As always, his text message had been brief and clear:
Meet me at St Pancras International, Friday 15th June, 3pm. And don’t be late. C x
And this time, she would not be late. Sophia gazed at herself in the mirror, pleased with what she saw. She looked good, and she wanted to look good, for him. She had chosen a denim dress and a pair of suede strappy sandals. He liked her in blue ― “It brings out the mint colour of your eyes,” he had told her. With trembling hands, she smoothed her long blonde tresses once again and examined her make-up. She hadn’t felt this nervous since their first date at Edinburgh University many years ago. She remembered watching him approach her on his bike: his bright smile and cornflower eyes, full of confidence and promise, and that thick floppy fringe of his, that flared like russet leaves under the sun.
She looked around the bare house ― she had put most of her things in storage ― and reflected bitterly on the day she moved in. The loud sound of a car horn startled her, her taxi had arrived. She would be with him in half an hour, and this time, it would be forever. The mere thought brought tears to her eyes, she had wasted so much time. Always so intangible. Her life had been just that, a collection of intangible, ephemeral moments, some happy, many sad. But today she would start again. She smiled at the realisation and taking hold of her luggage, closed the door behind her.
Sophia watched the streets of Hampstead fade away. The once so-desired neighbourhood had turned into a place of miserable memories and false appearances. She opened the cab’s window and let the breeze caress her face. She felt excited about going abroad. A new life in the continent was just what she needed. Away from everything and everybody, away from the poisonous gossip. She would begin where she left it ten years ago, on that gloomy night at Heathrow Terminal 5. She had a new sense of purpose, a self understanding that the twenty-five-year-old girl, who stood in despair, observing his plane take off, didn’t possess. In an odd way, she was grateful for the challenges that life had thrown at her. She had been capricious and frivolous, qualities she wasn’t ashamed of ― they simply belonged to her old self. She now saw things differently, clearly. She now knew that her life, without him, would never be fulfilled.
The cab pulled into the standby bay five minutes early, and Sophia felt relief. This time she wasn’t late. She walked into the station, bought a magazine and stood at the Eurostar terminal, waiting for him. The clock struck three, followed by four, then five, six and still, there was no sign of him. She had spent the last two hours pacing up and down the station ― watching, searching, wandering, calling his mobile and failing to get an answer. She stared at the screen of her handset and thumbed his number, she would try again...
A year earlier
Sophia listened to the new voicemail on her phone. It was from Tom, her husband. One of his patients had a complication, he was going to be late. She walked to the breakfast bar in her kitchen and observed the fancy envelope. It was Callum’s first exhibition in London. She hadn’t seen him for over two years, since he got back from New York. She heard he was dating someone, a twenty-six-year-old. Gosh! She felt old.
To be continued...
© 2018 Isabel GG