I awake with a start. Eyes wide open, I stare at the ceiling. Two geckos are competing for a stunned bug. I watch their antics for a few minutes, then I become aware of the noises outside. I can hear the main road, the horns, the cars. I can hear the neighbour sweeping the garden leaves, the hotel owners talking to new guests next door. It must be quite late already. I have had a horrible dream. I was being attacked by Kiri, and they had to get him off me. I turn on my side and feel a pain shooting from my arm. I pull myself up and look at it. It is dark red and swollen, the faint darkening of a bruise starts to form on it, and it seems like I’m wearing an ancient bracelet. I look at my stomach, I remember now. It was not a dream. I have nail marks all over it. I touch my cheek. That feels a bit numb, but not too bad. I pad my way to the bathroom to inspect my face in the mirror. No, not too noticeable. I stare at my reflection. It’s still me. My eyes look a bit haunted, but it’s still me.
The knock on the door makes me jump. I hold my breath. I hear it again.
‘It’s me, Lisette. Are you still sleeping?’ I let my breath go and plaster a smile on my face.
‘Coming.’ When I see the look of concern and sadness in her face, I start to sob.
‘I know.’ She hugs me. ‘Let’s go for breakfast. My shout.’
She takes my hand in both of hers and looks straight in my eyes. I nod.
‘Give me a minute.’
We walk to the village, to a little local café Lisette knows. I’m grateful she doesn’t want to go to the beach. I’m not ready to see him yet. In fact, I don’t want to see him at all. As we make our way along the little roads, all I notice are couples. They all seem so happy, and I feel even more miserable.
I am really sorry. I love you a lot
I don’t know what happened. I’m so sorry
I need you. I love you
Please, can I speak to you?
I want to apologise
Maddy, are you okay?
Can I see you just one more time, please?
Maddy please, can I see you?
I need to talk to you. I love you
I’m really, really sorry
I can’t live without you
Can I talk to you please?
You are the only important person in my life
Please give me a second chance
The messages come through thick and fast from the minute we sit down for our breakfast and are only interrupted by attempted calls. It looks as if he has my number on speed-dial. There is no respite.
I’m not ready to see him just yet. I know I shouldn’t even look at the messages. I should just turn my phone off, but I can’t.
Lisette is not saying much. It just looks as if she has seen it all before.
‘Do you want to see him?’
‘No. Not now.’
‘He’ll come to look for you if you don’t go to him. You know that, right?’
‘He’s not giving up just like that. He will look for you, and he will be relentless. He needs to explain himself. Ishan told him what happened. He couldn’t remember one thing.’
I really don’t want to see him right now, so I go with her to Matara for the day. It is only half an hour away. There is not much there, other than a lot of traffic, dust, noise and people everywhere. I don’t like it, but anything is better than being in Mirissa and bumping into Kiri.
The texts and phone calls have not abated, and I start to think I need to hear him out. I need to understand what went through his head, but not yet.
Lisette has a friend in Matara. An active animal lover who is trying to set up a refuge for all the strays in the area. I like her a lot. We stay with her for dinner and only get back to Mirissa late in the evening. I know Kiri is at White Sands, Ishan has confirmed it.
I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Please leave me alone for now. I turn off the phone as soon as I send him the message. I lock myself in the room and fall on the bed. One part of me wants desperately to see him. The other is still not giving in to his charm.