22 Apr 2015

The Date

"I haven't been this happy in a long time", he said, looking deep into her eyes in the car. 
The prelude to this date were the few conversations they had. Light, breezy, easy. But then, she had always been an easy conversationalist. 

The phone calls became frequent. She could almost hear the clicks on the other end, the reluctant tone when they had to hang up the phone, the quick sigh when the date wouldn't arrive soon enough; but arrive, it did. All too soon, she thought. 

As she stepped on the foyer of the popular coffee shop, she clutched her stomach lightly. No butterflies, she mused. "The date was pre-arranged, we spoke earlier to match wavelengths, the butterflies will come", justified a small rational voice she hadn't heard in a while. He came in, all smiles and charm and gave her a once-over. She looked at his crooked smile, freshly shaved face and gave a small smile back. The awkwardness lasted for a few minutes, giving way to the same easy conversation, breezy flirtation and chuckling at the brazen suggestiveness. He was a gentleman with undertones of naughtiness, a combination she loved. What was better was the gift that he gave - thoughtful and represented her in every way. "How many times I've dreamt someone would give me something like this" she thought, accepting the hand-made box it came in. "To think he took the time out to make this for me!" She clutched her stomach again, waiting for the butterflies that still wouldn't come. 

Coffee ran over to dinner and the conversation continued. He couldn't take his eyes off her, his glances more appreciative with each passing minute. She had to look away from the intensity in his gaze, it bothered her. His protectiveness was sweet, his "accidental brushes" were tentative, the mile long walk back to the car after dinner, planned. He took her hand like it was the most natural thing to do and she let him. Holding hands, they walked along the road. The night was obliging, breezy, without too many people out. Even the moon was supportive - a bright orange ball, peeking out of the inky clouds, washing them in its light. 

"Can we talk for a while?" He asked hesitantly. She shrugged, "Sure." He raised his hands, almost like waving a wand and brushed the stray hair out of her forehead. She shivered. 

In the car, he switched on the music and Billy Joel serenaded them. He sat there, humming along with Billy, his voice in perfect synchronization. He launched into some of his favorite songs, his voice washing over her. "I haven't been this happy in a long time", he said, looking deep into her eyes. She looked away. 

He caressed her arms and she looked down at the tiny flecks of hair on her hand, lying flat. 

"We should write a poem. You write one line, I'll write the next", he said, his eyes shining with sudden enthusiasm. "...although I can't match your language" he chuckled and stopped abruptly. He saw something on her face. She didn't know what the expression on her face was, she was busy trying to drown out the ringing in her ears with words she didn't want to remember. 

"What is this?" she asked, grinning. She knew exactly what it was and she couldn't wait to start. 

"It's a line." he said. "Just a line?" she grinned, wider now. "If you wrote the next line and this continued, I would have a beautiful poem to give you during lunch. Aside from my awesome humor" he said, wryly. "Let's get started then." They wrote furiously, line after line, like a dance building into a crecendo. When the end loomed, she bit her lip in concentration, piecing their minds as one. As promised, he brought it along with him. Oh, and his humor. 

Thrown back into the car, she continued gazing blankly. "We don't have to write anything, it was just a suggestion, we could write it later..." he trailed off apologetically. "Yea...later..." she mumbled.

He took her hand again, making small circles with the pad of his thumb on her fingers. She spoke quicker now, withdrawing her hands. He leaned in a little to test waters and she waited, frozen. Chopin was playing in the background, his piano sounds suddenly too loud for the car. She looked on, willing herself to close her eyes. She looked at his soft, pink lips and imagined him kissing her. She clutched her stomach harder. 

"It's late, I should go." she said. The moment was lost. She sighed quickly and got out of the car. Just as she closed the gate and watched him wave cheerily, she realized the sigh was that of relief.

She rushed to the mirror and replayed the moment and watched her expression carefully. She looked wilted, aged. The light in her eyes disappeared like a switch. As it was before, the drop in her stomach was that of lead falling through, tearing her insides. 

She stared at her hand, the absence of goosebumps more apparent now. She let go of waiting for the butterflies that never came. She stared at the tissue paper that he had twisted into a swan at the coffee shop, her namesake, turning it in her hand in wonder and crushed it in her palm in one, swift motion. A ringtone played, signalling a received message . 

"It was one of the most special times of my life. You are beautiful and I miss you already" it read. On autopilot, she closed the phone in her purse and zipped it shut. 

A paper fluttered at the corner of her mind, peeking, looking for a way out to prominence in her scattered thoughts. She quickly looked around and found what she wanted. As she poured the contents of the cough syrup on a teaspoon, her phone rang again. "I can't sleep, I can't stop thinking about you." the message read. 

"Baby, I don't want to keep the phone" 
"I don't want to either" 

She drowned out her thoughts, downed the syrup and took a long sip of water. She willed her mind blank and looked at the ticking clock, knowing she had 10 minutes before the syrup took effect. She saw the minute hand crawl and exactly ten minutes later, she fell into a deep sleep.

Postscript: This is one of my older posts, re-posting it because these are my memories of R.

1 Apr 2015

Moving Forward

I read a friend's post this morning about Why Moving Back Home was the best decision she ever made. It hit me then, I'm clocking 9 years away from home now. Nearly a decade and I'm nowhere close to wanting to go back.

I thought it could be because I'm fiercely independent, maybe I'm unwilling to change my ways or simply because there are many restrictions back at home - but really, it is because I'm always looking ahead. 'Moving back' as a term itself is redundant to me.

Whenever I've yearned for things I've left behind, it is usually built up in my head. When I actually get it, I realize I don't yearn for it anymore. Repetition of this behavior has made me a self-aware enough to know that while the idea of a home-cooked meal, familiarity of faces and laundry being magically done is tempting, the reality is that I rely on myself to do my own stuff. Even while vacationing at home, when a hot cuppa' is brought to my sister every morning, I'm in the kitchen fixing my own cup despite mom's protests.

There are several things I look forward to, but going back is not one of them. Going forward certainly is.