22 – CHAPTER V: ALONG CAME HER CALL

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I was haunted by the most perverse dreams. All of them involved Eva, most, or some other faceless man, where they made love; her face a picture of ecstasy, while I watched, powerless, uninvolved, obsolete, consumed by jealousy, helpless, forgotten.

I spent the mornings after these dreams wondering where she was and to what extent she was pursuing her contentment without me. I knew that I had started it; I had taken the lid off that simmering pool of emotions, that deep well of darkness within her.

I missed her emails and text messages informing me of her adventures. True, it had been a way of taming my jealousy – I didn’t own her, though I wanted to – but it had also been a way to keep an eye on her while she was still growing into her new skin. To check that she was in control of giving away her control, that she had not been pushed too far.

The verity that her parents were standing between our meetings kept me edgy and unreasonably green-eyed. I couldn’t help thinking about her. It seemed like my entire thoughts orbited around her existence.

I was aware of my contradictions, accepted them, but acceptance didn’t make finding the right path easier.

The jumble of thoughts swirled around inside my head.

Images raced through my mind, of bad films seen an eternity ago, of events in exploitative novels that had once tickled my fancy, picturing Eva in some Arabian or African marketplace, sand swirling all around, while the burly, dark-skinned slave masters advertised her. Maybe in those wakening dreams she was wearing a veil, maybe she wasn’t, but in every loop that flew across the horizon of my imagination, her spirit was nuder than nude, so terribly exposed, on display for all to see, fragile. Or she was dragged from a bamboo cage on the bridge of a pirate ship, the consequence of kidnapping on the high seas and soon about to be acquired by some Oriental prince for his amusement.

I was losing her. And I couldn’t do anything about it.

I wasn’t in a position where I was permitted to call her, didn’t want to fan the flames of any quarrels with her family. We’d agreed she’d call once able to.

I waited for her call for days. I spent my hours roaming through malls looking for distractions of the shopaholic variety and dropping in to see mindless action movies in the hope they might help me take my mind off things, but the call never came. For a second I thought she might be torturing me on purpose, ensuring my mind was ablaze with yearning by the time she made contact with me. But why would Eva ever seek revenge upon me? Every time I entered an auditorium, I adjusted my mobile phone to vibrate in the hope of news during the screening, but to no avail.

I was becoming scared of my own thoughts, of the inevitability of the path I was moving towards.

I missed her.

It was late evening now. I slid behind the wheel of my mother’s car and took a breath before expertly backing out of the parking space. The road had been nearly empty when I arrived, but was now jammed with cars.

Thoughts of her still flooded my mind, the image of her looking back at me, last time I drove her home, ran through my mind on repeat as I negotiated some odd car coming the other way on the avenue and barely avoided a cat, racing to safety on the other side.

Back home, I quickly slipped out of my clothes and collapsed back onto my narrow bed, not even bothering to shower. There was nothing to do for another week. So much time to kill, too much time to think. I tried to read, but the words of every single book I picked up just became a blur and I was unable to concentrate on a plot or subject matter.

Neither would sleep come and soothe the storm raging within.

Even studying had never been like this to me. I’d always fine-tuned my lectures, though I was careful to vary my material, keep things fresh. I had enough notes ready and was always quick enough on my feet that I needed very little time to prepare. But not any longer, now that Eva’s departed.

Then, at two in the morning, one balmy night with the windows open wide to the city’s heat and the regular sound of sirens from ambulances and police cars rushing down the canyons of the avenue, my phone beeped.

Along came her call.

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