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Safe Haven - Monday, Jun. 29, 2020
Monday, Jun. 08, 2020 @ 2:26 pm
En route to the protest, I stop at my corner store to buy face masks. I shop here a few times a week, it being one block from my apartment and being so small that there is never a lineup to enter. Flowers for my sister for her birthday, for my mother for mother’s day. Cream, milk, eggs, butter. A small pot of rosemary to grow on my deck. And, oddly, isopropyl alcohol and disposable medical-style face masks. The woman behind the counter pauses her Korean soap operas to ring up the face masks, which she keeps behind the Plexiglas curtain.
I walk out of the store into the bright sunshine. Walking towards me across the intersection in Chris.
I smile broadly.
He laughs in greeting, “Shannon!!!”
Two women accompany him. He introduces them to me - one is also an engineer at a competing firm. He looks very happy, radiates warmth and good humour. I love him intensely.
I realize that one of the women is someone that he started dating during the pandemic, meeting up occasionally, measuring tape in hand, and getting to know each other at a two meter distance. I know this because he says something that makes her laugh, and I see the way she looks at him, and then she moves towards him and touches him in a familiar way. She's in his bubble.
The moment that she leans into him, a stab of pain bursts across my chest. A claw gripping around my heart. I study her quickly and closely. Her long, medium brown hair, shot through with gold and grey - just like mine. Her smile, bright and large, and quick to form - just like mine. The creases around her eyes when she smiles, the freckles across her nose, her skin bare of makeup or decoration - just like mine. Her 5’6” frame, lean and strong yet still softly feminine - just like mine.
I can’t stand to watch any longer. I didn’t know what this would feel like; I didn’t know that I still loved him in this way.
I say goodbye and walk across the West End to meet Russell in Coal Harbour. We walk to the protest and stand in a group of thousands of people. I raise my fist in the air and kneel in submissive respect. I shout No Justice, No Peace!, but I feel dead inside and move through the motions mechanically.
Later, we make supper at his apartment. We grill meat and vegetables on his narrow deck, and sunshine floods the living room. He sits reading in a camping chair, his shirt off, his chest reflecting burnished gold.
I take a photo of him.
“I’m documenting this moment of you, so happy, reading in your sunbeam. I’m so glad that you got everything that you wanted [out of your new apartment].”
He looks at me directly and without skipping a beat replies, “I already had everything that I wanted.”