How did so much time go by? Was it already so long since....?

Shaking legs carried her to a bench off to the side. A different one from her memories. The ducks clucked closer to her shoes, as she sat still as a stone. She had to sit still...her brain was assaulted by images. Groping fingers, unexpectedly foul breath, a vicious hold on a throat that had known nothig but the whisper of jewelry, and the caress of breezes.

Five years since the man's attack on her person made her loathe herself. Made her stick to walking the same pavement to work everyday. Years of unspoken, unshared trauma that screamed through the constancy of her life and choices. Years of being safe from terror, and never rousing a man's interest for fear of history repeating itself.

He had been handsome and worked not far from where she had interned. It was supposed to be an innocent lunch time meeting by the lake, and then a stroll in the bright summer light. She remembered her floral shift dress of the day, bright crimson and pink flowers on a cream chiffon that was innocence and burgeoning sensuality. It hadn't taken long for him to lead her far from the lake and into a grove of trees. It had been beautiful. She also remembered thinking it was a romantic setting. That was until her grabbed her throat from behind, and growled into her ear, words that she couldn't comprehend for fright. She only remembered the fetid smell of his breath as he proceeded. She couldn't wear her gardenia scent anymore without imagining the rotten flesh smell of him.

*image 1
She had stumbled back to work, where her astounded coworkers scrambled to get help. The police found a few leads but nothing ever materialized. His picture was on a news channel a couple of years later under a list of deceased in a drug heist. She had been at her parents' house for Christmas and had promptly passed out. Nothing made her tell them, and just as they sensed that something terrible had changed their vibrant girl's personality forever, they also sensed that pushing for answers would break her.

She couldn't stand the loathing she felt. Of herself, her surroundings, her family, and yet, these were all she knew. And knew enough that running to another place would not piece together her broken sense of self.

The ripples on the lake gently shook free a tumult of emotions that she had suppressed under her stuffy jackets for years. She went home, bundled up her entire wardrobe and dumped it outside. She should give it to Goodwill, she thought. But her feet carried her of their own accord. Somewhere along the way, she had removed her jacket and dumped that in a   restaurant's trash bin.

He had changed how she thought of herself. She taught herself to be inconspicuous, and safe. She had snuffed her love of colors and scent...anything that would draw attention. More than anything else, she had refused to look up as she walked, look to a future, or possibilities.

It would change.

First, a trip to a counselor, then home, then to a clothing store, to buy another shift dress in cream chiffon, with no flowers. She would start afresh, on a clean slate. She would learn to live again; and learn who she could be from what she had had to become.

*image 1 - "Orange Flowers" by phanlop88 through www.freedigitalphotos.net


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