The bar became smokier the longer he sat alone at his table. He had hours to kill before his flight left and his boredom exceeded his desire to stay sober. He watched from his perch as people came and went. Some looked happy, most looked stressed, all looked tired as hell. He almost didn’t notice the couple that came in, they were so nondescript. They sat on the opposite side of the bar, facing him.
The first thing he noticed about the woman was her flaming hair. How it hung around her face, across her shoulders, almost hiding her face. He wondered if it was intentional, the hiding. She seemed uncomfortable in her own skin if he was honest. He looked at the man with her and could see that she was hiding. From him. The way the man had his arm around her shoulder was not in a protective manner, or a loving one, but as one of ownership. She kept her head down submissively, both hands on the bar around her drink that he had ordered for her.
There was nothing loving or affectionate in the man’s nature towards the woman. She dared not look around the bar and he could only imagine why. He had a very unnerving suspicion that the hair was covering more than just her timidity. He felt his blood begin to boil at the thought of this lovely creature exposed to a man of such low character. As he sipped his drink, he watched the man lean in and say something to her and she nodded “no”. Good for you, honey.
The man she was with grabbed her by the arm and a wince of pain flashed across her face. She looked up to see if anyone was watching. She locked eyes on him across the bar and she flushed red, turning her head back down. No! Don’t look away! Ask for help! But she simply looked down at her drink while her companion hissed at her, gripping her arm tighter.
The man let go of her arm and stood. The man pointed to the restroom and began to walk in that direction. He saw an opportunity and scribbled a message on a clean cocktail napkin. He hurried over to where she was sitting and pushed the napkin in front of her. She looked up at him, complete shock on her face. He motioned toward the napkin.
Quelle honte pour quelqu’un comme vous d’être enchaîné
She looked up at him, confusion obvious on her face. “What does it-”
“What a shame for someone like you to be chained.”
She pushed the napkin back across the table. “I think you have the wrong impression. I’m not chained.” He pushed the napkin back once more, saying “Of course, you are. You’re chained by your fear, by your insecurity. You’re chained by the low expectation you have of yourself that he is the best you can do. That you don’t deserve to be treated like the treasure you are, enslaves you. Come to gate B1. I’ll be here for a few more hours and I can help you. Either way, please take care of yourself, and realize you’re worth more than he deserves.”
Quickly, he walked away.
He left cash for his drink and walked to gate B1. He had not meant to be so bold but he couldn’t watch it anymore. He remembered his mother and the hell she went through. He couldn’t sit and watch it. It wasn’t until he sat down at the gate that he realized his hands were shaking. He sat staring out the window at the planes, wondering if he’d done the right thing, wondering if she was safe.
He looked at his watch and he still had 2 hours left of his layover. Someone sat in the seat next to him and he looked over. It was her. She had tear-stained makeup but she wasn’t crying now. She held up the cocktail napkin and quietly said, “Help me.” He took his cell phone out of his coat pocket. He had some calls to make, favors to call in, but he would.
It was no problem.