Perfectly Imperfect(4)

By: Harper Sloan

Like I said … today is the day when everything I have been working toward comes to fruition. Today, I choose to be a better me. One who doesn’t hate herself. One who isn’t so self-conscious of everyone around her.

Today, I choose strength.

I just pray the daily battle warring inside of me makes that choice possible.

I DRUM MY FINGERS AGAINST my crossed legs as the cab takes me closer to my attorney’s office. The fabric of my black slacks leaves me uncomfortably warm in the shockingly warm weather of late spring in New York City. We have been stuck in such cool weather for so long that I had forgotten what it felt like to be sweaty. Of course, that could also have a lot to do with where I’m going and not the actual weather.

Pulling out my phone, I flip the camera to look at my reflection. I cringe when I see how pale I look. My dark brown hair hangs like a flat curtain against my pasty skin. My eyes, having lost the sparkle of mischief a long time ago, look dead and scared. Actually, more accurately, they look like crap. Dead, brown crap.

To be fair, my eyes aren’t the problem. I look like crap.

So much for that pep talk before you left the apartment, Will. Great job.

Locking my phone, I shove it back into my purse and press my head against the seat.

This morning started out so well. Until I walked out the door and a series of unfortunate events kept knocking me down like well-placed checkers.

First, my only pair of attractive heels snapped the second I slipped my foot inside them, forcing me to wear an old, worn pair that look more like something my grandmother would have worn. Then, the elegant chignon I had worked so hard to put my hair into lasted about two seconds before rejecting the bobby pins and falling back down to thick waves. Naturally, since I had been running late, I was stuck with my hair down around my face, which I feared would make me look weak ... as if I was hiding. And to add to my already dwindling confidence, the button on my dress pants—the ones that actually make me look good because they’re a size too big—was missing. My carefully planned ‘power outfit’ instantly died, and now, I’m stuck in the only other pair I had, the ones that are a size too small and cut circulation off to my legs.

It was one thing after the next until I was a frazzled mess hailing a cab and rushing to my meeting.

Despite all that earlier confidence, knowing that I’m about to come face-to-face with Brad after not seeing him for six months is starting to wear me thin. The last time I saw his stupidly attractive face had been while he was in the throes of pleasure as my sister rode his naked and grunting body.

But ready or not, it’s time for me to put another gloomy chapter behind me and continue to pick up the pieces of my jacked-up life.

My palms are sweaty and my hands shake just as much as my legs tremble as I walk into the office of Buchanan and Buchanan. Taking a timid side-glance around the swanky office, I take a deep breath when I don’t see Brad. Thank God.

I’ve always hated waiting in this lobby. The firm offers a wide array of services, so finding the lobby empty like it is today is uncommon. Regardless of that fact, it still feels like an expensively decorated holding cell.

Stepping up to the receptionist’s desk, I softly say, “Ms. Tate for Randy Buchanan, please.” She doesn’t look up from her computer; she raises one thin, perfectly manicured finger, which I’m guessing is a signal to wait, before she points over at the seating area to my left.

Right. Dismissed.

My nerves do nothing but jump up the charts as I sit there and wring my fingers together. My earlier determination to be confident and strong dies with each second that ticks by. Once again, I’m that weak, little girl I’ve hated for the last decade. My purse strap digs into my shoulders as I sit there, rigid and full of fear. I loathe feeling like this. I’ve worked hard not to feel like this. Constantly nervous. Afraid of what others think about me. So unsure of myself. I know why I feel like this. And I hate that even after all these months apart, months I’ve worked hard to change, knowing Brad will be here has me reverting instantly. He was the catalyst for all my problems spiraling out of control, so it makes sense that just the mention of seeing him again has me regressing to that person. Years of being his verbal whipping post, making it a struggle to enjoy the simplest of tasks without fear, are piling thick on my shoulders.