In my Dark Corner
On a starry
Thursday evening, September 15, 2013, my best friend and I enjoyed a pleasant
dinner in the heart of Paris. The outdoor eating area of the small restaurant
overlooked the Seine River and the window view provided a magnificent
reflection of the Eiffel Tower. The famed icon, not more than a block away, was
ablaze with thousands of white lights. Sightseers by the hundreds stood with
their heads turned upward, gazing at the towering structure. Why wouldnt
we, too, be enamored by the City of Light?
Le Clos des
Gourmets, an expensive restaurant by American standards, had been recommended
by our concierge. With a sweep of his arm, charm and wit for enticement, he
guaranteed we would feel the heartbeat of Paris as we dined amongst area
residents. Trust not being an issue, we accepted his offer to make the
reservation and soon discovered the fine dining establishment was crowded and
too loud. The entrées were less than perfect but, the blend of
international wide-eyed tourists and expressive, cheerful servers made the
experience worth all the grandiose build up.
there they are.
And here we
are, Carolyn Hayes. The two of us. They are tourists just like us. She
grinned and cast a glance at the two men wed also encountered on the
train ride from Frankfurt.
I dont like the way they pretend theyre not spying on us. Makes me
nervous to say the least.
been sheltered too long. Set those detective skills aside and enjoy the subtle
compliments. Lets toast to our success. Past and future. She raised
her stemmed glass that reflected in the table lamp as if filled with
I raised mine and
tipped it her way. Best friends forever, Leslie Duncan. As I did so
I couldnt help but feel queasy. The two strangers had taken another
glance and then nodded to a lone man, muscular and sinister in my imagination
who leaned against the bar nearest the entrance way.
As the dinner
progressed, we were stimulated by more than just the ambience. Our spirits were
heightened because we had achieved our goal. Two empty-nester girlfriends
together in the most enchanting city in Europe.
friend for more than fifteen years, looked more beautiful than ever. My glow, I
humbly admitted, would have netted me a close second. We were happy then as we
sipped a glass of expensive Bordeaux and talked about this selfish adventure
and how much wed gain by exploring France without our husbands. No
compromise over which museum to skip, no groans or deaf ears when we discussed
the art. Delicious red winefreedom, selfish indulgence. Possibilities
held more promise than ever imagined.
On the return
home, our husbands would welcome us with wide arms and delight vicariously in
this whimsical venture.
collided with reality and all too soon Leslie and I clung to each other by a
thin thread of hope. Events led to altered dreams. Souls shattered, but yet not
broken. Death imminent.
I, alone, slipped
into utter darkness, an abyss so profoundly unreal the struggle to maintain
sanity lingers seven years later. I shudder frequently. Laughter often rings
false and tears fall unexpectedly.
unwarranted scars rest beneath sinew, but not far from her heart. Her dignity
is intact. She has become my idol, the image of strength, even though we are
more distant than ever. The terrible event that kept us captive to the whims of
violent men fractured our friendship in a manner that inhibits general
conversation. This was no laughing matter. Not one we could chat about over
We do, however,
continue to work together. To diligently derail, if not forget, the long period
of seclusion that defied all sense of humanity. This work effort comes with a
need to avoid extreme emotions that ride sidesaddle with memories of a dire
time when we were lost to the world.
Images have faded
but jagged lines and shadows linger long after chalk has been dusted off a