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Adena’s Journey Back to Kat

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Adena returns to a gloomy hotel room after taking a walk in the rain to think about what happened earlier. She retrieves a dress from the tall armoire and lays it down on the bed. Staring at the black ornate outfit with trepidation, she unlocks her phone and sends a text.

Adena:
I’m sorry, I cannot go to the party.
I’ll see you in our room afterwards.

Adena feels a raw mix of emotions, both anger and disappointment. Anger at Kat for having impulsively met with her ex, Coco. And disappointment with herself for bottling up her feelings of helplessness and frustration with her lack of artistic inspiration and visa issues. But mainly displeasure towards Kat for calling her out on what was happening to her all these months. “Damn Kat, why?”

She tosses her cell phone down on top of the bed and collapses onto her knees, grasping at the edge of the king size mattress and burying her face in the duvet. Now sobbing like a baby, longing for her mother’s tender arms to embrace her. Just like she did when she was 10, after her father forbid her from playing football with the neighborhood boys. “Oh Maman, deltanget-am!”

The next half-hour moved by slowly. Adena spent that time in a fetal position on the floor, in a kind of trance state that was finally broken when she heard a rambunctious crowd in the hallway outside her room. Then, unable to breath clearly from all her crying, she got up and entered the bathroom looking for tissues. Peering into the mirror she splashed cold water on her face. The reflection of a vaguely recognizable woman looked back at her, with swollen eyes and a red nose. It was a pitiful sight, to say the least.

“Okay, Okay, breath Adena. Get ahold of yourself.” She looked at the alarm clock and knew she had over an hour before the Soirée would end and Kat would presumably return to their room. Opening up google, Adena searched for direct flights out of Charles de Gaulle to Morocco, all after noon-time tomorrow. Knowing she had a 9 AM appointment with American immigration officials that needed her attendance, she could not leave Paris too early. So, with a click of a button and her credit card information, Adena secured her ticket to freedom, from Kat and from her current troubles.

Adena was on a mission now opening up her contacts on her phone and dialing a number, waiting for a familiar voice to answer.

“Allo?”

“Zareen?” Adena sniffled into the receiver.

“Adena-joon, are you alright?!”

Adena explained to her little sister briefly what had happened and what her travel plans were. Then asked if she could stay with her for a while, as she would not be returning directly to New York City.

Zareen was Adena’s only sibling. She was five years her minor and a Biochemist by profession at a bioscience laboratory in Morocco. She lived in a big house she shared with six other female scientists that worked for the same company. Adena had always been Zareen’s rock and like a second mother to her baby sister. And, Zareen was always Adena’s sounding board when she needed a shoulder to cry on.

“Yes, of course Aziz-am. You are very welcome to stay with me. In fact, my suite-mate Farida has returned to Pakistan and therefore I have a private room we can share.”

—————
There was a clicking sound and turn of the door handle and Kat entered the hotel room for the night. Although she had a dejected expression on her face, she looked absolutely gorgeous wearing her gold suit and black lace see-through top. Adena sat in the dark, on the edge of the bed directly looking towards her. The only light came from the ajar bathroom door. Kat walked over with heavy eyes and immediately knew, by the look on her girlfriend’s face and tone in her voice, what was coming.

“I’m so very sorry, Kat.” Adena shook her head and Kat knelt in front of the artist and took her trembling hands in hers. “Kat...I can’t do this anymore...I’ve booked a ticket to stay with my sister in Marrakech...Morocco. I leave at noon tomorrow. I will text you the address of where to send me my belongings when you get back home, okay?” Adena’s expression hardened and Kat collapsed forward into her lap, bawling and shaking her head in agreement. Adena laid her hand gently on the nape of her neck and just held her.

In the morning when Kat awoke, Adena and her possessions were all gone.

—————
On the three hour flight to Marrakech Adena stayed silent and strong, trying to only think about the new adventures that awaited her future. Every so often Kat’s face would enter her mind, but she’d quickly vanish the vision. But as she landed at the airport and was met by her sister’s soft dark eyes, her emotional wall broke and a waterfall of feelings came rapidly spilling out.

“Oh Adena-joon, I’m so, so very sorry.” Zareen held her tightly in her arms while Adena wept by the luggage carousel, in the taxi home, and in Zareen’s room. In fact, Adena spent the next five days in her pajamas in bed, in a dark room, mostly weeping. Adena was an emotional mess. Zareen didn’t know how to console her big sister, who had always been a pillar of strength. She had never seen her this broken. Nothing she did or said helped. Adena barely ate and just left the bed to use the bathroom and wash up a bit.

“Adena, I’m very worried about you. I’ve never seen you like this before,” Zareen said while rubbing her hair and her back. “Perhaps you should talk to Maman about this...about Kat.”

“No, no I’m not ready to talk to Maman. I just want the earth to swallow me whole, Zareen.”

On the sixth day Zareen finally got Adena to dress and go outside into the courtyard garden, sit on a bench for an hour, and talk. “Isn’t it nice to be in the sun, with the singing birds all around us, âbji?”

Adena sighed and lifted her head but kept her eyes shut, feeling the sunlight warm her face.

“Adena, do you want to tell me what happened between you and Kat? It may help me understand better why you left. You were both doing great when we spoke on the phone two weeks ago. Please let me in your heart, joon.”

Now facing her sister, Adena frowned. Zareen could see the vulnerability in Adena’s eyes and put her hand on her shoulder.

“I’ve been feeling artistically stuck for some time now. At first I thought it was due to the stress of my unstable relationship with Coco. But, it got worse after I was deported by American Immigration. You know, when I tried to return to New York form Paris, to be with Kat. I was eventually only able to obtain a short three month temporary-visa, which put a lot of pressure on me. I was living in her place, desperate to produce, to make money, to prove my worth to the U.S. government. Then, when I was hopeful my inspiration was coming back, something happened with Kat.” Adena said in a strangled voice while tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks.

As Zareen wiped away at Adena’s tears with her pocket handkerchief, a warm autumn breeze swooped down and sent the garden olive trees dancing. Adena continued, “When I was away at an artists’ retreat, Kat cheated on me. She was invited to a bar by a mutual friend, got inebriated, and kissed another woman.”

“How did you find out about this?”

“Kat actually told me as soon as I got home. She was very sorry, confused, and said it didn’t mean anything to her. But I knew subconsciously it did mean something, or else she wouldn’t have tried it. So, although it would be devastating, I considered terminating our union.”

“But you didn’t because you were still together, right?”

“That night Kat begged me not to break up. She said she didn’t want to lose me and the feeling was mutual, we had fallen in love with each other. So instead I allowed for an open relationship, where we could see other people but still be girlfriends.”

“And did you, did you date other women?”

“I chose not to, focusing my energy on my art. But Kat did. She was new to being with a woman, as I was her first. She was curious and I pushed her to try it.” Adena shook her head, “Yes, I encouraged her into the open relationship because I thought she’d resent me later if I didn’t allow her to experiment. Selfishly, I realize now I was happy to see her occupied with others to take the pressure off me, so I could work. But it back fired and we didn’t communicate as well anymore, she became irrationally jealous thinking I too was seeing other women, and I withdrew emotionally from her, us.”

So what happened in Paris, Adena?”

Adena scrunched up her face and dragged her foot on the sandy soil. “I’m not really sure. But she went behind my back and spoke to Coco, to find out why I wasn’t showing my photographs in her gallery. That evening in our hotel, she confronted me on my lack of artistic productivity, how I had kept my misery to myself, and how I blamed her for being uninspiring. And, at that moment it all came crashing down on me. The open relationship, the lack of communication, her jealousy, my being uninspired, it was all too much! So, I blamed her and I ran.”

Zareen took a moment to contemplate the situation Adena described. “Has she tried to contact you since? Or do you want to call her?”

“No, neither of us have. I’m afraid she doesn’t want to speak to me. I know I really hurt her when I left. Kat’s never been in a relationship before and, though she’s very impulsive, she’s also very hard-headed.”

“Well, I know another person who can be very headstrong, like Baba was. And I say that to you lovingly.” Zareen disclosed, pushing on Adena’s shoulder.

Adena scowled at Zareen. “I’m only going to contact her via text with your address. I need her to ship me all of my things from her apartment. My bigger items are in storage at my friend Firuze’s basement. But I left a closet full of clothes and some photo equipment at Kat’s flat. It’s better if we don’t talk on the phone. Time will help her heal and perhaps she can find what... or rather, who will make her happy. Kat can only figure that out by herself. I’ve set her free and I’m done dealing with her adolescent tendencies and insecurities.”

Adena crossed her arms, tilting her face up to the sky and closing her eyes once more, letting the warm breeze wash over her. Zareen knew her last statement was just a defense mechanism and she probably didn’t really mean it. Adena was probably just thinking, ‘If I cut you out of my life or deem our relationship not “real,” you can’t hurt me anymore’, to save herself from a broken heart.