It’s hard to make out in the dark from my precarious position. Without losing my grip, I lean across to hear what he’s whispering.
“With you straddled across my lap like this, I could die happy at this moment with no regrets.”
Those were the days when I would have believed that the sun rose in the West if he said it. Truth!
“Shush, you’ll wake the neighbours.”
“Isn’t that part of the pleasure of making love on the stairs?”
“Maybe for you. I was overcome by lust and couldn’t wait the extra minute it would have taken to reach the flat. But imagine these old fuddy-duddies catching us in the act. Mmm… delicious.”
Like a multiple orgasm, I keep going back to the e-mail for waves of pleasure at the thought that he was asking for a meeting. I’m alone in the flat, but I log-in through a half minimised window; read it again, and nervously shut it down. With my eyes closed, it is easy to go back in time to three and a half years ago. In my mind’s eye, I can see a younger me walking through the office. The corridor is painted steel grey with a rundown carpet in a beige pattern. But I see only sunlight pouring in through the ceiling and smiling faces around me.
When we were introduced at a bar after work by mutual friends, he seemed to fit in perfectly with our group. I knew he was in a serious relationship with a girl in the US. But suddenly he was always the one dropping me home; we were meeting up for catch-up coffees every other day; and then going out for beating-the-stress weekend movie nights for two. I kept the pretence going even in my head that we were just friends till one drunken night when we almost crossed the line. I threw a hysterical fit and asked him to leave. Miserable but certain that I did the right thing; I spent a sleepless week suffering withdrawal pangs. It rained heavily the next day and there was a knock on my door that evening.
I can still picture his little boy lost look and the rain drops on his spiky hair. “I’ve been walking around your house for an hour and I don’t know what to do. So I came here. Should I leave?” My pious intentions and self-righteous strictures took a suicidal leap from the balcony while I smothered him in a thick white towel and rubbed him dry. “Now he is mine and here to stay”.
Blind! Blind! Blind! as one of my favourite Dickens characters would have said. That was where the descent began.
I now realise that the chase was the biggest attraction for him though probably subconscious and not the sex on tap. Once that was successfully concluded, and I was swearing eternal devotion, it was over. It took six months for the curtains to be drawn. And our roles were reversed by then.
So why this meeting? What does he want? Will he say sorry? Do I care? Should I care?
I’ve put on weight since then. What if he doesn’t think I’m attractive? Should I just let him stick with the memories of the sexy svelte me?
Is there a three-year itch? If he makes a move, would it be ok to have one kiss? One kiss shouldn’t matter, right?
What if he wants to re-kindle things? Can we turn back the clock?
Stop it right now, you mad girl!
I find myself at the coffee shop at the appointed time.
Oh, look at him. Still manages to have that little boy lost look. Have. To. Remember. Do not be rude or mean. Maintain your dignity even if you feel like giving him a tight slap.
Halfway through the coffee, I burst out. “So are you finally going to tell me why you ran away to another city and then another continent”?
“Ah. Ummm. It wasn’t only me that stopped communicating. You did too. So how’s your work going?”
“Look, I agreed to meet you only because I thought you needed closure and I should be generous even to a skunk like you. I realise now that I need the closure too. So please explain why you backed out and went back to your girlfriend?”
“What is the point of re-hashing all that? I just thought we could catch up for old times sake since I was in the country. That’s all. Anyway I am not with her anymore.”
The fancy coffee tastes like mud. We finish with some meaningless small talk and leave our separate ways.
It all comes back to me in the rickshaw. His ever-increasing spinelessness, avoiding physical intimacy towards the end despite my pathetic attempts to tempt him, buying me diamond earrings before he left the city without a word, trying to end it in all ways but the right way. And how I’m never ever going to resolve the mystery of how things changed so quickly.
After he abandoned me, in an orgy of self-hate, I decided to be nothing like the girl I was with him. But that girl. She lurked inside me. She would catch me when I was alone and then we would play our favourite game of “what if”.
Instead of my staid marriage to the son of my parents’ friends, what if I had married the one I thought I loved?
I’ve wasted three years fantasising about what could have been. Somewhere it was always a faint shadow that fell across my marriage.
I’m back at home. My husband is unexpectedly early from work and has brought me a bar of dark chocolate, my current addiction. He launches into his predictable download of what he did the entire day, hour by hour, and why he called me only once today. And instead of wincing inside, I smile and say, “Tell me more, darling.”
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BWW Star is a writer who has worked with us at BWW and whose work amused, moved, inspired, and/or made a difference in our lives. We are sure you will enjoy and be encouraging too.
Sudha Mathew, from the second batch of BWW, is an entrepreneur who creates magical holidays. She writes dreamy travelogues that make a reader actually experience a holiday. After joining BWW, she is also exploring writing fiction, particularly short stories that explore relationships.
About Sudha Mathew
Sudha Mathew was once a sharp-suited banker and is now an entrepreneur who creates unforgettable holidays. When she’s home, she dreams about travelling and when she’s on the road, she longs for home. Addicted to chocolate and travel magazines, she writes about all things travel on her blog http://seekandhide.in/blog-home/ and tweets at https://twitter.com/seekandhide_in
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