She held my hand and took me to the mall roof.
It was a mall located on the outskirts of Beirut. She drove me past the people, past the Christmas lights and decorations, past the discount stores and past the free samples of food and perfume and juices set up as stands.
Initially I had agreed to meet with her after a month of texting and mixed feelings. But tonight she had appeared in another form: an evasive, dangerous and mysterious form I previously ignored was part of her.
We went past a faded-green door with a rusty doorknob; went up a spiraling steel staircase that led to a glass opening which I unhinged with my elbows; and finally made it to the roof.
She told me she always came here to think. To process things. To heal.
She’d brought with her two beers and she wasted no time in opening them and handing me mine. I watched her start on hers and drink it halfway in a trot.
It was a clear sky. It was a pure night. The view from the top overlooked a kids’ dream park. I observed the children riding up the rollercoaster and their screams increasing in crescendo with the ride. They waved at their parents as they got higher and finally waved at me when they reached the top of the ride.
I smiled. It was a happy feeling seeing those secure little kids getting lost in their playtime without any mixed emotions getting in their way.
Then I got back to my playtime: the girl that had led me here was sitting on a ramp near the edge of the roof with her beer in hand. She was looking into the void – her eyes drew a blank as if she was staring into nothingness.
I sat next to her with my beer still untouched. She was obviously lost in thought and I was lost for words. A part of her had slowly and discretely made its way into my heart and found a home in it. But there was another part of her that still owed much to another man and yearned to return to him.
She was conflicted and caught between a bad breakup and a sour heartache. Well, I was conflicted too, carrying the baggage of my many failings with women in the past but open to interpreting a new form of love with her.
Perhaps this healing thing she spoke about could be the spark we were both looking for. A mutual healing that could inspire a new form of love between two marauding souls playing with a piece of darkness.
But her attitude suggested she wanted to play alone. Her back was slightly turned to me and her head was almost falling between her flailing arms. She held the beer by the tip of her fingers and had stopped drinking from it.
Here I was in fine form, full of energy and determination and love to give for women, looking at a girl in need of reinvigoration. A girl in need of resuscitation and healing and an injection of fresh love. But my only mistake was thinking I was some kind of prince designed by the gods to alter any situation as I saw fit.
So I came down my throne and took her by the hand to lead her – just like she had at the start of this. But she refused my help. Instead she got up, dropped her unfinished beer, gave me a hard look and left.
That hard look was one of those things I had become accustomed to and fully recognized once I saw it – the ‘I’m sorry I can’t do this’ look as I’ve come to know it.
There I stood alone gazing from the empty roof at the sparkling city below, the shining sky above, with two unfinished beers – each in one hand – the only things I could enforce my will upon for the remainder of the night.