The Shadow Of The Bat Falls On Harley Quinn

Harley is sitting in a bath tub with toasters, radios and hair dryers dangling above her, all connected to a live point buzzing with electricity. She has to just release the cord that holds them all together and they are going to splash right into the tub that she is in.

The lights flicker….

And we hear her say aloud, “Mistah J is not going to come any-ways, might as well do it!”

3…2…

 

We now go back a few days…

What could have possibly gone so wrong that our favourite Psychotic Sweet Heart is in such a suicidal state…

It all starts…

At Gotham…
The City terrorized by the Clown Prince…
And Ruled by his Squeeze…Wait a Sec ! Woah ! “Who are you calling a Squeeze” shouts back Harley Quinn former psychiatrist to Arkham Asylum and presently fleeing with The Joker….

Suddenly, they are surrounded on all sides by Gotham Police and SWAT and she looks at the harsh light staring down at her from Gotham PD’s helicopters and Mr J vanishes.
Stranded, stuck and on the hunt…where does our beloved Harley go…|

 

 
She wanders the streets for days…looks out for abandoned tenements… and needs a place to crash…she remembers there is a terror far worse than her Mistah J…lest the terror of the night finds her first…she shivers…what has a girl got to do to stay warm and alive in Gotham.

Yes…she knows what she had to do to stay alive in Gotham….and her poor babies…who will feed them…she can’t go back to them…she has to find a place to hide…from the terror that is hunting her…and its not Gotham PD…they whisper in secret….that there is a Dark Monstrous being that prowls around the rooftops perched like a Gargoyle…hunting criminals…he is solely responsible for the incarceration of every known criminal in Gotham including her beloved Mistah J whom she just freed for the nth time impersonating as a psychiatrist…using her old credentials to bypass Arkham Asylum’s security….

And that dog just abandoned her to a fate much worse than that of death…

 

 

The Dark Knight is nearby…she knows it…
every footstep…every rustle of the leaf makes her heart want to explode…

Above a familiar figure watches over and swoops down to ensare his prey…

The Shadow Of The Bat Falls On Harley Quinn

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And all that we leave behind… (Alternate ending)

The time is many years earlier…

A story of our forefathers and the spirits that dwelt then.

The world was changing. We had moved into the race to reach the stars. We settled for the moon.

The astronauts were prepping to launch. Their shuttle took off. They crossed the atmosphere. And they were hurtling towards the moon. And yet, it seemed so far away.
Their country had spent enormous amounts of money to get this shuttle to reach the moon. Sending chimps, dogs and birds just wasn’t enough. Man had to get there first before his neighbor reached. He had to be the first. He had to leave his home and family behind and risk it all. These were the chosen ones. This was their mission. This was their goal. This was their life. They had trained for a long time to get here. Now, they had to just reach there and prove to the world that we were a super power. We were the best. We were the first. We had all the power. And we wanted all the glory. We were a developed country. We had all the tech. We had all the resources.

Somewhere deep in space, things were quiet as the two astronauts were waiting with bated breath. And out of nowhere, the darkness enveloped them. Things just went silent. And dark. Very dark. It took them some seconds to realize they had lost all power and they were now drifting. Life support wouldn’t be able to take care of them for so long. They tried their best. There was no communication going in and nothing went out. Just space and them floating in it.
On the ground, they realized, something was wrong and they had lost all feeds. There was no word. No signal. The astronauts had vanished.
Inside, they realized, it was a matter of time, they would be gasping for breath. It was getting hot and stuffy. They needed to conserve their oxygen. And they were feeling drowsy and so sleepy. Sleep was beckoning. They couldn’t give in. They had to stay awake.

He finds himself in a cold dark room now. No one is there. And it doesn’t even seem he is on the shuttle. He gets up. Walks out. He can’t recognize the hospital. He can’t recognize anyone. And everyone passes by as if he was a stranger. He waits patiently at the nurses station but it seems so crowded. Then he chances upon the date. It is 30 years in the future. Is this an idea of some one at the base playing a joke on him. Well, he had to get home to his lovely wife. He didn’t care what the writing on the wall said.
He steps out. The cars look different. The people are dressed differently. He can’t recognize any of the shops and the street names appear so different. The roads are so crowded. People talk to themselves in devices that they hold near their ears. It is all so confusing. His head is beginning to hurt. He needs to lie down. It is too much to take in. He has to get home.

He manages to climb on a bus and he gets down at his porch. The house is still there. It looks old. But there seems to be life. The light is on in the window. He moves to the door and opens it. The neighbors look so old. He wonders about his beautiful, young wife he had left behind. She must be looking like an old crow now. He shudders. He shouldn’t have such dreadful thoughts. He looks so young. He hasn’t aged a day. He appears just as he was when he left. Yet time seems to have moved on.

He enters in and lo, behold is his wife. She appears so young. Just the way he had left her. She welcomes him. They hug each other. They weep. He can’t explain how is she still the same. It seems like a dream. But her touch seems so real. They sit for supper. They have a family meal.
He has to sleep now. He feels so weary. So tired. He crashes on his bed. His wife lays next to him.

In the middle of the night he hears sounds of sobbing. Sounds of weeping. Sounds of a woman crying. His wife is nowhere to be seen. He goes down. He finds her closing the door. She is moving away from the house and she has tears in her eyes. He follows her. They walk for some time.
And she stops, bends downs and weeps again. She is sitting on a rock.

He moves ahead to see why. Something isn’t right. Something doesn’t make sense. It can’t be. It appears all wrong. He has to move away. A voice behind him whispers. It is his friend. He is beckoning him. He moves towards his voice.
There are two tombstones. One for both of them. His name is on it. The date is 30 years back. His wife has the same date on her stone too. Does it mean. He is dead. Then what about his wife. Is she dead too. What was this. Who was this woman then ? His eyes open in shock and disbelief. It was his daughter. He reaches out to her. She is crying. He wants to console her. A void pulls him back. And hears a voice… It is his fellow astronaut…and now his voice seems clear…

“We are all living in a ghost story”

And we await and pray for all…

…and all that we leave behind…

And all that we leave behind…

The time is many years earlier…

A story of our forefathers and the spirits that dwelt then.

The world was changing. We had moved into the race to reach the stars. We settled for the moon.

The astronauts were prepping to launch. Their shuttle took off. They crossed the atmosphere. And they were hurtling towards the moon. And yet, it seemed so far away.
Their country had spent enormous amounts of money to get this shuttle to reach the moon. Sending chimps, dogs and birds just wasn’t enough. Man had to get there first before his neighbor reached. He had to be the first. He had to leave his home and family behind and risk it all. These were the chosen ones. This was their mission. This was their goal. This was their life. They had trained for a long time to get here. Now, they had to just reach there and prove to the world that we were a super power. We were the best. We were the first. We had all the power. And we wanted all the glory. We were a developed country. We had all the tech. We had all the resources.

Somewhere deep in space, things were quiet as the two astronauts were waiting with bated breath. And out of nowhere, the darkness enveloped them. Things just went silent. And dark. Very dark. It took them some seconds to realize they had lost all power and they were now drifting. Life support wouldn’t be able to take care of them for so long. They tried their best. There was no communication going in and nothing went out. Just space and them floating in it.
On the ground, they realized, something was wrong and they had lost all feeds. There was no word. No signal. The astronauts had vanished.
Inside, they realized, it was a matter of time, they would be gasping for breath. It was getting hot and stuffy. They needed to conserve their oxygen. And they were feeling drowsy and so sleepy. Sleep was beckoning. They couldn’t give in. They had to stay awake.

He finds himself in a cold dark room now. No one is there. And it doesn’t even seem he is on the shuttle. He gets up. Walks out. He can’t recognize the hospital. He can’t recognize anyone. And everyone passes by as if he was a stranger. He waits patiently at the nurses station but it seems so crowded. Then he chances upon the date. It is 30 years in the future. Is this an idea of some one at the base playing a joke on him. Well, he had to get home to his lovely wife. He didn’t care what the writing on the wall said.
He steps out. The cars look different. The people are dressed differently. He can’t recognize any of the shops and the street names appear so different. The roads are so crowded. People talk to themselves in devices that they hold near their ears. It is all so confusing. His head is beginning to hurt. He needs to lie down. It is too much to take in. He has to get home.

He manages to climb on a bus and he gets down at his porch. The house is still there. It looks old. But there seems to be life. The light is on in the window. He moves to the door and opens it. The neighbors look so old. He wonders about his beautiful, young wife he had left behind. She must be looking like an old crow now. He shudders. He shouldn’t have such dreadful thoughts. He looks so young. He hasn’t aged a day. He appears just as he was when he left. Yet time seems to have moved on.

He enters in and lo, behold is his wife. She appears so young. Just the way he had left her. She welcomes him. They hug each other. They weep. He can’t explain how is she still the same. It seems like a dream. But her touch seems so real. She tells him that he has a beautiful daughter. They sit for supper. They have a family meal.
He has to sleep now. He feels so weary. So tired. He crashes on his bed. His wife lays next to him.

In the middle of the night he hears sounds of sobbing. Sounds of weeping. Sounds of a woman crying. His wife is nowhere to be seen. He goes down. He finds his daughter closing the door. She is moving away from the house and she has tears in her eyes. He follows her. They walk for some time.
And she stops, bends downs and weeps again. She is sitting on a rock.

He moves ahead to see why. Something isn’t right. Something doesn’t make sense. It can’t be. It appears all wrong. He has to move away. A voice behind him whispers. It is his wife. She is beckoning him. He moves towards her.
There are two tombstones. One for both of them. His name is on it. The date is 30 years back. His wife has the same date on her stone too. Does it mean. He is dead. Then what about his wife. Is she dead too. What was this. And his daughter. He reaches out to her. She is crying. He wants to console her. A void pulls him back. And hears a voice… It is his fellow astronaut…and now his voice seems clear…

“We are all living in a ghost story”

And we await and pray for all…

…and all that we leave behind…

One Dark Night

 

 

“Do you understand pain?”

“Would you like me to fix you a drink, Sir?”

“I need something deeper, something stronger, something much more potent. To….

“Yes? To?”

“To chip away it all. To penetrate my being and make me feel normal….   his voice trailed.

“Would a drink fix that?”, the bartender asked him.

“For now, a drink should suffice”, he replied with a clouded mind.

“Whiskey?”, asked the bartender

“Two cubes of ice”, heavy was his response.

 

He watched as the aurum was filled into his glass. He watched as rocks of ice fell into it like boulders in a landslide. He could have sworn the glass cracked. He peered at it. It was all just smoke and mirrors in his mind.

The glass was passed oh so gently to him. He felt like a patient in an mental asylum being handed his pills. These were not pills. He was angry.

But he wasn’t 7:30. He chuckled loudly. He shouldn’t be talking to himself especially sitting in a bar that was full of people.

So, no! He wasn’t 7:30. And if someone asked him what 7:30 was.

7:30 – It’s the time they give out the meds at the men’s ward.

 

He was heading to an early grave unless the asylum decided to strap him in first.

Franz Kafka was almost prophetical when he said –

“One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate. In this there is also a residue of belief that during the move the master will chance to come along the corridor, look at the prisoner and say: “This man is not to be locked up again, He is to come with me.”

 

 

He had not even began to drink and his thoughts were pouring out through the cracks. He could almost smell the whiskey. It beckoned. But instinct forewarned him of things to come.

A young man, full of himself, smiling like a clown, appeared out of nowhere and sat right next to him and shook him out of his reverie.

Normally he would have told that young man to fuck off. But not today. He had enough of fights. Enough nasty words were exchanged and he had no intention to going through it all over again even if it was an rude uncouth stranger who was asking for it.

The young man had a twinkle in his eye and we knew that he was up to no good. Some could call it being judgemental. But weren’t we perceptive. Wasn’t it a curse we bore to be able to see things before it happened. That fine tuned sixth sense that constantly warned him of immediate danger. But sometimes even his perception would act like a bitch and abandon him right when he needed it the most. And he still hadn’t taken a swig of his infernal whisky.

“So how are you doing today, my friend?” came the inquisitive almost sneering like quick question from the young fool who had perched himself on the bar stool and was attempting to balance his drink and grab everyone’s attention in the room.

“We don’t like him. He needs to leave us alone”

But these were just thoughts and it wasn’t said aloud. Not that it would matter.

“I would like to be left alone. Please leave me alone” instead was his reply.

“Come on. I just called you friend, shouldn’t you treat me like a friend? Is that how you treat friends. No wonder you are sitting alone! Why are you sitting alone? Have all your friends left you? Where are your friends? Come have a drink with me. I have lovely company but she doesn’t want to talk to me……. Come…let me introduce her to you….”, he went on and on like a school kid reciting a poetry at the bequest of his proud parents asking the kid about his first day in school.

Something snapped.

His eyes flared up. He turned around.

The young man’s wicked mischievous smile was the first to go. The young man’s fist clenched. He felt he was about to be beaten like a whipped dog.

No one touched him.

Not yet.

Sometimes in your life when you are young or old, you get this feeling that you want to go poking around for trouble and stir up things. And then you will come across this quiet bearded stranger in a bar that you should never talk to. You should leave him alone. It would be wise to continue with your tomfoolery and be on your merry fucking way of drinking and mirth which ideally should be miles away from someone like him.

Some people should be left alone.

They are a world of trouble.

Some people are like stars. They are not small or gentle. They are writhing and dying and burning.

They are not here to be pretty.          One should learn from them

 

The man who had not yet begun to drink turned around and glared at this young fool. For now he was a nameless bearded stranger.

“I have asked you pretty nicely to leave me alone. I have been watching you. Don’t talk to me. Don’t interact with me. Take your drink and leave quietly. I am not someone you should even be talking to. Go now. Live your life. And don’t waste it talking to strangers who ideally should be left alone”

The young man was stunned. His mind seemed to be lost because he was sensing hostility and anger. The young man felt like an over smart fox who had suddenly come across an angry ferocious hungry tiger.

He reached into his pocket. Threw some money at the bar counter. Wads of cash. Enough to pay for a dozen people. But the voices in our bearded stranger were millions. You could possibly not pay for all of them. Hence that money seemed to have no weight nor bearing other than it caused the young man to take his drink and make a beeline for the door. He stumbled against the bouncer standing right in the middle of the floor. Spilled half his drink. Handed the glass to him. Moved away. Came back. Offered the bouncer few wads of cash.

And the young man was out of this place like a bat out of hell.

Was he terrified. Was he out to get more of his friends. Was he a figment of the bearded strangers imagination.

Our dear bearded stranger was still sitting there watching the bartender collect the cash and tabulate the tab of the young man. The bartender was smiling ear to ear.
Even whispered softly, “Idiots like him should come here more often. Love the tip. It is more than enough for the night”

The bartenders attention turned fondly towards the bearded stranger. Pointed a shot glass that was being wiped straight at him and said, “You my friend are always welcome to this place…….the next drink is on the house. Drink up!”

It wasn’t a victory march.

There were no trumpets.

It was cold and silent and he felt lonely and angry and hurt and devastated suddenly.

Such an uptight arsehole he was. He still hadn’t finished his drink.

What was his rule?

Never drink when you are angry or sad or hurt. It only makes things worse.

Had he just made things worse.

Love was not a victory march. It seemed like a broken harpsichord.

Oh you are going to muse about love now!

What right have you to talk about love. Who or by what authority should you even be talking about love.

What the fuck were you thinking.

He was angry all over again. He finished his drink. It burned his breath. His throat felt the sting but his mind was tumultuous and today it seemed paradoxical.

He felt like a fool. He had acted like a fool. He wanted to call her. He wanted her to call him. He wouldn’t call her. She wouldn’t call him. He wouldn’t call her because he was still angry over what happened. She wouldn’t call him because she was still hurting. He hurt her. She hurt him. The fight between them didn’t matter. He hurt her. That mattered.

To him, she had hurt him and now she didn’t matter.

Or did she?

Why was he thinking about her.

To be precise, why was he still thinking about her

Why spend so much time over someone who has hurt you. Enjoy your fucking drink. Look around. Everyone is enjoying themselves. Are they? Oh come on! Don’t be a killjoy! You are drinking here alone and there is no one keeping you company, why are you so offended with a little burst of voices in your head.

You don’t like the voices in your head keeping you company.  Maybe you should have been admitted in a psych ward.

What time is it?

7:30

Nah! It was 9:00 pm. It wasn’t 7:30.

Look at the clock and let it go tick tock. Tickety Tock. Dickety Dock!

You need a whore!

Come on!

Give in!

Forget about her!

What good has love done to you! What good has love done for you.

All it got you was heartache and misery and pain. How stupid can one be. It is alright to be paradoxical but someone highly intelligent and perceptive as you should not be giving in to love. Keep it cold and calculating. Go on. Drink your drink. Let it wash away all this bullshit known as love.

Who knows, you may even stop talking to your pitiable self. Live a little dark stranger. Give in to lust. Find someone tonight and get on with it. It’s that easy, no?

The scent of an unfamiliar perfume lingered right into his boundary of convalescent thoughts.

The bearded stranger who had been having a conversation with himself all this while in his gutted mind looked up to see a young woman approaching him.

She was looking straight at him. Then she looked away.  She appeared tipsy.

She felt like a drowning woman wading through quagmire. The wet sand seemed stuck at her pretty heels and it was dragging her down. The room was a pit of darkness, strobe lights, soft rock music and incandescent strangers.

She walked up to him. Paused for a second. Adjusted her off shoulder dress that ran right till her knees. Her knees seemed dark. He didn’t like it.  It seemed she had worn that dress with so much disdain. Maybe she was waiting to get home to take it off and change into something more devastating.

But she was gorgeous to look at. Her eyes were all over the place. Every time her eyes met his, they spoke a million words that could not be put into sentences. Almost like Latin or a dead language.

She pulled the bar stool right next to this bearded stranger and smiled out aloud,  “Thank you”

Before he could reply.

“Could you get me a drink?”, she asked.

He almost wanted to ask her if she was expecting to be paid. But he had been mean to enough people. And right now, he was not looking to pick a fight with another woman.

His drink arrived. This was the one which was on the house. The bartender smiled. Almost like a sign of things that were going to foreclose.

She asked him with impertinence again. “I need a drink. Will you buy me a drink?”

He turned around and asked her if she was talking to someone else, if she had mistaken him for someone else and then he broke into his rhetoric about leaving strangers alone and stars that are pretty and writhing…..

She didn’t seem interested. She ordered a drink. She didn’t pay for it. She didn’t even mention what drink she wanted. She just motioned at the bartender and the drink appeared.

Odd.

Curiouser and curiouser.

He hadn’t seen her before near the bar area. She had walked away from the couple section but there was no one keeping her company. Maybe her date had gone to pee.

In that case, he didn’t want to incur the wrath of her date and get into another fight. Oh no, no! no! Leave her be. Ignore her. She will go away. What fucking drink does she want. I hope her date comes and gets her.

No one came.

She was still sitting there. She was drunk. Her elbows kept slipping off the bar. She almost knocked her glass down a couple of times. He didn’t give a damn what she was drinking.

“Why did you say Thank you”, he asked gruffly

“You can keep that macho bullshit for someone else. I am not scared of you. I came here to say Thank you but Fuck you!”, she replied

Woah! Things just escalated pretty quickly.

Who was she again. What was she doing here. What was all this about.

Take that stiff drink with a few cubes of ice.

“What was your Thank you for?”, his tone was much more polite and calmer.

Her gaze softened. “That asshole who was talking to you was my boyfriend”

He didn’t see that coming

“And why are you thanking me?”, he asked

“He kept pestering to come out with him for a drink. It was getting irritating to be home on a Saturday. All my friends had plans and I had a boyfriend who was nothing but a loser and a jerk and a fucking piece of shit”

“He told me that we were going to a nice place and I wanted to just sit and drink. He asked me to dress up and not embarrass him. We reached this place and he immediately started acting like he owned me. He came and sat right next to me and he kept throwing himself on me. I was pinned against the side of the wall and him and we were in this booth. He is my boyfriend but he was such an asshole.”

His mind retraced it all. The booths were meant for couples. They were dark for a reason. Anything goes in a place like this. Or does it?

“I am sorry to hear that. Are you okay?”, he asked

“Nah! Don’t worry about it. While I was pushing him away, my elbow jammed against his jaw and must have hit his lip and his nose. He jumped back. Abused profanities with me. Walked out of the booth and went and sat with another girl who was sitting alone. They spoke for sometime and then she paid and left. I guess he freaked her out.”

“No one did a damn thing?”, he asked.

“You were sitting at the bar, right? I guess you were too lost in your own world”, she muttered

“I am really sorry about what happened. Do you want to do something about it?”

She stared hard at him.

“No! I’ll handle it!”, she shot back.

“I can handle myself. I want to marry him. I love him. He is such a fucking jerk. He was so nice to me in the beginning. But now he just wants me to give him what he wants or else he throws a fit like a child.”

He heard her out quietly.

“Has he left?”

“I think he has gone someplace where the girls are more prettier and drunkier and would probably be impressed with the amount of money he can splash”

“Also, I was only teasing you when I asked you for a drink. He had paid our bill and there was more than enough money to cover my drinks too.”

That made sense. A lot of sense.

The ways of a rich spoilt kid with no manners and someone who didn’t know how to treat women right.

But this bearded stranger was a rich father’s son too. And he had just fought with the so called love of his life. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical of him to be kind and compassionate to her when he had also probably acted like a jerk with the only woman in his life.

But here he was talking to another stranger. A random conversation or so it seemed.

He wondered if he had treated his own girl right. He wondered how much he had hurt her too. What was the fight all about. Why did they fight. Why couldn’t she be reasonable. Why did he have to act reasonable when actually he was being impulsive. Wasn’t that a farce. What was he doing here.

“HELLOOOOOOOOO”, her voice snapped him back to reality.

“Is there anything I can do for you right now”, he asked.

She felt pushed away. “You could have just bought me a drink”, she groaned.

“What good it would have done?”, he asked.

“You seemed like a nice guy. You were the only guy in this room who stood up to him and frightened the living beezebus out of him. My gosh! I would have actually bought you a drink but I have a boyfriend so I cannot hence you need to buy me a drink”

What kind of logic was that he wondered.

Paradoxical was his state of mind earlier and here was a woman who completely contradictory.

He believed her. But he didn’t act. He didn’t want to do anything. She should get home safely.

“So why are you here, all alone and all by your handsome self?” she asked.

“I had a fight with my girlfriend and I stormed out”

“What are the fucking odds” she laughed out aloud.

“So did you also fight over sex?” she cackled suddenly gleefully enjoying her drink.

“I don’t want to talk about it”

“Did she find you too intense and all stoic”, “No girl likes a guy who doesn’t know how to have fun, lighten up a bit, come dance with me” and she put her right hand in his hand.

He pushed it away like a bag of scorpions.

This girl was drunk and crazy.

“I would love to have someone to dance with me. Come, dance with me”, she smiled

“No fucking way”

“You don’t know how to dance?????”. she slurred

“Are you even old enough to drink and be in this bar”, he retorted

That was a cheap shot. He shouldn’t have said something like that. Then he remembered. He usually said the first thing that came to his mind and that would always start a fight with her.

If he had only paused to think and not say half things he had said to his girlfriend, probably, just probably they wouldn’t have had so many fights.

She was quiet. She was pissed off. She ordered another drink. Gulped it down. Swaggered a bit. “All men are such bastards”

“Some men are bitches too”, he said quietly.

And she suddenly laughed. She howled. It was a weird horse kind of laugh on a beautiful woman who was drunk and yet sounded like a horse neighing.

He should definitely not tell her that.

He smiled. Keep the joke to yourself. Let her laugh at whatever made her laugh too.

“I’ll drop you home”, he drew near her and said.

“I want to dance” and with that she stumbled to the middle of the dance floor.

He picked her phone from the bar and called an Uber. From her Uber history, two places stood out, one seemed like her office and the other seemed like a residential area.

Locked it in. The Uber was on its way. He would get rid of her before they both did something they both would regret.

He grabbed her arm. Picked her purse. Checked the earlier table she was at and it was empty. Took her out of that place. She walked mumbling and rambling.

He put her in the Uber. Almost slammed the door. His heart shuddered.

He got into the Uber.

It drove to a destination. She slept soundly. Loud snores. She would wake up. Look out. Direct the driver and fall back. He was sitting there quietly all this while.

This wasn’t how he wished it turned out to be.

She woke up again. Directed the vehicle to a stop. He got out. She paid. The vehicle left.

She mumbled that she had to thank him again for dropping her home. She didn’t even know his name. He was afraid if someone spotted them all hell would break loose.

He asked her if she would be able to make it to the her house. She hugged him. Said thank you. She said she would call him later. She walked off into the night towards her home.

He watched and waited till he heard a door open and shut. A light flickered on in a flat above him. She was home. He had to leave this place. So much for being impulsive. He wasn’t looking for trouble.

He called an Uber and it drove him back to the bar.

He arrived much to the relief of the bartender.

“I thought you had left with her”, the bartender said aloud.

“I just dropped her home. She was in no state to walk and it was too late and I just wanted to make sure she reached her home safe and sound”

“But the ironic part was that she directed the Uber most throughout the way”

“Isn’t that interesting”, remarked the bartender.

“Saved everyone a lot of trouble”

“I guess”

“Would you have a drink with me?”, asked the bartender.

“Uh! Hmmmm Sure! Why not”

Also, thank you for not staring at my breasts like how most men do, said the bartender.

“I am sorry but I don’t think it is polite to stare unless…”, he replied

She smiled. She wasn’t able to make him out earlier but maybe just maybe she was beginning to figure him out.

“Cheers” – they clinked their glasses and drank.

She then went on to enquire with him as to how was the setup of the bar. He politely told her that it seemed like a good place. She dropped a megaton nuke on him when she sweetly told him that she owned the place.

His night was still young and wasn’t it enough for one night. Play along, his mind numbed him to it, see where it goes. Why is everyone out to have a drink or wants to have that bloody drink with me. Why!

He discreetly motioned her to one of the corner tables and told her about what happened between the woman and her boyfriend. The bartender said she would take care off it. She had seen a bit of it but didn’t intervene unless the woman motioned that she was in distress. She remarked vicariously that she saw the elbow being jammed into his nose & lips and she almost dropped a shot glass. Best day of my life she burst out.

Then she went on about how she always wanted to have a bar of her own and finally when she graduated out of college, she first worked in her uncle’s bar, learnt the ropes, picked up enough tricks of the trade, borrowed money from her daddy and set this place up. She seemed to be pleased with herself. Tonight she was bartending to get a feel of the customers who visited her place and her ears close to the ground.

Oh he believed her that she had more than her ears close to the ground. He wondered what was her interest in him.

She asked him where was he from. He vaguely answered her. She got the drift. She spoke about how she loved this bar of hers and how she also wanted to start a cafe with a small nook like library.  They both were drinking and she was pouring out her heart to a complete stranger. He remained quiet for most of the conversation.

The bouncer approached them cautiously and her face changed and gone was the woman who was chattering and suddenly appeared the quiet, reserved businesslike woman underneath all that veneer.

It seemed like she had taken off one mask only to wear another and then she took it off again just to wear the old one back again.

She began to walk away from the table. Turned around and said, “I say this as a friend and take this as friendly advice, they both are married to each other, I thought you should know, you seem like a good guy. Take care of yourself”

He wasn’t looking to start something but the night seemed to burst into enough warnings.

Why was it always him. Why couldn’t the world just leave him alone.

He paid his tab. Walked quietly to the door. And was never to be seen again.

They still say that there was a bearded stranger with sharp piercing eyes who had visited that bar one night, all hell had broken loose of sorts, people were disjointed out place and time, some say they saw him walk above the ground as if his feet never touched the ground, others say he was a good man who was just another passerby, stories were conflicted over what was he doing there because everyone had seen him leave with that woman and then come back later. The bar did well. The bouncers whispered that there was a nameless dark bearded stranger who visits their bar under the pale moonlight and he was their patron saint towards unruly guests. Slowly that bar grew repute and turned out to be the city’s most popular go to bars.

You would be much of a child when these events transpired. No one has ever seen him in that bar ever again but word spread because they knew there was his telltale drink, his telltale corner and his penchant for poetry. He grew into a dark urban legend. Someone to keep the revellers in place. But no one ever saw him again.

They say he was a Prince. A Prince of Dark Lightning. And we all know what they say about Lightning.

Have you seen such a stranger. Maybe he was slowly writhing and dying and burning and maybe that was his last night before he faded completely into the night.

 

Or did he?

Her Reality was just different than ours…

The lights were dim. They were waiting for her.

He was standing there in the shadows holding a glass of dark liquid.

Voices flew about like little children left unsupervised on a playground.

The scent of lust lingered. The soul was raw. Hearts ached.

 

Poets abounded in throes. Quiet ones. Drunk ones. The lost poets. The wary poets.

A gathering of poets and naysayers.

She moved like silk on an Egyptian handloom. The men couldn’t take their eyes off her.
The women hoped she would not be just another pretty face.

And then the lights dimmed. Everything went dark.

 

She woke up with the incessant buzzing off her phone. Like a wild chicken out of its coop, it raised an alarm against the fox that crept towards it. There was no fox but the day had dawned and she was late. All she could remember were fragments of the days gone by. Distant fading memories.

She pulled the curtains. The sun wasn’t awake yet. Maybe the sun was out with the clouds for coffee. She needed some. Her kitchen was a warzone. She poured a cup and got out. There had been enough bloodshed to last her a lifetime. The bodies of all her lovers lay strewn in her mind. They wouldn’t let her sleep and she didn’t want them around. She needed a distraction or something remotely close to it. Checked her phone, there was an event she had forgotten all about.

She had showered, dressed and rushed out to work. She needed to come up with something fast. But her mind was scattered like sunlight hitting the streets with no names. The day drew on. She couldn’t think straight. Cups of coffee from local cafes didn’t help other than to keep her awake. Her mind was a mess. Whose isn’t. If you have been betrayed, broken, lied to, cheated on, walked all over but that was not her reality. She was merely accused of it. She had to live with those accusations. Her lovers had to live with a total eclipse of the heart. She had walked away. Never returned their calls. Never returned their texts. Never looked back. Yet they appeared in the creeping corners of her mind haunting her dainty carefree steps.

She was heading to a local cafe that was hosting A Poet’s Night like a midsummer night’s dream. She didn’t know anyone in this place. She didn’t know people and they truly didn’t know her. None of her former lovers would be there. She had moved to this city to seek refuge from the world and its sorrows. Dark, quiet and smoky just like her mind was the cafe. The drinks were poured and served out to the patrons. Everyone had a glass. Everyone was escaping from something or escaping into something. Brutal hearts have no place to turn to in places like these. They often meet with loneliness and nonchalance.

 

The poets waxed and waned. The crowd murmured and sighed. The orators were good. They spoke words that made no sense to anyone other than to whom it made sense. The crowd dipped and ebbed towards the night. The drinks were refilled. The men were often caught staring vacantly. The women spent time chatting with lost souls and disinterested totems. She was due. She had to pay the price. The crowd wanted her blood, her sweat and her tears. She had none to offer but just words. Words that sounded like a soft whisper in the night.

She had walked up to the stage. To the drunken eyes onlooking at her, she appeared to have floated on. One lone pair of eyes was transfixed on her as if he had never seen anything like her before. She turned and saw his gaping mouth and their eyes met briefly. It only made her more nervous but then she tried to smile and felt her courage slip through her teeth. She looked around. Liquid courage was poured and she gulped it quietly away from the prying eyes. Enough concoctions and portions were floating around tonight. She needed something potent. She had come armed with words wrapped like bangles on her beautiful slender arms. She was a sight to behold. Could have walked away with any of them into the night without even uttering a word.

She was portentous. They didn’t see it coming.

By the time she was done wrenching her heart out, the crowd had gone wild. They were up on their feet. Gone were the drunks and now stood foot soldiers cheering and waving her. Her words had magic and she had weaved a spell on them. Pity the fool who had not yet fallen for her. That was the only way any of them would be walking out of that place sane.

He stood in that corner clapping like a toy soldier wound up so tight that his palms turned red. He had adored her since he had seen her. She had made him feel. Words couldn’t describe it. But she spoke about pain and longing. All he could feel was lust. She spoke about her unknown unforgiving past but he could only see her as his future. He didn’t even remember his own words that he had uttered in his drunken slur. He felt naked compared to her. She had enthralled his mind. His soul leaped for joy.

 

It was quiet.

She looked around, people were patting her on her back, talking, mumbling, saying incoherent things that she could hardly make out but their actions indicated they were impressed. Most of them gave her a standing ovation. Most of them went up to her and spoke to her. He remained on his perch. He remained with his whores that savaged his mind. He saw her leave. She glanced at him. He still didn’t move. She made a move towards the entrance. A few more people rushed up to her. Drinks were shoved into her hands. Numbers were exchanged. Did they get her name. They were lost in her big beautiful wide eyes. Her dark flowing hair. Her sweet smile that arched the corners of her mouth. With that last gesture of camaraderie she was out of that place. That bloody loser must have still been gaping at her with his mouth open. No guts, no glory. Probably he felt defeated by a much more better wordsmith and his male ego wouldn’t let him admit that fact. Maybe he was still a 20 year old posing as a 34 year old. Immature spoilt kid.

 

She had made her way quickly as she wanted to get home. She turned around to catch a cab and his breath hit her. He must have trailed right behind her all this while. Must have even mustered the courage to tap her on the back when at moment she must have spun around to hail a cab catching both of them unawares.
They were sitting in a cab now. Chatting, talking like lost lovers. All hell had broken loose. They had waited long enough. A lifetime indeed.

They had hailed a cab after their initial surprise and shock gave away to him breaking the ice by him blurting out something sweet yet silly. She had recognised him immediately. He wasn’t sure of that. He made an attempt to introduce himself. She pretended to play along. She even introduced herself to him. Maybe they both must have forgotten that a few hours ago they were on stage but introducing themselves individually to the crowd. Maybe she just liked his voice and wanted him to say something to her. Maybe it didn’t matter what. He seemed to be eloquently describing how good she was with words. He almost seemed to remember what she had narrated. Word for word.

Something innate within her was aroused. They hailed a cab without even bothering to ask the other. They sat in the cab and kept talking. Somewhere down the line, one of them stopped the cab at a cheap joint and they settled in for drinks. How they blushed like two newly weds entering a pristine chapel lost somewhere on the outskirts of the city. The bartender was their chaplain for the night. He presided well over them. They drank his treasures. They shared their hearts out in the open. Naked souls. Painful thoughts. Deep encompassing sadness briefly lit by the flickering light and their heaving bodies. Alcohol had no effect on them that night. They had crossed that line between rage and serenity. They bared their souls. They walked out of their unconventional chapel. Hailed a cab. Reached her place. She didn’t ask him if he wanted to go on his way. She just asked him if he was hungry. He pretended to be satiated yet his eyes spoke like Judas. He climbed her steps. Entered her home. Laid down in her bed.

She woke up next morning groggily. The alcohol must have hit her. She was alone on the bed. She had a faint memory of coming home with a stranger. She looked around. It was as if he had never been there. She pondered. She had never even heard him leave. Did he stay through the night. When did he leave. She put all those thoughts aside and got herself readied up for work.

Her coffee was cold but she wasn’t out of the door yet. She wanted to call in the day sick. She was anxious. She was restless. She was ansty. She was furious. This is how her lovers must have felt. It was her turn now. Fate was cruel. It played its hand. She had to pull through the day. Meetings happened. People came. People went. She walked in a daze.

Got home. Threw her things on the floor and rushed to her bed. She sobbed bitterly. She felt punished. Her past sins catching up with her. She cried some more.

The previous night and her entire day suddenly seemed like a gaping chasm out to swallow her whole. She needed to clear her head and get high.

A week passed. She cancelled all events and social outings. She would stay at home mostly. She felt disfigured. She felt angry. She couldn’t talk about it with anyone. She was biting her lips often and smashing her furniture out of anger. The rage had returned. Serenity had left her cold and senseless.

She didn’t need a hero. She didn’t need Hercules or a White Knight on a flaming steed. She wanted to see all men burn.

Her phone presently rang breaking through her mourning ritual. A voice chattered on the other line. It was the bartender. She immediately got a second call. It was the cafe where she had been that night. She placed the bartender on hold and answered that call. She heard the voice speaking briefly and she cut both calls and rushed out of the house.

She reached the cafe. It was bright day and there were no shadows to hide into.

He appeared and smiled nervously at her. She just stood there. But she didn’t want to make a scene. They stood at the side of the road.

He started off saying that he woke up very drunk that morning and he instinctively rushed for his clothes. He didn’t want to wake her as his phone had been ringing non stop. He had planned to come back for her. His battery was dying. He managed to catch a cab and he managed to reach his hotel. His friends had already packed his things and they had exited from the hotel. They were waiting for him in the lobby. They had to leave immediately to catch their flight and go back home. He couldn’t have come back for her as he was already running late for his flight. He didn’t have her number. He couldn’t have called her. He wasn’t from that city. He lived three states away. He reached his city and looked for anything that could have been  a means to reaching out to her. There was nothing. For all purposes it seemed like a one night stand. He searched for her on Facebook the moment he reached work that very day. She retorted that she had deactivated all her social media accounts ages ago and she was only available anonymously online. He never found her on social media. He went home and he couldn’t take leave from work even during the weekend. He rued his luck. He cursed his fortune. He couldn’t take it anymore. He called in sick to work. Caught the first flight out of the city and rushed to hers. He first started at the bar but the bartender was too wary to share her number. His next stop was the venue. No one remembered her anymore. His phone died out in the meanwhile. While he was still standing there in that cafe asking patrons and stewards about her, he sighted the guest book where she had signed her name, her address, her number and her email. He had no phone. The manager placed a call from the cafe just to make sure that this guy wasn’t some creep or some stalker. They didn’t hand her details to him. But the manager got through to her and informed her that someone had come to the cafe asking for her.

She had been unawares till the time she reached the cafe who it was.

A feeling of relief washed down over her. He stared at her blankly. He was waiting for her to move. She whispered. Come let’s eat. They sat in that cafe for some time. The stewards and the manager joined in celebrating the return of the prodigal son and the mourning daughter. She looked at him with tearful eyes as they had their last meal together. She wanted to know what did he plan to do now. He smiled mischievously that no one knew he was here in this city with her and he planned to keep it that way.

They reached home. This time they made out. She spent no expense at exploring him. He wasted no time in making up for lost time.

Eventually he left his job and moved into her city. Found a place together. Struggled for a bit to find a new job. Took some time to learn the local languages. But he had her. She was his guide. And he was her companion. They had each other. They spent every waking day discovering that city. They spent their nights sleepless in the arms of each other moving from one bar to another drinking to happiness, lust and deep found love.

– The End-

 

Stories like these are rare stories.

How would you ever know if it was someone’s dream, how would you know if it was ever someone’s reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

He had just bought a new phone. It wasn’t a fancy piece and yet it wasn’t a low end model either. He had spent considerable time reviewing and researching before he finally made up his mind.

The phone had come preloaded with social media apps. Probably the very thing that he needed. He was in a dark place and had not been in a bright place for a very long time. He didn’t make much sense either.

His friends would take him off for a drink and he would end up thinking out aloud her name. He was still mourning. He was still in grief. Misery flowed like a river and all the alcohol in all the gin joints couldn’t stop him from thinking of her. And today was just another night. The music played and his friends laughed and made mirth and he drowned himself into sorrow. A crumpled, torn, desolate, wanderer who was nothing of his former self. It didn’t help. The drinking. Nor the mulling. Nor the sense of I should leave my friends alone and spare them this pit of self wallowing.

He tapped his phone, the screen came to life. Lots of pretty girls, sweet ones, nice ones but he wasn’t a charmer or a rich guy either. He felt he didn’t have it in him to reach out to someone and just start a conversation.

She peered into his screen twice, ideally that should have been considered rude but he had noticed her when he had first sat down. She was with her friends. A bright chirpy girl with curly hair and her eyes darted all over the place. Her drink seemed like a cocktail of some sorts. Probably had a lot of rum and fun in it. She seemed to be having fun. And then her smile vanished. Two quick gazes at him and he knew she had spotted him looking at her. Didn’t want to come off as a creep. Now that was something else he had to worry about. This just kept getting better for him.

He had to look away. Pretend that he had not noticed her and something else on the wall had caught his attention. The Rock N Rollas’. The Musicians. The Living. The Dead. The Smoke. The Water. The Fear. The Dark. The Nothing that ever mattered anymore. Kept telling himself, don’t look over there. Stop being an idiot and scan the room and find someone else to play on your mind. Something about her. Couldn’t place it. But she seemed to exude warmth. Very much warmth and his heart needed some right now. He was too proud to beg for it and too dumb to steal.

A few hours had passed by now. The place was getting emptier. She was still there as if it was her home. Maybe her boyfriend worked out there. Maybe she was really interested in one of the guys that were drinking with her but her eyes didn’t focus on any one of them for long. Could feel her staring down his back. Almost as if she was breathing down on him and then he got a whiff of a woman’s perfume near him and he caught her staring at his phone.

He was scared. He wasn’t looking for trouble and she was right behind him. She has a straight face and she point blank asked him, did you just drop a message on so and so app. You looked like the guy who did it and I wondered, she said out aloud. Wait. What. Some random girl from the internet on some random social media app had visited Belgium and had posted a picture of her travels and travails and all he had done was put a comment to appreciate how much he wanted to travel to and  how much he liked the travel pics she had shared.
    He wasn’t prepared for her to come to life and walk up to him and ask him straight out if it was him. A few good things, she found him and probably this would cure him of posting on some random pretty girls travel pics. Secondly, he had longed for some human companionship other than his friends and this was the first time since he had been mourning that some stranger had spoken to him.

But this all had passed in an instant. She was still standing there, waiting for an answer. He had to say something. His words fumbled out and his heart was pounding, his brain was shutting down on him and he felt this was the end.

I didn’t know it was you, it appeared on my Timeline and I just commented on it, he said sheepishly and half apologetically.
Oh! The GPS must be switched on, came her reply.

Huh?

The app that you are using shows you people around you in the same local place that you are visiting and it lets you share stuff with everyone, she explained. But sometimes you get weirdos and stalkers and crazy loonies, she went on.

Bang on. You nailed it right girl. You said it all that I was so afraid to hear, he thought to himself.

But you look like a nice, decent guy
You seem a bit lost. May I sit here. And she plopped down next to him.

Where were his friends when he needed them. They had moved over to the pool table and there were some real drunk cute girls throwing glances at them. Alright, you are alone. You have no wingman and you have just been ambushed, he wondered.
What do you do. But he couldn’t think straight. It must have been the soft rock music or the alcohol or her scent wafting through his every breath and permeating through his skin. He found himself hoping he could reach out and just hold her and even be a bit more bold and kiss her.

She was talking and he was lost, thinking about her while she was right there in front of him. She seemed a bit drunk but chirpy yet defensive and yet nice.
She was explaining how the app worked. She was already adding him to  her friend list and she had his phone in her hand and was adding her to his friends list. She must have noticed he had no friends on that app. She must have seen his random comments on pictures shared by other girls but she didn’t seem to say anything about it. She handed his phone back to him and she picked her bag and she started to leave.

I shouldn’t be leaving my friends alone, she explained. And I just wanted to make sure but you seem okay, she said gutsily.

Whew! That was some sign of relief. The pangs had gone and it was replaced with curiosity and wonderment.

He wanted to know a bit more about her and he hoped she didn’t have to leave.

But she left.

She smiled. Waved. Said bye and left with her friends.

He woke the next morning and was early to work. He had forgotten all about his new phone and probably he was cured. Enough excitement for one night. Never step back into that bar. How stupid of you. He kept telling himself. Just let it go, she seemed nice and be grateful her friends didn’t take you into a dark alley and leave you with a few broken teeth. Serves you right, he angrily told himself.

His dark, angry gloomy thoughts were disturbed by a call.
He finished with it with great disdain and saw that he had a notification. He had given her his number and he had asked her for her number.

How stupid. How drunk. How idiotic. Cursing himself and trying hard to remember when did he message her.

Her number was the notification and she worked far away. Another part of the city. He didn’t know what to do. But the damage was done and he had asked her if she wanted to meet and she had said yes.
All this happened last night while he was on his way home and they both were a couple of drinks down and in their own respective homes.

He said yes. That he wanted to meet her. Suggested a place. A nice place. A bit out of his budget. She shot him down and asked him to come nearer to her work place. She offered up a few places they could go to.

He left from work with a strange look on his face. As if he was in a daze. He was going to meet a complete stranger and he knew nothing about her. She seemed nice and sweet and polite and brief in her conversations.

He looked her up on the app and it didn’t show much apart from the fact that she was all over the place. Lots of pictures with various groups drinking out. Probably this was something like that. Just someone you meet and invite for a drink and then forget all about each other. There are people like this he comforted himself.

But he wanted to know about her. Who was she. Who was he. He was damaged. Severely damaged. His psyche had taken a beating from his previous relationship and he didn’t believe in one night stands but he didn’t even want to think of love anymore.

He laughed. Look at your self. You used to brim with confidence and look at you now. What have you become my dearest friend, he mused.

He reached at a bit early. Excited and a stickler. Found the place. He was very good with finding places. And people too.

The place didn’t matter. He blindly rushed in. She wasn’t there.

Maybe she had backed off. His heart sank.

Maybe it was a joke.

Maybe she was laughing heartlessly with her friends.

Another one bites the dust.

He put her a message and she immediately replied that she was running late but she needed ten more minutes.

Probably she was delaying the joke.

Probably she was powdering her nose.

Probably he should just stop thinking.

But thinking was all that he could do.

He took a seat. Faced the door but from a nice comfortable corner in the room. He wanted her facing him and her back to the room and he needed to see anyone else who stepped in or out of that restaurant.

He ordered a coffee and stared around.
Nice place.

Few people. Most were still at work.

Some couples were scattered around the room but they didn’t seem to be holding any conversations. Just dead listless looks. Some had pensive looks. And some others seemed to be more interested in their phones.

And then she appeared.

A floral dress. A scarf. Off shoulder. Kitten heels. He couldn’t but help stare at her. He remembered to smile but she smiled back nervously.

He stood up gaping but blank otherwise.

I am sorry I am late. Something came up at work at the last minute, she nervously explained. He didn’t mind anymore. She was breath taking. She was beautiful. She realised he was staring at her and he remembered the night before. Should stop staring at pretty girls. But she was beautiful. He tried hard to look away. She caught his gaze every time when he looked at her.

He was doomed.

The pangs were back again.

She wondered if he was hungry and he asked her what was her favourite in this place and if she wanted to try something.

She threw the ball back at his court and asked him to order something for both of them. But he knew nothing of her likes or dislikes. He knew nothing about her tastes or needs or wants.
Stop thinking about needs and wants and order something, he told himself.

He called the steward and asked for a couple of suggestions, watched her nod and took cues and placed the order.

He watched her eyes but she wasn’t looking all over the place. It kept darting from her phone to him to the table.

Maybe she had another date. Maybe it was still a prank. Maybe she was expecting a call from her lover.

They spoke nervously and suddenly the air lightened and the conversation just flowed. Simple talk. Pleasant talk. Not too much and not too little. It didn’t seem like either was hiding but it didn’t seem superficial either.

They held such a good conversation that he lost track of time and the food kept coming and the drinks too. They seemed lost in each other. She genuinely seemed to be making an effort to know him and he was trying very hard not to share too much that could potentially put her off and yet not sound like he wasn’t trying to tell her too much.

He didn’t know how to go about this but this seemed nice. He seemed relaxed. She seemed like a sweet thing. She shouldn’t probably refer to her as a sweet thing but his mind was racing between her eyes and her lips and her perfume and her clavicle.

And then a voice broke their spell. There was a guy next to the table. At first he thought it must have been some patron wanting to visit the cloakroom and was just passing by but this guy was smiling. No wait. He was beaming. From ear to ear. And he just started talking to her.

She was still seated on the table but she had turned to face this newcomer, ‘unwelcome newcomer’ and this stranger and she seemed to know each other.

He asked her if he could join them and she said yes and he sat.

And now what do you do. Think. All hell has broken loose in your mind. Who is he. What’s happening. What do you do.

Stared at them for a few minutes and began to feel squrimish and uncomfortable and restless.

Excuse yourself and you should probably head to that cloakroom. Probably you need it more than him.

Asshat!

Stared at himself in the mirror and threw cold water on his face. He didn’t know what to do. How the heck did this happen. What do you make of it. What do you do.

Go back and tell him to buzz off. She would feel offended. He was her friend. She could consider it rude and you could be making it much more worse for yourself.

Go back and make some excuse and leave. But the both of you were having such a good time, what about it. Would you just walk away. Just leave her.

No. Think.

You shouldn’t have drank. Can’t think.

Maybe it’s anxiety

Maybe it’s absurd.

Look out

They are still there. Having some sort of conversation

He is touching her arms.

You are feeling sick and now you want to call a cab.

He is going to make out with her.

No.

It’s all in your head.

They are sharing a smoke.

She is offering him a drag.

No.

It’s all in your head.

Throw water at yourself.

Man up.

Go!

Can’t.

Crippled. Arrgh. You are an idiot. Go.

Do something

Look at you staring at her all over again from the cloakroom.

This is beginning to get tiring.

Break the cycle.

You are so doomed

Muster your strength and walk out.

There is no one at the table.

Wait! What!

Where did they go.

She left? They left?

Are they already in each others arms.

Damn fool. You were pacing up and down in the cloakroom and she vanished.

You are Daft.

You are a Joke.

Idiot.

Cursing yourself is not enough and then from the corner of your eye, you notice it.

Soft. Shimmering. Calling out to you.

Knows you intimately.

The edge of the table. A piece of cloth, hidden yet calling out to you.
You peer forward and it’s her scarf. Her bag is still here. Tucked away under the chair. Hidden by the table cloth.

Where is she. I don’t care where is he.
Where did she go.

The cloakroom? Nah

Your mind races.

How did you let it happen.

And then suddenly there she is.

She is entering the restaurant again. She is walking towards you hastily.

You are so angry and annoyed and hurt.

You are like a lost puppy but you are angry at yourself

Just hide it from her. Don’t let her see you like this.

A wreck.

Don’t ever date anyone ever again.

From the frying pan into the fire it seems.

I am sorry, I called him a cab, made sure he got one. I wasn’t sure how much time would you take but I am sorry, she said.

Relief. Anger. Relief. Confusion.

She is staring at you and she can see through your cracks.

You mumble. She nods.
Let’s make a move if you don’t mind, she asks.

You nod. She splits the bill with you. She offers to pay it all but you want to do something that probably you think saves your face and you both settle the bill.

“You okay?”, she asks.

“I am okay” you mumble.

Silence

Uncomfortable silence.

Awkward.

He is a friend whom I know and he stopped by to say hi, she says.

You nod. “It’s okay, it’s alright”

You lie.

You don’t know what to say. She seems to sense it. And she seems to be still conversing with you.

“What happened after that”, a little voice pipes up.

“Who was she?”, your grandson asks.

You are back at a table. But a different one. You are with your children and your children’s children.

You are celebrating 50 years of being with your one true love.

Your family is gathered around you.

Your eyes are blurry. You feel old.
Your face is moist. You look at her. She looks at you. You smile.

They want to know. They never knew.

So we walked out of that restaurant and on the way she explained how her friend had asked if he could join them and she just didn’t want to sound rude so she said yes. But she was sorry and she didn’t realise then that it would affect you so severely.

She jokes, I was so annoyed that you got up and didn’t come back soon.

You left me alone, she now complains.

” Don’t ever do that ”

Luckily I saw you peeking from the cloakroom and I knew you were checking on me, she says.

That was so sweet of you to check on me, she smiles.

I would have not left you at the restaurant, she reassures.

I would have not left you too, you say weakly.

Would you like marry me?, you ask.

She is stunned.

She did not see that coming.

She doesn’t say one word.

Next morning, there is a message. Would you like to meet for coffee, if that’s okay with you.

You rush to meet her and for the next many years, you meet constantly.
Have a lot of coffee. Meet in a lot of restaurants.

Walk down the aisle.

And now here you are telling your grandson how you both met.

Your kids didn’t know. You never told anyone. Your grandson seems a bit like both of you.

Sigh.

The stories we keep to tell our grandchildren and the hope we have for them.

She has tears in her eyes. She remembers it a bit differently. She must have always known but you never told her, did you.

She made your world perfect and you didn’t want to lose her.

She filled you with so much happiness that you forgot all your sorrow.

She brought you out of the dark place you were in. She was the warm light at the end of a long cold tunnel.

The Love of your life.

                     THE END

Kahlil Gibran — ‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.