Monday, December 16, 2013

As Always

The train had barely left the station when she spotted him walking towards her. He wore a grey shirt and light blue jeans, his hair was cropped as always and his face as grim as ever. She hated his grey shirts, they made him look paler and colder, she had told him that several times, but he was not the one to listen, not to her.

He smiled as he effortlessly pulled his six feet frame on the side upper berth and sat next to her, his left arm touched hers and was cold as always. It seemed as if the frigidness of his heart was manifested in his body. His hands had been cold for as long as she could remember. They had been cold that night too -- even inside her shirt. It was one night that she would cherish all her life. But she very well knew that he was more guilty than glad about it -- about letting go of his guard. Perhaps that is why, the first thing he did the following morning was to clarify that they were just friends. She had nodded in agreement, as always.  

The train had now picked up speed and there was a rhythm in its movement, a rhythm to which their bodies swayed -- together. The long, awkward silence was broken only by the chugging of the train and the occasional whistle. Although she had much to say to him, she did not know how to. In the last few months he had been aloof, indifferent and withdrawn, leaving her alone to wonder what went wrong. She wanted to confront him, to tell him how much he hurt her, how much she missed him, how stupid she felt waiting for a guy who did not even bother to leave a message when he left. But knew it would not help, the argument will go nowhere and she will end up taking the blame and feeling foolish, like always. 

Her trance was broken when he kissed her -- a quick awkward peck on her right cheek -- to wish her birthday. His mouth cold against her flushed cheeks. She had not expected this, not from him, not now. He seemed to have sensed her confusion, for he smiled at her and began to talk. He talked as if there was nothing abnormal about this – about them being together on a train, about him remembering her birthday, about kissing her. He talked about life, philosophy, science, sports -- his favourite topics, but she wasn't listening. All she could do was to look at him -- his sparkling eyes, his broad forehead, his sharp nose, his mouth. And all she could think was how much she loved him.

She was so distracted that she did not even realise when he put his arm around her and pulled himself closer. Only when he held her hand did she notice it. She also noticed the contrast – his sculpted hands against her peasant hands, his pale complexion against her dusky skin, the coldness of his palms against her warmth. The contrast was not limited to their hands, she thought.

He looked into her eyes and started to talk again.‘Life is not a bed of roses, Blacky. It is thorny and difficult; I have much to prove to my parents and to myself. I have no time for anything else.’

All her life she had visualised this conversation, she had thought of a million possibilities, of a thousand ways in which she could tell him how much she loved him -- some day. But this is not something that she was prepared for. Her mouth parched, her heart raced, she broke into cold sweat. She wanted to talk but words failed her. She just listened -- as always.

He continued to talk, to reason, to justify, to prove that he will always be there for her – as a friend, but none of it made sense anymore – all that mattered was that it was over, before it even began. 

Even before she could react, he left. As if running away from something -- from giving in, from her, from them. As always.

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