The Clock

I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. It was 2.15 pm and he had to walk a little to get to the scrap yard, then walk around it to find a car that was the same make as his, see if it had the parts he needed, take them, pay for them, and return to the car. I reckoned I had at least 15 minutes.

Still, I wasn’t sure it would be enough. I sniffed a few times and folded the sun blocker down. Despite the thick layer of dirt, the mirror could not hide my blotched face and I could not pretend that the mascara under my eyes or the foundation striped on my cheeks was just the dust on the surface of the mirror. I fished out some tissues from my bag and dry as they were I went about rubbing and scrubbing the results of my unwanted outburst off of my face.

I did not want to cry. I tried, really hard, to keep it together, and not make a scene. But the things he said to me were too much. At some point during our argument I felt as if my will and soul had cracked open and along with those the floodgates opened until I felt the first hopeless, angry teardrops slide down my face. I did not move to wipe them, lest he noticed I was crying. I sat in my seat, silent, focusing on my breathing as my insides ached and burned, hoping he would just shut up and drive then do his business at the scrap yard so I could have a moment to myself. But no such luck. Of course. He noticed my tears washing lines across my methodically applied powder, seeping into my foundation and revealing my true colours. I did not cry like Hollywood ladies, with eyes becoming bigger from the glistening tears tumbling over their defined eyelashes, the face of innocence and pain mixing together to produce a sight that inspires the urge to provide protection and support. My eyes turned red and were accentuated by the black rims, the remains of rubbed mascara and eyeliner. My face had turned into a grotesque show of guess how many layers of foundations I tried to apply this morning and my nose shone bright as if the tissue I blew my heartache into polished it for all to admire. I was quick to blame the dirty mirror and use it as an excuse for the sorry sight that I was. But I knew the truth. I cried, and I had about 15 minutes to rub off the tell-tale signs and reapply a new coat of semblance of normality.

In the end I had no idea how much time passed as I sat in that metal box at the makeshift parking lot of the cursed scrap yard as I put a new face on and awaited his return. I finished quickly, mentally giving up half way through as I realised that the emergency make-up kit in my bag and the dirty mirror were not actually enough to erase the remnants of my embarrassment and pain. I was hurt by the argument and the things I had to listen to from him, but at that point I was more worried about him seeing just how much it affected me as my face was a clear signal of my ruin.

Like all instances in life, this, too, faded over time and became a distant memory. I recall my attempt to hide my hiccups as I willed my tears not to fall in vain. I almost remember how harsh the dry tissue felt against my puffy red cheeks as I tried to wipe off the residue of my shame. I know I was hurt, badly, by his words and way he spoke to me, but more so by what it signalled – that he would hurt me so bad that I could not stop from starting to cry, and yet he continue on his way with his little quest and trot off to the scrap yard for some very important male job. When he returned, I think he apologised, saying he didn’t want it to happen. But even after immersing myself in this memory and recalling the tiny details I just did, I still cannot remember what we actually argued over.

It is funny, life. You cry, you laugh, and you forget. You do it again and again until some events are tuned out and forgotten as new, or seemingly more important ones, demand your attention and memory space. I cannot recall all the times I have cried in my life, nor all the times that I laughed. But I do believe that a life lived well should have a lot more of the latter, if at all possible. And the thing is, if I am to be honest, that I do not wish to remember the minutia details of how bad I cried over an argument that I cannot even piece together.

Somewhere, out there, there are people who laugh easy, who laugh regularly, who laugh with abandon and with no reservations. I do not wish to worry about my face becoming red from joy, my crooked teeth and numerous fillings being counted by others as I open my mouth with a belly roar. I want to belong in the group of people who simply do not care, and in their jovial outbursts become beautiful. Laughter and smiles are better make up than any high end products they might try to shove at you in the department store, and guess what? They are usually also easy to come by, and free.

I have been so easy to tear up and cry over random videos, or a thought that occurred as I listened to an intense piece of music. Sometimes, crying can be cleansing, a way to clear the heart and the mind. It helps to keep moving on, even when things hurt.

But laughter… when a smile spreads so fast one is unable to control it and it bursts across the lips with a carefree abandon, making the whole body erupt with the singing of the soul – now that is a miracle cure.

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