Light and Dark

For the first time in my life I am disgusted with myself. Standing in front of the full-length mirror of the mediocre hotel and condo, there is no denying it, no looking away. The last four months have not been kind to me. My once toned body has become soft and flabby. Deep skin folds, love handles, and 1980s refrigerator-like cellulite have transformed me, but most disturbing are my eyes.

Muted conversations, people bustling about, and the occasional car horn causes my hair to stand on end, like the calm before a storm. Eyes dart back and forth, suspicious. A scream. Glancing to my left, a girl is laughing in delight as her boy-friend or is it boyfriend tugs her long black hair and runs off with her bag. She chases him. Both are laughing as they disappear around a corner.

Images begin to blur. The colors of the city become fuzzy. I blink once, then again. A cylindrical tunnel of black pinpoints the light until there is nothing. Panic rises like bile in my throat. Swallowing, I turn my head right then left when I hear it. The noise of the city swooshes in and out, like the sounds of the sea in a conch shell pressed up to the ear. The world begins to spin. The darkness consumes me.

Suddenly, I feel a bump. I am being pushed forward. A cold, sweat pastes my long-sleeved cotton shirt to my body. One foot, then the other. I stumble then catch myself. I am walking, cautiously at first and then with purpose. Eventually, I stop. Blinking furiously, light begins to appear as a pinprick until a rainbow of speeding color transforms itself into a multitude of pink, yellow, and orange taxis. Motorbikes whip by. I am on the curb as realization dawns on me. I have crossed the six-lane street blind. This jars me back to reality, or at least the reality that existed before the darkness.

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Fetid air wrapped in layers of brown exhaust, fill my lungs. I gag. People move about with things to do and places to go. No one is staring or wondering what a lone woman is doing out on the street. With each breath, the vibration in my chest settles into its normal rhythm. Why would anyone wonder? This is Bangkok.

Walking over to a fruit stand I attempt to pick up a dragon fruit and inspect it. Fingers that resemble mine remain frozen. Suddenly, hot white pain rushes up palms and wrists to meet the warmth of my forearms. Pins and needles creep back into my hands, turning them pink. Looking down, the black strap of my purse is crumpled. I iron out the nylon and reach for the fruit. The magenta flesh with its green horns is soft and warm. With my other hand I hold up two fingers. The seller smiles.

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Dragon fruit

Staring into the mirror I look deep into my eyes. They are haunted. Events that have shaped my life over the last four months will not soon be forgotten. I am changed. A deep well of emotion races up from the depths of my soul and halts at the surface. I force myself to look beyond my eyes to the table. I swallow and with it the emotion.

Slices of white fruit with tiny black seeds sit in a clear plastic bag patiently waiting for me. I turn away from the mirror and my reflection and walk towards the table. Legs jiggle while thighs slap together. I am eager to remind myself of the gritty texture of the fruit with its sweet juices.

The building is quiet. I am thankful I have a top floor room. It is in these moments that I remind myself that I am safe. The world for now is filled with light. I have survived and although I am no longer the curvy, toned, plus-sized woman I once was, I am strong and resilient, and I will get through this.

As I sit on the edge of the hard bed, I promise myself that I will one day share my story, all of it, the good and the bad, but for now, I eat.

 

This part of a series taken from the author’s memoir, The Colors of Sand, which is in its first draft as a completed manuscript. If you liked this, please click ‘like’ and if you have any comments, please share as they are always welcome.

Any grammar and mechanical issues are the responsibility of the author, and even though she’s an English teacher and does proofread, there may be some errors.

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