By the end of that week I had gotten around doing plenty of things I had postponed before for lack of time. I was allegedly sick, so there was no point in going to work and proving my best friend a liar, was there? I went to the hairdresser and cut my hair shorter, the curls barely reaching my shoulders. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with the result; I had been wanting to do that for months, but he liked my hair long, so I had refrained. I wanted to make him happy, and my hair had seemed such a small price to pay. Not anymore. I had my nails done, went shopping with my Mum (I desperately needed some new clothes) and had lunch with my friends. I packed every single thing that belonged to him and arranged to have someone take the boxes to his parent's house the following Monday –I had no idea where he was living now. For the time being, I left them in the spare room, which had until very recently been his study. I was planning to convert it into a small library, with a desk for my research and a couple reading chairs.
I had finally used the spa ticket my friends had gifted me for my birthday, and spent a whole day relaxing, being massaged and pampered.
And in the course of that week I managed to, if not forgive him, at least accept we weren't together anymore and apparently weren't meant to be. I felt energized and free, and although coming home to find the flat empty was depressing at first, I soon got used to the quietness and the freedom and found that I liked it.
On Sunday I had lunch at Mum's, as usual, and my dad hugged me close to his chest and asked how I was, again. He had called me at least a dozen times that week, worried as he was about me, just to talk. It felt good, regaining that tradition we had set when I was studying my bachelor, just discussing the news or saying good morning to each other. My little sister hugged my waist and then started babbling about her week, and the birthday party she had attended last Friday, and the boy who had stolen her bunny-shaped eraser and had refused to give it back, at least until she bit him.
On Monday I went back to work. It felt good, and everyone asked about my health and commented on my new appearance. I had banished my winter clothes to the back of the wardrobe, and my summer clothes were much more colorful and light. Coupled with the hair, the light make-up (which I had forsaken for the last two months in favour of a much heavier one), and the radiant skin after all those beauty treatments at the spa, I looked quite different from the girl they had seen just a week ago. On Friday night, when they told me they were going out for some drinks, I chose to go with them, a first since I started working there almost seven moths ago.
Saturday found me up and about at a disgustingly early hour, and I showered leisurely before getting ready for what promised to be a wonderful day. I put on some make-up, and chose to wear a skirt and my new purple blouse, which combined perfectly with my new high-heeled shoes. The girls and I were going out for lunch and then we wanted to spend the rest of the day lazing around in the sun. For the night we were planning on going to a dance club, owned by a friend's boyfriend. We had been invited several times, but hadn't been able to go until now.
As I grabbed my coat and handbag the doorbell rang. My best friend was supposed to pick me up there, so thinking it was her I merely shouted "It's open!" and kept on looking for my earrings. I had put one on, but I couldn't remember for the life of me where I had placed the other one. I finally found it under the bed (how the hell did it get there?) and I hurried out of the room, knowing my friend would be waiting for me impatiently.
I was surprised to see it wasn't my friend in the living room, but rather my ex- boyfriend.
To say I was shocked to see him there would be an understatement. He seemed pretty shocked too, and I guess he expected me to still be a wreck over him leaving me. I guess I had been acting pretty pathetically while we were together; I had been so sickeningly sappy my teeth should have rotted in their gums. Exactly the kind of behaviour I had scoffed at before; I don't know what came over me.
'Hi. You wanted something?' I asked, when it became obvious he wasn't going to say anything. His eyes wandered around the room, and he realised I had already separated his thing from mine. Good. It wouldn't do for him to think I was still pinning after him.
'Hey. Hum... Yeah, I was wondering if I could gather my things now, if that's alright with you?' he asked, for once faltering. It seems his confidence had vanished with the return of mine. Huh.
'Oh, I already had them packed and sent to your Mum's.' I answered with a dismissive gesture of my hands, picking up the keys and placing them inside my bag. It wouldn't do to forget them.
'Oh.' he said, his voice betraying his disappointment. At what, I haven't the foggiest.
He tried to regain his lost self-assurance, and placed his hands in his pockets. I almost rolled my eyes at the familiar gesture.
'So... how have you been doing?' His eyes searched my face as if looking for tear tracks.
'Quite well, thanks. I've had some busy weeks. You?' I could hear the clock ticking. If my best friend didn't get here soon, we'd both be late for lunch.
There was an awkward silence. I didn't know how to get him out of my house without seeming rude, and he didn't seem inclined to leave of his own volition.
Fortunately, my friend has always had a wonderful sense of timing. She seemed surprised to see him in my flat, but walked in nonetheless and greeted me with a kiss on the cheek.
'Hi Liz. Andrew.' She nodded towards him. 'Hey, do you think I can borrow your blue heels? I want high-heels for tonight, but I can't find mine anywhere.'
'Sure, help yourself. You know where they are, cutie.' She smiled at the nickname, dropped her things on my couch and disappeared into my room. Great, once again alone with him.
'You girls going out tonight?'
And didn't this conversation get more and more awkward.
'Yes, we are meeting a couple of friends at Opium.' And that was it. I didn't know what else to say. I didn't have anything else to say!
The uncomfortable silence was broken by Lara's mobile phone.
She reappeared from my room, shoes in hand, and quickly searched her handbag for the elusive device.
As she spoke on the phone I traded looks with her. Her eyes looked questioningly in Andrew's direction and then turned back at me. I shrugged, letting her know I had no idea what he was doing there. Mid-conversation, she held the phone against her shoulder and asked me: "Marcos says Michael is going to be tonight at Opium and he wants to meet you. He says it's ok if you don't want to, but he's been asking after you for weeks. What do I tell him?"
I tried not to look at Andrew, I really tried, but I knew my answer would surprise him and he always looked pretty funny when baffled.
'Sure, tell him I'll be there. Michael is pretty hot, and I deserve some fun after a week of hard work, don't I?' Lara winked at me, and we both saw Andrew's mouth hanging open. Poor Andrew; I hadn't meant to say that right in front of him, but if he couldn't take a hint... well, it wasn't my fault he had chosen to stay.
Lara soon finished talking to Marcos and we both gathered our coats and bags.
'I hope you don't mind, but we're going to be late for lunch if we don't hurry.' I said, motioning him to the door.
He shook himself out of his stupor, and soon the three of us were waiting for the elevator.
He cleared his throat as we entered the elevator and turned to say goodbye.
'Well, it was nice seeing you again.' He got closer, and placed an awkward kiss on my cheek. He left the elevator, looking quite red. As I fumbled with the keys I absentmindedly waved goodbye.
As the elevator doors closed, both Lara and I turned to look at each other and broke into an inexplicable bout of giggles.
I was definitely over him. And, well, Michael did merit some looking into...