With every step, Vanessa found herself cursing Lynda and Tamia. She only agreed to meet with Tiago because she knew it was something that Lynda would advocate for. She always said that maybe what Vanessa needed to move on was closure. If it wasn’t for Tamia, closure wouldn’t be possible. She is the one who decided to ask Tiago for his number after Vanessa stormed out of the strip club.
It had been three days and she was still rattled. Tiago walked out on her without looking back and now he was getting married.
They arranged to meet at a cafe. Vanessa got there 20 minutes earlier than scheduled time. She wanted to get there first and pick a safe place to sit just in case he tried to hit her or something. She also wanted to be close enough to the exit in case she needed to escape.
A waitress greeted her at the door. She offered to show Vanessa different tables available. Vanessa chose an outside one with a clear view of the street and passers-by. She knew she was probably being silly and he probably wouldn’t try something but she decided that she’d tell him to sit on the opposite side and not next to her, like he used to do.
She called the waitress over and ordered a cup of hot chocolate. She would have preferred something stronger, something that would make the encounter a little easier but chose to keep a clear head.
Tiago arrived promptly on time – twelve o’clock on the dot. He sat down and they did nothing but stare at one another for a few minutes. Eventually when they tried speaking, they would either talk over one another or there would be interruptions. When Vanessa gave Tiago a chance to speak, the waitress brought Vanessa’s drink and asked his order. When Vanessa wanted to say something, Tiago’s best man called confirming that he had collected the wedding rings.
Vanessa wasn’t sure if it was appropriate or not but she asked him to put his phone on silent and she would do the same. For an hour, she didn’t want work calls or wedding plans to interrupt their conversation.
“I’m having a baby”, he blurted out.
“Hmmm. A baby? Wow… Congrats on that and on the engagement too. I’m sure you are going to be a good father.”, she said flustered.
“Yeah. I have a good job, I work as a manager at a… uhm… a wholesaler.”, Tiago spoke nervously.
“Yes, because a job is what makes someone a good father.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. What I mean is …”
“Relax Tiago. I’m pulling your leg.”
“Okay. Anyway, can you believe it? Me? A father?”, he said excited.
“Again. You mean a father again right?”
Vanessa closed her eyes, clenched her fists then let out a slow deep sigh. His excitement upset her. It wasn’t that she wanted him to be unhappy, it was just that it seemed like he erased their past. Vanessa paused and looked at him tempted to get up and walk away.
“I know I wasn’t a good man. I hurt you.”, Tiago said as he placed his hand on hers. “I took something special… Someone special, from you, from us, but I’ve changed. I go to anger management sessions now.”
Vanessa raised her eyebrows in shock.
“My fiancée suggested it and it has been helping a lot.”, he continued, “I know sorry won’t bring our child back but it is the only thing I have to offer you. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I promise you, I sincerely wish for it.”
“You promise?”, she said sarcastically. “Same way you promised you’d never hit me again after the fourth or fifth time. The same way you promised you’d stop saying I deserved what my stepfather did to me or the same way you promised that she was just a friend. I was in hospital recovering from the miscarriage alone and I came home to find your friend on top of you. Is it her? Is she the one?”
Vanessa looked around and saw people were staring at her. Tiago was looking down and tapping on his phone. It was what he would do on the rare occasion that she raised her voice, waiting for her to calm down and sweet talk her into forgiveness.
The waitress came by the table again, asking if everything was okay. When Vanessa said she was fine, the waitress stood behind Tiago, just over his shoulder and asked again if Vanessa was sure she didn’t need anything. Vanessa gave her a smile and told her she was fine.
Once the waitress was gone, Tiago asked Vanessa if they could go somewhere else, so she could scream or shout but she insisted that it was best they stay seated to avoid drawing any more attention to them and that his redemption would not come so easily. Vanessa joked about the look on the waitress’ face and how it seemed like she was ready to call the police.
Vanessa was unsure if she really wanted to know about the new woman in Tiago’s life but she knew if she didn’t ask, she would regret living with the knowledge that she could have asked but walked away. Even though Tiago had broken her heart, sometimes her mind would wonder how he was doing, if he was okay, if he’d eaten or if he’d even found somewhere he felt safe like she did with Kami.
“You never answered? Is she the one?”
“No. It’s not her. After I left, I ended things her. I tried to figure myself out, you know? Find my way and that’s when I met Thando.”
“Wait…”, Vanessa interrupted, “Ended things? So that means it was more than once?”
“No… Yes… Vanessa… Bri listen.”, he stuttered.
“Don’t do that. You lost the right to call me that when you left without even a note. Just finish your story Tiago.”
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