A heartbreaking story of false love and deception
My mouth hangs loose when I take in the man joining me for dinner. If this were happening in a movie, I’ll have screamed “cliché”, but it was happening and all I wanted to do as memories of him flooded back with a vengeance was clunk him over the head with crutches.
Angered at his audacity, I reflexively slam my palm on the table, drawing attention to us. “You cannot waltz back into my life whenever it pleases you, Hamza. I have adjusted to a new life without you in it. Get out.”
I raise my hand to halt him. “You have no business here. Get out,” I ordered, pointing towards the exit of the restaurant. “You disappeared when I needed you most; I have no use for your presence now.”
His eyes widen. “It’s not what you think!”
I snarl at him, baring my teeth. “It’s exactly what I think. You ran like a coward because you thought I’ll be maimed for life when it was your fault—in the first place,” I scream at him, getting up.
He immediately falls to his knees before me, thinking of how best to begin his rehearsed apology—I suppose—but I didn’t give him the opportunity to make an even bigger fool of himself.
I pull out the giant ring on my finger, disgusted that I still had it on all this time, and place it in his extended palm, raised in contrition. “If I’m grateful for anything that happened that day, it is the fact I got to see the real man beneath all the affluence. I cannot marry a coward who runs at first sight of trouble in his well-constructed paradise.”
He runs after me, and I almost trip over my crutches. Gently placing his arms around me to steady me, he softly calls out my name. “Memuna, please. Give me a minute to explain.”
My body instantly recognizes the voice that has filled my dreams with feathery touches of passion, hands that have touched the most scared places of my body, and his breath on my neck sends an exciting thrill down my back.
Refusing to allow my judgment to get clouded by lust, I pull away from him. “There’s nothing you’ll say to me that’ll me change my mind. I went through hell without you by my side. I thought I’ll never dance again, and you weren’t there to pick me up at my lowest point. So, don’t think it’s okay to come and explain anything to me a thousand days later.”
He runs to block my path out of the restaurant, and it irked me more. I had thought I was meeting a date for dinner, only to realize they he had tricked me. God! The embarrassment.
The first time he sees me in three years is me clickity-clacking around like an imbecile. I shake the demeaning thoughts off my mind, surprised by how easy it was to slip back to my old ways. The days when I stopped loving myself and allowed the world to dictate how I should feel about myself?
Furious at the tears pooling beneath my lids, I shove into him, brushing past him. “Don’t follow me. I’ll scream public harassment if you do,” I warn him, rushing outside as fast as my four legs could carry.
“I was an addict, Memuna,” he yells behind me and I stop dead in my tracks. “I couldn’t tell you I had a problem because I thought you’ll walk away if you knew. You are the only woman I’ve truly loved; losing you because of an uncontrollable weakness was too much to bear, so I hid it from you.”
My jaws unhinge. I swear, I hadn’t seen that trick coming. Feeling stupid for stopping to listen to him concoct more absurd claims for his absence so he could get me back made me want to laugh like a buffoon. “I’m twenty-eight, not twelve anymore, Hamza. If you think I’ll fall for that charade, think again.”
I see his hopes fizzle out from across the room. He dips his hands into his kaftan, bringing out a brown envelope. “I have evidence to prove I’m not lying to you, I swear. Please, you have to give me a chance to explain,” he begs, walking closer.
Flinching when he tries to touch me, I put a reasonable distance between us. We were the entertainment of the entire restaurant and I could see from the corner of my eyes some discreetly raised smartphones.
This was a nightmare for me, but I’ll not back down from the conversation. It’s been so long coming, that I couldn’t hold back anymore.
My eyes blaze with fury at his continuous audacious attempt to fool me. “You think a piece of paper will change my mind? Your father is a billionaire; there’s nothing his money and influence cannot buy.”
“You almost ruined my life. Can you imagine my utter helplessness when I woke in a strange hospital and my supposed fiancé wasn’t there by my side?
Not even a member of your family showed up to explain anything to me. How cruel can you be? You ran because you couldn’t bear the thought of being engaged to an amputee—It wouldn’t sit well with your affluent family because they’ll become the laughingstock of the ton. Isn’t that it?” I ask, fuming and visibly shaking. “It doesn’t matter if I lost my legs or not, what you did was inhumane and horrible.”
He bows his head in shame and defeat. His voice was so low when he replies, I almost missed it. “If you’ve thought about all that’s happened this way, then you don’t know me and my family as well as you claim. I didn’t leave because I was scared. I left because they would have jailed me for drug use, drunk driving, and everything they could slap together on the plate. I was as high as a kite, but you were too angry at me to notice it that night.”
He holds up the glinting ring in his fingers, placing it in the palm of my hand. “Memuna, I left because you didn’t deserve a man like me. I was a coward because I couldn’t face my truth, and I almost killed you because of it. I wanted you to hate me because it felt like a justified punishment; I asked my parents not to reach out to you. But now –,”
“Now what?” I yell at him, hating him even more with every word that spills from his lips.
He takes my hand with the ring on it and wraps it in his. “I realize I can’t live without you, and what I did to you was wrong. My action scared me shitless, but I’m here to make it right; if you let me,” he pleads, eyes glistening.
I step closer to him until our noses were almost touching, taunting him with the closeness of my lips. I close my eyes to savor the feeling of having him so close one last time before I burst his bubble. “When you love someone, you stick by them, not abandon them for selfish reasons. You were selfish, and what you did was horrible. Keeping the truth about your addiction has destroyed both our lives, and it’s all your fault.”
“Hamza,” I breathed his name softly as he did mine earlier, rubbing my chin against his. “I never want to see you again in my life. You don’t deserve a place in it, nor a chance to make amends,” I said and walked away with a broken heart and a shattered world.