1. to ward off a weapon or blow
2. to evade especially by an adroit (clever) answer
Ellie raced around her bedroom, humming as she rushed to get ready for her date. She checked her reflection in the mirror, resisting the urge to dissect her silhouette. This was the third weekend in a row Alex had invited her out and she was starting to think something more might be on the horizon.
Ellie’s phone buzzed, taking her attention from straightening her naturally wavy hair.
A simple message was displayed on her phone:
“This is not working. See you around.”
The distance between reality and what she’d expected shocked her. Ellie’s mind raced, trying to figure out what she’d done wrong. She’d thought things had been going so well. Yeah, it had taken them some time to warm up to each other and no, she didn’t quite feel butterflies when he spoke, but was that any reason to cancel last minute after just two dates?
Ellie had moved to Chicago a year ago and Alex was the only person she’d met that had even piqued her interest–it had felt like a fluke. Now it was back to the beginning… only now she’d have to field questions from her mother about how things were going, why things had fallen apart, and what she’d done wrong.
Tears stung her eyes. Her pulse quickened as she mentally rehearsed their conversation that would lead to the talk about how Ellie wasn’t getting any younger and being alone was bad for your health–”worse than smoking,” her mother would say. She’d have to endure another lecture about “being open” and “putting herself out there.”
Her breathing became labored. She instinctively hid her face in her hands to hide the flow of tears.
Words like “failure” and “unwanted” bombarded her mind. She tried to remember what her father had said to her the other day when she was feeling crummy for having only visited the gym twice last week.
“Progress is progress, El,” he had said. “Never despise the amount.”
Ellie inhaled slowly through her nose, trying to steady herself.
“Progress is progress,” she exhaled weakly through tears. “I will not despise the amount.”
What would her father say right now? He was always wise and patient. He made things so plain when she felt like she was stuck in the middle of a big, confusing mess.
“I’m proud of you and I love you, El,” he’d say. “You’re a wonderful woman and it’s obvious to everyone who cares you.”
“I’m wonderful,” she whispered repeatedly into the quiet. “The people who care about me are able to see this… if they can’t see that I’m wonderful… it’s because they don’t care about me…”
She wasn’t sure how long she had been pacing around her apartment, verbally standing her ground, ready to parry every mental attack.
“My daddy’s proud of me,” she whispered, curling up on the couch.
She hated anxiety; it was trying to ruin her life. But it would not win today.
“My daddy loves me…”