She sits there, in front of the TV, staring at a black screen. The house is empty. It is silent. She hears the echoes of laughter. The memory is still there. Her seat on the couch remains the same. She does not move over to the more comfortable side. That was where her lover used to sit. She cries, one silent tear at a time. She feels the void. She gets up to the kitchen, opens the fridge, stares into it, closes it. She hears the neighbors, coming back home from their outing. She freezes. She doesn’t want to make a sound. She wants them to think the house is empty. It is empty to her. It has been empty every since her lover left.
At almost forty-five, she has survived the toughest thing a woman born within a respectable Christian family in Beirut needs to deal with: the pressures of getting married. She held on strong, always finding excuses, inventing stories, creating scenarios. And it worked. She now no longer has to deal with passing statements, not-so-innocent questions, or misplaced assumptions. As the years passed on, the pressure decreased, as all those around her had given up hope of her ever getting married to a man, and fulfilling her role as a woman.
She enjoyed the decreasing pressure, even if it was replaced with pity and despair. At least she no longer had to make up excuses. Without pressure from everyone around her, she could worry a bit less about appearances and expectations.
And that’s when she had met her.
A few years younger, a bit smarter, a bit more daring. They had met at work. It started off as a friendship. It always started as a friendship. But it grew. And grew. And grew.
And then they fell in love. Secretly, of course. No one could find out. At 43, she had fallen in love for the first time. With the last person she ever thought she could fall in love with: a young, vibrant, incredibly sexy woman.
The relationship was able to blossom on the premise that no one must ever find out about it. And no one ever did. There were whispers, gossip stories, and endless questions. But without any confirmation, it was always their little secret.
The first time they kissed, their hearts were beating frantically, like a child about to go on the most exciting ride of her life. They would share many more intense moments after that. They would cook together, they would walk together, they would travel the world together. Abroad, they delved into their love story, without worrying about what those around them thought. In their anonymity, they would give each other glimpses of how wonderful their life could be in a world where they did not have to hide.
Soon, they moved in together. A 2-bedroom apartment, of course, so no one would suspect. They would host parties, dinners, drinks. Everyone around them just accepted that they were the best of friends, because, after all, there was no way they could be anything more. And at night, when everyone left, and they were alone, they would clean up the apartment, their apartment, together, before going to bed, together, next to each other, comforting each other, pleasuring each other, loving each other.
And then they broke up. Secretly, of course. And she found herself alone, dealing with an emptiness, a loneliness, a pain that she could not share or discuss with anyone. She could not show her sadness in public, she could not cry with her friends, she could not stay in bed all day and ignore the world, which is what she really wanted to do. No one around her could suspect what she was going through because that would reveal her big secret.
So every night, she would go back home, their home, and leave her smile at the door. Her evenings were slow, long, and silent. Without anyone to share her joy or her sadness, she felt this pain would never go away.
Her friends would ask her where her best friend had disappeared, and she would make up stories. She liked to talk about her, and this was an opportunity to do so. She would tell her friends great stories and they believed her, and she cried invisible tears, always smiling, always smiling.
And she would go back to her empty home, their empty home, and sit on the couch, staring at a dark TV screen, with no hope, no love, no future. No one will ever find out about her pain, her love story. No one will ever find out.