It was far past dinner time when we finally walked towards the small cafe that we had discovered two years earlier when we were in the same hotel. We had other things to do in the hours between checking in and walking to the cafe. A group of men sat at a high table and a smaller group with two couples at one of the lower tables. We sat down at one of the two vacant tables on the outside terrace. The summer sun had heated the air under the parasols. It was obvious that all the other people there knew each other. They probably all came to this same place to unwind after a long working week, or maybe even a working day. It was difficult not to overhear the conversation at the high table, as the terrace was small and the voices loud. We smiled a couple of times at some dirty remarks and naughty jokes.
One of the men caught my eye, elbowed his neighbor and said: “Hey, you better behave. What must those people think of you?”
I assured him that we can handle it. The laughter and joking continued. I think it was about an hour and a half after we have arrived and definitely after we had our late dinner that two young ladies drove up on a scooter. One was blond, the other had dark hair. They appeared to be regulars too and sat down at the high table with all the other men. The joking continued and the young ladies joined in. The dark-haired one wore shorts; the blond one a white summer dress. They both had their backs to us. The way those young ladies brushed off the horny harbor workers without offending them was lovely to see – so much confidence at such a young age.
As we stood up to leave the terrace and walked past the high table where drinks and laughter were in abundance, I heard a female voice behind me.
“Oh look, the lady has a beautiful tattoo on her shoulder.”
I turned around and saw that it was the blond girl who had spoken. She was beautiful with her blond curls, open smile and blue eyes.
“There’s more of it under my dress,” I said. “It runs down up to here.”
I had my finger on a spot just below my waist, on my back.
“Oh, may I see it?” she asked as he hopped off the high chair and came to me.
“Of course,” I said and held my hair to the side. She pulled the strap of my dress down and pulled the fabric back to look inside.
“Oh wow, that is beautiful. But you haven’t seen mine yet.”
With these words she immediately walked away from the terrace to the middle of the sidewalk. Everyone else had already lost interest and talked amongst themselves again.
Right there on the sidewalk the young blond woman pulled her white dress up, exposing a bright red string and the side of her breast. From the side of her breast, down to her hips were tattooed words.
“What does it say?” Master T asked.
“It says: what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”
“Why did you choose to tattoo those words on your body?” we asked.
“I have been abused by my stepfather for six years,” she said matter-of-fact. “He didn’t break me. It just made me stronger. He tried to break me, but he didn’t. Asshole was locked up for 2 years. At first my mom didn’t believe me, but then she did. She protected me. My mom kicks ass. Oh, and she kicked him out. I don’t allow men to come to close. Those men there,” she waved her arm in the direction of the terrace, “they all make these sexist remarks, but I can handle them. I just tell them to fuck off with their dirty fingers. Only my boyfriend. He’s the only one who comes close. He knows about the abuse.”
She stopped talking, looked at me, then looked at Master T and said: “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. Those people over there have known me for years. I see them every day and they don’t know about it. I have never told this to anyone, except my boyfriend. I don’t even know your names.”
She introduced herself.
“I’m in your eyes. I’m Iris.”
We stood there talking for about fifteen minutes. In those fifteen minutes she told us more about herself, but I also told her about the abuse I went through and that for many years I thought I was a freak that I didn’t have a trauma from it. I also told her that the older she gets, the more it will move to the background. I told her I run a sex blog; told her that she’s a strong woman, that it’s obvious that she knows what she wants from life; that she’s good at guarding her boundaries. I ended up telling her more than I would another stranger, let alone a young girl. I even gave her my business card – a link to my blog.
“I like you two!” she said and suddenly stepped forward to give both of us a hug.
“You’re a very special girl,” I said as I hugged her young body tight.
“Come on,” she said, “let me offer you a drink.”
We stayed for two more hours, drinking wine. Iris sat at our table for the bigger part of those two hours. Every now and then one of the harbor workers would make a sexy remark in her direction. Her words were firm, her smile big as she brushed them off. Only her boyfriend got a different treatment. A hug. A kiss. A gentle word. This young woman, almost 23, knows very well what she wants from life. That was clear.
Iris was sexy and friendly. Iris was strong and yet vulnerable in her youth. Iris was bubbly and yes, Iris was drunk too. She wanted to go home and started saying her goodbyes. I got a kiss. On my mouth. And another. Lips to lips. A kiss of friendship. No sexiness. She greeted other people and just as she was about to leave I called her back.
“May I have your phone number?” I asked, “I would love to keep in contact with you.”
“Give me your number and I will send you a text as soon as I’m home.”
I wrote down my number on my business card and gave it to her. It disappeared in her big bag to join the first one I gave her.
One more kiss; one more hug. A goodbye.
This was almost three weeks ago. I still haven’t received a text from Iris. I don’t think I ever will. Maybe because she still hasn’t found the card in her bag or maybe because she looked at the number and couldn’t remember whose it was.
Iris has been in my mind almost daily since we met her. Not in a sexy way, but in a way a mom wants to know her child is okay. Or a friend wants to know that the other is doing well. We will return to the cafe and I hope we see Iris again. Even if she doesn’t recognize us, it will be good to see her again. And maybe we will never see her again. Maybe it’s the way it should be. Maybe the second time will not be as special as the first.
Images of Iris stay in my mind. Iris in her white dress. Iris with her beautiful smile. Iris with her strong words; her gentle touch. Iris with her soft lips.
What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.
A lesson learned too young.
I still see her face before me. She’s forever in my eyes.
© Rebel’s Notes