by Lara Mekkawi
Maeva woke up coughing out the last of the smoke left in her lungs from the night before. Her hair reeked of cigarettes and so did her pillow. The headache hadn’t hit yet, but it would. Why did she smoke? She hates the smell and the burning feeling in her stomach the next day. She never regrets the drinks; those she enjoys; those always make for a good story. But the smoking, it always felt unnecessary. She had three missed calls on her phone; two from John who hadn’t heard from her since last evening and one from Mark, who she had drunkenly been texting all night. ‘Shit,’ she thought. Why did she text Mark? Afraid to reread the messages, she deleted the whole conversation without reopening it. It was pointless to revisit them. Mark would always be a footnote in her story. John, on the other hand, required an explanation. She got up, impressed with the fact that she had the decency to sleep in a t-shirt and not just pass out in the outfit she was wearing the night before. She brushed her teeth, wiped off the shambles of the mascara smudged all over her face, and called John.
“Hey. Sorry I disappeared on you like that yesterday. One drink lead to another, and a calm night out with the girls, ended up as a rager. It was so much fun; I wish you were there. Bricks was crazy; we had everyone singing Bohemian Rhapsody when it wasn’t even playing. Rachel almost got into a fight, and Jes made out with the bartender”. She wouldn’t stop talking; not until she heard him laughing at least. When he laughs, then it’s okay, then he’s not mad or upset. He’d be happy that she was happy, and he’d make fun of her for being a drunken mess and always getting into trouble. He wouldn’t care about her not texting, or checking up, or not actually inviting him to join if she really wanted him there.
“Leave it to you to get party on a damn Wednesday. Has the hangover hit yet?”
“Not yet. But it’s coming, for sure. I don’t know how I’m going to do lunch with my parents. Can you join? It would make things much easier.”
“I wish, but I have back-to-back meetings throughout the day. I’m just gonna grab a quick sandwich at the office. Are you gonna make it to work okay?”
“Yeah, I don’t have to interact with people till after lunch. I’ll shower quickly now, and go lock myself in the office till lunch. Today, will be rough.”
“Good luck. I have to run; I’ll call you at lunch time. I love you.”
“Thanks, love you too.”
With years of experience partying midweek, Maeva had mastered the ability to be proactive while hungover in the workplace. Seeing her parents, however, would be straining. They would definitely get into petty arguments that she would have to mediate. She would agree with her father just to not stir him up, but subtly enough to not upset her mother, who easily took offense to anything and everything.
As she got into the shower, she pondered over the dynamics of her family; it was always fascinating to her how she went from being the child to being the parent. Her parents fought incessantly; her father constantly putting her mother down, and her mother constantly aggravating him. It was a relentless tug and pull that left a residue of bitterness wherever they went. It was the kind of relationship she knew she did not want to end up in. It was the kind of relationship she always found herself getting caught up in, until she met John.
John was the exact opposite of her father; he was confident and secure. He never put her down or judged her and instead tried to be a part of her world as opposed to taking over it. She often thought he was too good for her; she never thought of herself as a good enough person to begin with. Scarred with negativity and bitterness, she often found herself to be egregious. She often feigned emotion, trying to provide a balanced mixture of what was proper and what was her. Nevertheless, Maeva rarely exposed her true nature; amongst friends, she was seen as kind, friendly, helpful, and positive. Only her family saw her malice. Her mother never found issue with calling her soulless, cold, or hysterical. Perhaps she was all those things, or perhaps her mother was reflecting. She grew up feeling that those descriptions suited her; she was selfish, self-absorbed, and insensitive. Like a devil in disguise, she had to keep her callousness hidden.
She jumped out of the shower and slipped on the dress she had laid out the night before; she assumed her morning would be rushed. Without buckling her sandals, Maeva tumbled towards the door; she caught her reflection in the mirror and paused: her hair was damp, dress was wrinkled, and eyes were sad. Maeva knew she couldn’t pretend today; she grabbed her phone and called the office.
“Hi Sarah. Don’t kill me, but I can’t make it in today. Food poisoning from the other night, must have been the sauce. I should know better than to eat cream-based sauces in the middle of the summer. I’ll send the emails by tonight. I’m so sorry.”
She then called her father, told him she’d have to work through lunch and would not be able to make it; she was overworked and would make it up to them soon. That’s an excuse that would always make him proud: his perfect daughter, the workaholic.
She dropped the dress on the ground and got into her bed; shame overcame her. Today was still tainted with yesterday’s thoughts. She thought of fights, of screams in the middle of the street, of intense cries, of profuse heart beats, of passion. She thought about everything she had locked up inside of her, every irrational emotion she shelved away. She thought of Mark and wept.
Maeva rarely allowed herself to indulge in her own misery. Her misery was imaginary, she mourned a love that never came into existence; she mourned an excitement caused by a few sparks. Mainly, Maeva mourned the incomplete love that would have made her feel whole. She also cried for John and his coolness; she wished she could love him like he loved her. She wished he was enough for her as she supposedly was for him. Maeva ached because she knew she did not deserve his goodness, or really want it. For a second, she thought of her parents again. She envied and despised them at the same time; their fiery relationship was exactly what she longed for but did not want. She wanted the hot feeling but feared the cold front that came after.
Soon enough her eyes dried up and began to shut, and she fell asleep. Tomorrow, she’d be content again, emotionally stable. The scars of insecurity would be bandaged up yet again. She’d call John and go see her parents.