The Story

You walk down the road, you purposefully turn left at the crossroads, you know exactly where you are going. You ignore all the emptiness that surrounds you in every direction and just keep walking. A right here, a left there and suddenly after an hour of walking you are back where you began, an old and crumbling building at the corner of an empty street half hidden by the branches of a large banyan tree. You look up at the light shining though the window of the fourth storey flat, take a deep breath, push through the gates and pass through, thinking that it wasn’t so hard after all. You begin the climb up the stairs and suddenly it seems like it’s impossible again, the stairs feel like they go on forever. You pause and wonder, maybe it isn’t such a good idea after all, it is 4 o’clock in the morning, but then the memory of the light shining through the window flashes across your eyes and you can almost feel its welcome warmth. You start climbing again, faster this time, willing your legs to carry you with utmost speed towards your destination. At last you reach, out of breath but feeling glad that you made it this far, for realization dawns that coming this far was the easy part. You steady your breathing and reach for the doorbell and give it a push with no effect, you let out a small laugh, feeling like fate was laughing at you, testing you to see if you would give up. Feeling steadier now, you raise your hand and gently knock three times and then take a step back. You wait for something to happen but nothing does, so you step forward and try the doorknob and find it unlocked. You hope to God that you did the right thing and push open the door and the sight that beholds you reassures you that it was the right thing to do. A small figure is curled up sleeping in an armchair pulled up near the window, a book has fallen from her outflung arm onto the floor, glasses are still perched on her nose. You continue to stand at the doorway and look around the room, hardly anything has changed since the last time you were here, the same old sofa, the ancient lamp on the table beside it, the armchair by the window, the cabinet with the assorted showpieces from around the world, even the television set looked unchanged. Your eyes were drawn back to the sleeping form in the armchair, you look at her for a long minute, then cross the room and crouch beside her so that your faces are level. You wonder if you should wake her up, she looks so peaceful, then feeling like you would go mad if you didn’t speak with her, you place your hand on her shoulder and gently shake her awake. She opens her eyes but doesn’t move and smiles her welcome like she has been waiting for you for a while and then she lifts her hand and slaps you across your face. You are shocked and jump up yelling, “What the…?” to which her only reply is, “What took you so long?”. She sits up now amused at the stunned look on your face, “What? You forgot that I can be unexpected?”. You make haste to rearrange your expression to one of mild annoyance, clear your throat and say, “Your door was unlocked, anyone could have come in”. She looks over at the door, nodding her agreement and then looks back at you, “But nobody else did, did they? Besides, the doorbell was not working and I knew I could count on you to show up the most unearthly hour when I was bound to be asleep and knowing your fascination with fate, you would probably leave and I wouldn’t see you again for another ten years.” She spoke lightly but you couldn’t help feeling that you were as predictable as ever while she would never cease to surprise you. You say, “I saw your light on” at which she throws back her head and laughs, “For heavens sake would you stop stating facts?” but you are tongue tied, having agonized over this moment for so long, now that it has come you don’t know what to say. She sighs, rises from the chair, comes towards you and saves you the trouble of thinking of something to say by placing her lips on yours. And in that moment, all your doubts vanish as you pull her into an embrace and kiss her back with a passion that you haven’t felt in years and time just stands still for you in that moment. Nothing else matters.

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