Lunch with a stranger

via Daily Prompt: Dim

Unlike my usual style, this post, paints a picture with words …

I met her 20 years ago in the university cafeteria. We greeted each other, echoing the sentiment, “all men are bastards (but not the next one!)”. It drew genuine laughter from the source of deepest hurt. Today, she takes control of the spontaneity of our hug.

She has already ordered our smoked salmon. We toast social media for making it happen. My eyes glisten with affection for times once shared. She is still my beautiful friend, as she was then.

Soon I am puzzled by the dynamics of our friendship. I am from the suburbs. Judging from her love for chilled Veuve Clicquot at midday, she probably owns a seaside one. I am a worker. She works a room. She is still slender.  My body, on the other hand, is now a spacious home, that once housed my children.

She is constructed thoughtfully. Like art, she looks more beautiful when you step away from her. I am a random product of family genes. We do have one thing in common. I, too, visited a surgeon for years, but I was mended not enhanced. Scars, physical and emotional, graffiti my body and mind. Pain is a frigid companion in the aftermath of an accident.

The art of her surgeon is obvious. Like DaVinci, he had worked to a formula for that facial symmetry. I thought he got the math right, but not the measure of the silicone that flooded her cleavage.  She was ready to face the world again after “investing” $25,000 of her divorce settlement in her pursuit for new love. She was determine never to talk about children, fearing they would “carbon date” her. Unlike me, she laughs easily at this.

Decades later, she is no different. Time has stood still.  She is single again. Her profile picture is honest about what is not. Her tanned legs swing carelessly over the edge of a sailboat, red toenails defining her feet, behind the designer sunglasses she laughs provocatively at the sun. The Swan River below glistens like the two carats embedded in her ears. Her promotion is flawless. She is a screen siren. Sly responses from men whose computer keys are more functional than their once virile bodies ‘Like’ and Follow her Instagram faithfully.  She laughs, sex now is consummated with keystrokes.

Her sense of entitlement is effusive enough to dim the light of friendship.  How can this be!  Where did my friend go?  Did she lose her way?  Or did that happen to me?

As the table is cleared, we are no longer seated in an intimate, shared space of single womanhood. The distance between us is not geographical. I catch a glimpse of her world on the way out. Men, snug in their well-lived bodies line the walls where they can view those passing by, best. I recognise faces once prominent in judiciary, business and politics. Their mobile phones buzz incessantly. While their wives shop, they find company in a dating App, responding instinctively mid-sentence to computer-generated compatibility.  They pause and swipe right.

In the ensuing few seconds of frenetic texting, she looks up. Her smile is deft, she signals availability.

I walk across the car park, my steps heavy with a new reality.

I lunched with a stranger, today.

(Disclaimer:  This was a spontaneous writing exercise and a figment of my imagination!)

Until next time

a dawn bird

2 thoughts on “Lunch with a stranger”

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