The Broken Tango
SEHER heard muffle voices. People were having conversations loud within her radius when all she wanted was to have a good sleep.
And not just few people. She saw a whole bunch of oldies and youngsters, of men and women, crowding her ward.
Ward? Was she in a hospital? She tried to recollect her memories, but everything was spinning forcing her to stop thinking.
And please make everyone stopped talking, she begged in silence.
“Poor Seher. It’s been three months since.”
“And the doctor said to be prepared for anything worst.”
Were they talking about her? Was her name Seher? Why could she not tell anything?
“Is that why we’re gathering here today? Is she going to die?”
“I know! I had to cancel my lunch with few friends to be here.”
She tried to call for help yet she was still struggling to find her voices. Her throat felt so dry she could use a sip of cold water.
They were still talking to themselves! About food, of people with names she did not recall knowing, of soap opera dramas she was not interested in – but, none of them had realised she was here, had woken up, trying to get some assistance.
She recognized nobody. She remembered nothing.
What was going on? She thought.
The more she tried to put things together in her mind, everything around seemed to be moving too fast she couldn’t keep up. She felt sick in her core. Something was wrong.
She needed to call someone. But who?
These people looked strange and mostly strangers. She couldn’t rely to any of them.
She tried lifting her right hand, reaching for the glass over the nightstand, but accidentally knocked it over instead. The sound of glass shattering on the floor had everyone silent and finally looked at her –it was between embarrassing and confusing she wished she could disappear.
Only the silence stayed for few seconds as everyone kept throwing words into her – You’re awake! How are you feeling? Can you see? Do you hear me? Anywhere uncomfortable? – all too overwhelming she could just answer with a projection of gross watery vomit to their faces. It was unintentional, but she was glad it happened so nobody would dare to come closer asking questions she had no responses to.
She was in between unconscious and awake for a couple more days before finally had a grasp of what had happened to her miserable life. She was convinced of her loss of memories but other than that, everything else was just silly made ups.
They – her parents – brought her home after almost month of physiotherapy stay in the hospital. She did wonder if she actually needed those sessions but no one cared of her opinions. Everybody in the mansion wished her well recovery and finally left her alone in her own room.
But not too long when there were few more strangers barging in insisted to doll her up with few selections of evening dresses, shoes and jewelleries. Her self-claimed mother decided everything for her from the head to toe and again, she had lost the will to voice out anything or even questioning what was this preparation for.
She looked at herself in the mirror and she hated it. Hair that had been forcefully straightened, a necklace big enough to hide her collarbones, make up that only made her felt hideous rather than confident and the dress – too revealing on the chest which she thought not her style at all.
But you don’t remember your style, her subconscious spoke.
“What are all of these for?” she finally asked the helper when her mother left the room.
“Oh it’s a rehearsal for your engagement party.”
Yes, she heard the first time. She was expecting more explanation on the ‘engagement' part.
“You’re engaged, did you not remember?” the polite helper asked, with her eyes full of empathy.
Seher remained silent as everything had started to get dizzy back again.
“Mr. Selim is your fiancè. I heard he’s been out of country for quite some time now for his business but he will make sure to make it on time for the party. It’s in two days. You guys must have a lot to catch up since.”
So, a fiancè that doesn’t even love you.
That was what she thought too.
“Where’s this party? Are we having it here?”
WHEN a normal person would love to look breath-taking by the first glance at her own engagement party, Seher was fine with this dreadful coverup turtleneck dress, it’s length long enough to hide her toes, and a hairstyle that was pulled back up tightly and wrapped in a bun – which she chose everything by herself. Of course, her ‘mother’ did not see it yet. But looking at the way her helper was grimacing since the moment she laid eyes on her, she new this was going to be a great night.
The main purpose was to be a disappointment for everyone, especially the fiancé she had never met.
“Is it bad?” she asked in joy.
Her helper nodded repetitively.
The door to her private suite of this hotel was swung opened from the outside without a knock. She was about to shout of leaving her alone as she had made it a clear instruction, she was going to make an appearance straightaway in the ballroom.
A man whom she reckoned as Selim was walking towards her. He was tall, fair skin, dark hazel hair with amount of stubble just enough. He was already in a tuxedo that she could not complement at all and what a good news that was.
“I love you,” was his first three words, greeting her after nearly a month she had woken up from her hospital bed.
Be it with or without memories, that confession did to her nothing.
He gave an eyes signal to her helper, asking to be left alone and she obeyed to it. Seher did not like how this was going.
“Beautiful, as usual,” he complimented. She hated it.
He did not apologise for leaving her to deal with confusing life alone, but he did explain how he had put efforts to make it on time for this engagement party his assistant had personally planned for the both of them. And then again, concluded it with another ‘I love you’.
She thought, he needed to stop talking, it was getting annoying.
“And I missed you,” he finished.
She turned her back and looked at him only through the mirror before her.
“Missed me as much as not to contact me at all for the past few months?” she countered.
He walked closer. “You’re right. You’re right to be angry. But I’m here now. We can make up all the time we had lost.”
His arms suddenly circling around her waist, not giving her time to revoke. She was being pulled into a hug she did not want, and it disgusted her to think this was the man she was going to marry. She fought back with actions more than words as she knew nobody respected her sayings in this circle of life.
“Let me go!” she said in a firm voice, giving him some time to think this through.
But when he tried to plant a kiss on her back neck, she twisted his thumb and made him cried in pain, he had to forcefully let her go. She turned and gave him a kick by the crotch. She thought maybe she missed the first one as he was not shouting in pain as much as she wanted him to, so she gave a second kick that had successfully kneeled him down.
Just before she sprinted out of the room, she gave him a hard punch that made him bowed to the floor, grunting.
She was so enjoying this! Running through the hallway, reaching the emergency stairs from one floor to another, both hands holding her princess cut skirt, she could run forever. She had no place in this world, might as well leave.
She reached the top floor of the Majestic Hotel. The engagement party was supposed to be just below. There was no place to run anymore.
As she heard the voices of Selim’s people echoing throug the fire escape corridor, she knew she had to hide. So she pushed the exit door and thought she had escaped them with a simple broomstick she sneaked in between the handles to prevent the door from being opened by the other side.
But she hadn’t. There were few of them coming from the top floor’s main corridor. She kept walking backwards, step by step, not to get caught.
A sudden muffling music serenading this top floor caught her attention. She moved towards it. As the sound became crystal, she was sure that it could be the only place to hide herself.
She tugged off her hair bun and let the curls down all flowy. Like a proper fairy tale from once upon a time, as she reached for the ballroom’s backdoor, she saw an emerald-coloured dress hanging on the curtain rail. With the dress was a simple black masquerade mask, perfect for her disguise.
She was silently hoping whatever that was in there surely would involved masquerade theme or else she would only attract attention rather than trying to be discreet with this mask.
She took nearly two minutes to change, not thinking about any possibilities somebody would see her in undergarments within that short of time. Her dreadful dress was thrown across the corridor, leading them towards the opposite direction. Her mask was put on roughly as she heard the foot steps approaching.
She twisted the back door’s handle but it was locked.
Oh no, this ain’t fairy tale anymore, her subconscious was getting panicked, she might as well join.
She kept twisting it opened despite knowing it wouldn’t do anything good to her swelling hand.
“You need help there?” asked a low husky voice by her side.
Please let it not be one of the chasers, she prayed while turning.
Here just before her, an attractive man in a tux with a psyche she would approve of; tall, dark ruffled hair, black eyes underneath the zorro mask he was wearing, a bow tie remained unfinished hanging across his neck and she wouldn’t mind the undone button of his white shirt.
“Where is she?!” she heard one of the men shouting from afar. It brought her back to the reality – she jumped in surprise.
The man who heard the obvious indicator she was running away from someone suddenly cornered her against the backdoor, protecting her from being exposed. His hot breath against hers, so close to each other, mouths just an inch away – she suddenly had a temperature rise.
“Are you in trouble or a cause of one?” he questioned her.
“Both,” she answered.
He was contemplating in between to give her away or keep protecting her like this. When he finally made up his mind, he took off one oft he cufflinks and drew a simple magic to unlock the backdoor with it.
They were a minute away from being caught just as he had managed to push the door opened and they made it into the dark ballroom. She was unsure if the adrenaline rush she was feeling was due to the massive running or it was just him.
Definitely running, she kept denying.
Oh it was dark in here and no music as she expected.
She looked at him by the corner of her eyes, pretending she was not that interested to find his figure in the dark. He was still attractive even under the dimmed sight, by the way. But her hand kept trying to reach him so she didn’t fall on anything. As if he knew, he offered his arm for her to tugged into.
A sudden loud music ala Latino echoed through the hall startled her. One second after, a spotlight was focused on the both of them. She had to squint to adjust to the bright light and eventually saw the ballroom had been filled up with people staring at them.
Talk about not making an entrance.
“Now let’s welcome our first couple on the dance floor. Give them a big round of applause!” said a person with a microphone she did not see clearly.
It was too late to realize the backdoor they walked through had led them directly to the dance floor of this room. And people were expecting with non-stopped cheering.
“What’s going on?” she was actually asking herself more than anyone else.
He pulled her into him, spun her around one time before fixing her left hand on his shoulder as he was holding the other one of hers in his grip.
“Do you speak tango, missy?”
“I... uh -"
“Chin up,” he ordered.
He put his hand hovering around her waist, waiting for her approval to hug her closer. She liked such treatment, giving her options to agree with this or otherwise.
“But I don’t dance,” she admitted.
“It’s okay. Trust me.”
She finally nodded.
YAMAN thought his day was going to be boring. The usual ones!
Visiting the farm, orphanage school and mingling around with the villagers. But when one of the farmer said he could not deliver the urgent order of fruits to the Majestic Hotel, he volunteered.
How did he get to the top floor, some might have wondered.
He followed her, from the fire escape as he was hanging around after the delivery was done. He didn’t see her face clearly but he kept following to ensure she was safe. He was being careful not to interfere into someone’s personal matter but he had to follow her.
He saw her, changing herself into the dress, almost naked from behind. Her flowy curls covering her back just above the waist. He knew he had to look away, but he was guilty for not to. She was such a mystery, it was intriguing.
He found a tuxedo that would complement her dress right behind the curtain and only managed to put on the white buttoned shirt, the coat, mask and half-hang the bow tie across his neck as he heard the people that were chasing her getting closer.
He did not know what he signed up for, but it was definitely not a dance lesson. And a rusty tango steps he didn’t know he had it in him.
But here they were. He was hugging this woman whom smelled so good he had to pull himself together few times already. He was lifting her up, putting her down, following the tempo as she let him led the way.
Her eyes were so green they matched the dress that was just above her knees. It was a sleeveless sweetheart neckline dress that did justice to her plunging chests and collarbones. He wished he could take off the mask so he could recognize her for the next time, but honestly, he didn’t even care what she looked like – she seemed to have bewitched him here and now. If only he could tug his fingers between her hair then he would be okay to die.
“You’re doing great,” he complimented.
She didn’t say a word. As soon as the dance floor had been filled up by more dancing couples joining their broken tango, she let go of his hand and fled between the crowd.
And just like that, she was gone.
He settled it as a beautiful dream he would never get again.