It was the fourth winter for her and the twenty-sixth of her life.
A short brown hair girl with a half-empty glass of latte and three old notes sitting in the corner of the same coffee shop on Pitt Street. Hiding from the crowd and her past.
Her eyes were old, older than herself.
Her mind was away across the Timor Sea. To the island where she used to walk at the beach or read or lie under the sun.
She repeated the sweet memories from that joyful place with an endless happiness last year. The warmth of the sun that touches her skin, the smell of the drips of espresso in the morning, the sunset that burns as red as the summer wine, the sound of the guitar that louder than the roar of the waves behind it, the kiss from a stranger under the moonlight. Her home.
She remember herself as a dark youth of twenty-fifth who found everything amusing.
For a moment she wished she could be out there, barefoot and breathless and dressed in tatters, with no past, no future and no fear of heartbreak.
Or even no memories of a strange man she wish she had never met.
In the chill of the night, two pale blue eyes that burned like an ice looked deep into her dark almond eyes. The backyard that was as dark as funeral scarf was staring at them, jealously. His l sweet low voice and his warm soft hands were warming her too cold skin. At that very moment, she was high with his present. Intoxicated by her new favorite poison.
“Oh, dear Lord, am in love with this charming boy next door?”
She heard herself in a small thin voice, “It’s not real, isn’t it?” But she had forgotten what real was like. Perhaps she had never really known.
She looked at him all in wonder and realized, with a sudden start of fear, that no man is more dangerous than the man standing in front of her.
But she ignored all those voices inside of her head.
As fast as the foam-flakes drift onto the river, he was there under the sunset she only share with someone special. And she was also there under the spell of his soft touch. Fallen into all his sweet words that were as sweet as a new blown-rose. But she knew she was battling an endless war between her fairy tale and her rationality, once again.
Then in the middle of the magical unreal heaven he was giving her, she found the truth that struck her like a thunderbolt. Cut her deeply. Sharply. Sharper than any razor. She looked at him coldly, and found herself trembling. Her hand was shaking, she was looking for the way out, crawling to the door. And suddenly she could see it clearly, all the person he was and all the mess she made. She mistrusted his sweet words as she mistrusted everything about him. It was never real since the beginning. She was still looking at this strange man she was trying so hard to love. And before the night was done, she knew she needed to go. Because it was getting harder and harder to pretend that this love doesn’t kill her softly. “Go as far as you can” she told herself. Find a place where her heart could feel safe.
She was voiceless for months. Something had put a fear in her so deep that words could not reach her. She blamed herself that she should have been old enough to know that such gifts seldom come with their price.
All that she wanted back just the seashore with the white sand between her toes, the sunset that burns as red as the summer wine, the romance she had never known existed, the smile on her face.
But as impossible as it was to breathe, she knew that it was time for her to walk away. And realized, as much as she wanted to be loved, she didn’t want that kind of love from him or anyone else, where she needed to guess when her next heartbreak would be.
And yes she didn’t have any regrets for trying to love him.
But she did regret for ever forgetting to love herself.
And someday, somewhere beyond the sunset, across the Timor Sea,
She’ll be walking on the sea sore again, with someone who sees and loves her the way she sees and love herself. And she doesn’t need to wonder her worth, ever again.