Looking From the Outside
Shimmers of light bounce off the creases in the turquoise sea, a breeze rippling the surface. There is a clear blue sky. I can smell the salt from the sea and I can hear a deep laugh not too far away that causes me to smile slowly. I turn my head looking at the man the laugh came from meeting his ocean blue gaze. I kick of my shoes and strip my socks off and start running towards him feeling the soft, white sand beneath my bare feet. When I reach him he picks me up and twirls me round and I throw my head back and squeal like I am sixteen all over again.
“Natalie!” comes a slightly annoyed voice shaking me quite vigorously.
I take a deep breath and sigh before opening my eyes. I look up at the sky, hands beneath the back of my head deciding what shapes the clouds are making. I am lying underneath a white blossom tree with the sun peeking down through the leaves.
“Natalie?” comes the voice again softer this time.
“Yes” I say not bothering to turn my head to look at her.
“You were thinking about them weren’t you?” she accuses.
“No Em I wasn’t’” I lie gritting my teeth so that I don’t lose patience with her. She gives me a look that tells me she doesn’t believe me lines of frustration around her eyes and her jaw set. Then she just shrugs clearly deciding to drop it and let it go. For now at least. She takes a moment or two before continuing.
“Natalie there is something your parents need to tell you” she says softly not meeting my eyes.
“What?” I say anxiously as I sit in an upright position sure I am not going to like whatever it is.
“I don’t know what just that they want to tell you in person, today preferably” she finally looks up waiting for my response. I turn my left wrist glancing at my watch and nervously bite my lip.
“Well it is going to have to wait. I am supposed to be seeing my therapist in ten minutes and I am going to be late. That means I will have to run.”
With that I stand up waving to Emily promising I will talk to my parents and set off in a light jog to ‘talk’ to my therapist. This should be fun. Not.
My face is flushed bright red and I am breathing hard and my hair slightly damp as it decided to drizzle on my way here. I am sitting on a blue vinyl chair outside Dr Foreman’s office drawing out the memory I had earlier with my headphones in drowning out any background noise. A shadow looms over me blocking my light. I look up and see Dr Foreman patiently waiting for me holding his office door open. As I am putting my things away standing up to follow him into his office I am struck once again by how he looks for a therapist. He is married and his wife is about 4 months pregnant. He has blue eyes, sandy coloured hair, a strong jaw line and doesn’t look like he has aged a day since he graduated from university.
I settle myself into a wooden chair opposite Dr Foreman drawing my legs to the side of my on the chair. The office is pretty standard it has your usual desk and a computer with a photograph of him and his wife next to it placed so that it is facing inwards. There is a window directly behind Dr Foreman, his certificates and awards on the wall to my left and on the right is a bookshelf overflowing with neatly stacked books.
“Hello Natalie how are you today?” he asks friendly hope on his face that he might get something out of me today. Not likely but he gets points for his optimism and trying for the millionth time.
“Fine.” Comes my toneless voice.
“So have you remembered anything that happened the day you went missing?”
I just shake my head. I don’t remember so there is nothing I can say.
“Why don’t we talk about what you have been doing these past four months. You can tell me about them, the people you stayed with?” he asks nervously not sure what my reaction will be today. My jaw clenches, eyes cast down to the floor refusing to speak about them to him. Not just him but anyone. I am not going to betray them. Not after everything they did for me. Dr Foreman just shakes his head and sighs clearly giving up and scribbles something down in what looks like a black diary. He dismisses me and takes a phone call, I get up and leave careful not to slam the door before heading home.
By the time I get home I am soaked wet through to the bone. I go around to the back door taking in your typical rose bushes and white picket fence. As I grab the door handle and twist I take a deep breath as a silent reminder not to lose my temper. I enter slowly shutting the door so I faint click. Now for the hard part. I close my eyes and make a dash for the stairs. I manage to tip toe about half way up the stairs before I am stopped in my tracks by a shrill voice calling my name. it is obviously my mother who else has sonar hearing?
“Yes” I say through clenched teeth turning to face her forcing a smile on my face.
“You are dripping wet Natalie” she says half scolding and half stalling.
“Erm well yes I suppose I am” I reply nervously letting an awkward silence fill the air.
“Right I will get a towel for you to dry your hair and turn the heating on. Could you come down to the living room please there is something important I need to tell you” she says back to business.
“Yes of course” I answer whilst descending the stairs entering the living room.
While I wait for my mum to bring me a towel for my hair I take in the family photographs. I note how happy my mum and dad look. Things are not like that now for sure. Mum still looks the same. A kind heart shaped face, deeply tanned, green eyes, ruby red lips and mahogany shoulder length feathered hair. As for me I am the one who has changed. I now have quite dark brown hair with blonde highlights curling at the waist. I have filled out a bit so that I actually have curves and I am not just skin and bone. I have a darker sun kissed complexion and a handful of freckles across my slender nose. I turn facing my mum as she walks in handing me a red towel.
“Thanks” I mutter as I start to towel dry my hair.
My mum grabs hold of both my hands placing them inside hers. I put the towel down on the coffee table.
“Natalie love, you might want to sit down”
“No it’s okay I am fine standing for the time being” I protest.
“Right well you see there is no easy way to say this and it will definitely be a shock” she blunders not meeting my searching gaze.
“Mum would you just tell me you are starting to worry me” I say panic creeping into my voice.
She forces her eyes to meet mine throwing me a nervous smile before finishing.
“Honey you’re engaged!” she practically squeals.
All I can do is stare mouth hanging open as I crumple down to the floor. My first thought is ‘HOW?’ as my mind finally settles on his face.