It was the Monday morning when I received a call. Two years and six months, that’s the amount of time it took for him to realize, I exist. Not just as a body, but a person.
“Hey,” said Robert.
His voice still had the timbre of deep intensity and I could imagine him standing close to me, whispering into my ears, slowly. ”Was I dreaming?” I thought to myself. No, said my mind. This was clearly not a dream. The man for whom I once travelled all the way across the country just so I could see him, was on the other side of the phone. I crushed on him in my high school days. Silly of me; never had any chance to express my feelings for him. I listened patiently as he continued.
“How are you? It’s been a long time,” said Robert, and he waited for an answer.
My mind rushed into the nothingness inside me as the words, “How are you?” echoed into my ears. The sound reverberated, making a shrill noise inside my head, a sound that only I could hear. Should I say, “I am not okay?” or should I lie to him? I had still not recovered from my past injuries. Not the ones that hurt your body, blood and pain. Those injuries hurt my soul and never bled, but the pain was many times deeper. Placing my thoughts aside, I replied in a neutral tone, “I am okay.”
I knew that was a lie. I figured if Robert does know me, he will figure out the same. However, it was the past. Now, after two and a half years, how can I expect him to know me? I don’t even know myself.
“Would you like to meet?” asked Robert in a pleasant voice.
Meet? My hands began to tremble as he said those words. I am not prepared. I don’t know. Is this necessary? I wish I could say NO, but then again this was Robert. The love that I’d lost. I at least wished for him to be the friend. But it was too late. I had lost myself. I had no confidence. No hope of a better tomorrow. I had no idea why I said yes. He seemed pretty excited. We hung up after we decided a date for our meet and the place.
“Today at 6 P.M. near the Purple Park,” I whispered under my breath. Why 6 P.M.? I was puzzled. I looked at the clock, it read 12:00 P.M. exactly. I went near my bed and sat beside the table which had all my favourite books piled on top of each other. The weather outside did not look good. It was chaotic, with thunderstorms and no sight of nature that flourished with beauty. I closed my eyes, simply wanting to peek inside my mind. I wondered, how is my weather today?
Two Hours Later…
“Sara. Are you there?”
“Open the door! Let us in.”
“Come on now. Are you dead or something.” There was a sound of giggling in the background.
“Why don’t you call her? She must be listening to her favourite song. Perhaps this call would let her know about us,” said one of the three girls who stood outside Sara’s house.
“Exactly. We had a trip planned. How can she not come? Julia, just call her!”
“Okay. Okay. I am dialling,” said Julia.
The click of someone picking up the receiver sounded.
“Hello? Is this Sara? Where are you? We have been waiting outside your house for like an hour now,” said Julia. There was no answer.
“I think she isn’t home. No one is answering,” Julia said.
“Ah, I knew she would ditch us. Let’s just leave,” said Miranda.
Few Months Ago…
“I can’t believe we are finally having the best time together. You are such a lovely person, said Chris as we both looked into each other’s eyes. There was a bond. A connection.
As we starred into each other’s eyes, it almost felt as if we are connected. As if, we can almost look into each other’s soul if only we came a little closer. I felt the sensation rising through my nerves. I noticed Chris wanted the same. His eyes now reflected a thirst of something that he wanted so bad. Slowly he approached me. I realised this is that moment in a relationship when I must make a choice. A choice to cross any boundaries. A choice to give into pleasure. I had to be aware. I need time to think, if this is right.
In the next second, as his face approached mine, I noticed his eyes now reflected something else. A thirst was how it started. But now I saw lust. That deep sense of want was evident. His face began to make gestures at me. I sensed danger.
“No,” I said. We almost kissed and I almost fell prey to my own demons.
His eyes shifted back to normal, for a second, Lust was nowhere to be seen. Still, I noticed a faint shade of red from the edges. He spoke nothing for a brief moment, I know he must have felt awkward or was it rude? I have no idea. I think it was important for me to get a hold of myself. I did. Little did I know, this decision would change my life. And it all happened in the next few minutes.
After the date, we both went out for a walk. It was 9 P.M. as we walked past few grocery stores, some of my favourite restaurants in the town, and a place that I loved more than anything, “The Invisible Charm of Books” Yes! I fell in love just knowing the name. But we kept walking. Perhaps Chris never really cared about my likes or dislikes. Still, he knows how much I love going to book stores.
As we moved ahead, Chris stopped suddenly and pointed at a distant park.
“That’s where we are going,” he said. His eyes held joy. I wondered why.
“The Purple Park,” I said, reading the sign just above the entrance to the place.
It was a great place. People coming from various nearby cities visited this place, because it carried a sense of harmony. I felt warmth around as I saw children playing games, old people sitting quietly with few of their friends and smiling. I saw more people who were seated on a special bench, “The Lover’s Bench”, they say. I found it amusing. Just then the feeling crossed my mind, if Chris was planning for us the same. My assumptions changed when he booked a private bench for us. It was located behind the park, near a fountain. There was no one around. Just me, Chris…and something else.
SILENCE. It was silence.
I am a people person. Never really thought about it or had a discussion on why people enjoy silence so much. I don’t hate it. I just don’t like it. For me, silence is scary. Silence means danger with a capital D. We got seated at our special private bench. The staff there also served us some juice and food. It was a lovely experience, except the silence. Chris approached me. I knew this feeling. It was the same as what I’d felt in the restaurant.
“You look beautiful,” he said. I saw the hint of lust again.
“What am I to you?” I asked, feeling doubtful.
“What?” He took a step back as if puzzled by the question.
“You know. We have just started to date. I don’t know you well. You don’t know me well. You are strangely interested in my looks and body. What is it that you wish?” I was already aware of his answer. I knew he desired my body more than me. More than my ideas. More than my decisions. I waited for an answer.
He stammered out, “I don’t know. You are my girlfriend. I love you.”
“Even if I were black, brown, perhaps not beautiful. Will you still love me?” I asked immediately. I needed an instant answer. This is something every girl, anywhere in the world would want to know. For me, the answer has to be true. It has to be without filters. It has to be quick. It has to be on point.
There was a long pause. Chris still struggled to think of words to answer this simple question. I certainly, got mine. It was 9:20 P.M. as I got up and began to walk away. He should have stopped me. He didn’t. And that’s why I never met him again.
However, this story of love and life did not just include Chris and me. Oh no! There was someone else. Robert, a friend of Chris’ and my high school crush. He was the first person Chris introduced me to. As strange as it may sound, the moment I saw Robert after such a long time, I developed a massive crush on him. Forgive my self-control, I tried my best to focus on my relationship. But there he was, the perfect boyfriend—as I would dream of him to be since my high school days—was standing beside both of us in his leather pants and fancy shirt with a beard every girl would die for.
I knew I would have him. Things took a new turn, when Robert asked for my number after I and Chris had a break. I never actually expected for him to make a move. Yet, there he was.
I closed my eyes. Just wanted to take a peek inside my mind. I wonder how my weather is today.
It was a new experience for me. I have never really travelled inside me. I felt a little uneasy. Images of different people ran through my mind, now visible to my inner sight. I could see myself standing at a distance waiting for someone near the bus stop. It was a messy place, really. People all around me. The sun had set and the lights were slowly fading away. This was the call from the night. I could feel my presence deep within. Yes! I was alive. Time went past me as the lights slowly faded to nothing.
I waited. For someone. Not exactly, who or what. There was a longing. A need for a person maybe. Or was it just something that I wished to possess or be a part of? I had no clue. I saw nothing as it was dark. So dark, in fact, that I would not even notice if there was something In front of me. Slowly, the lights came back again. The sun showed up and so did the virtual reality. Thousands of men, standing in front of me. I was scared.
For a moment, I thought I was dreaming. “Silly of me. I should open my eyes now!” I thought to myself. But I couldn’t. I was trapped in my own dream. People kept approaching me. Not people. Men. Hundreds of them. It was a dreadful sight. I took a step back and saw I was no more standing at the bus stop. I was standing inside a phone booth. Locked.
I screamed in shock. There were no ears to listen to my cries. I tried picking up the phone and dialling few random numbers. There was no answer. I didn’t know how to escape this virtual world. Or was it real?
Just then, I heard a voices echo inside my head. They were familiar voices.
“Julia? Miranda!” I exclaimed. I was trapped inside the phone booth and now my head felt heavy. Men surrounded me from all sides as they pushed themselves onto the phone booth, but luckily it was locked. How the hell did I get in here?
I have to do something. Or else I would be trapped here for ever. I tried using the phone a couple more times but no good. I pinched myself trying to wake me up. Instead the moment I tried to shake my physical presence, I would feel a shock. Someone is playing with my abstract self.
I noticed that Chris was among the many men who surrounded me outside the phone booth. He was wearing the same outfit that I saw him wearing the night we had our last date. He looked terrible. I wish I could say it was a decent look for him, but it wasn’t. None of the men who stood near me had any spark whatsoever. All I could see was lust. A want that never vanishes. A want that maybe never would.
Just then the phone beside me rang. I was taken aback by the sudden change of events. It wasn’t working and now… I felt scared to pick it up. Somehow I managed to muster up all my strength amid the chaos and picked up the phone. And then I heard Julia’s voice.
“Hello? Is it Sara? Where are you? We have been waiting outside your house for like an hour now.”
“Hello. Hello. Julia. Is that You? Please save me. I am trapped here!” I spoke all in one breath.
“I think she isn’t home. No one is answering.”
Odd, couldn’t they hear me? “No, I am speaking. Can you hear me? Hello?” I said in a desperate tone.
“Ah. I knew she would ditch us. Let’s just leave.” said Miranda.
“No. No. No. Don’t leave!” I cried as I heard them moving away. Then the line went dead. I fell right there. Inside the phone booth, as my last hope seem to disappear.
As I looked out towards the many men who now seem to be spacing away, I saw him.
“Robert!” I exclaimed.
As he slowly approached the booth, the men who’d once wanted entry now seemed to be moving away. With every step he took in my direction, those men took ten steps away. What was happening?
Robert neared my position. Somehow, he had the keys which would unlock the booth. I was shocked and happy at the same time.
“Come with me! Will you?” he asked.
I had no choice but to trust him. Strangely, this time I was ready and prepared to answer him. We moved out of the locality and he drove me back to my house. I had a strange feeling. A feeling of being home. Not that I was away for like a year, but it felt good somehow.
“Take care. We will meet tomorrow. What do you say? 9 PM at the Purple Park?”
“Yes! Sure.” I said, trying not to feel too excited, but feeling that way, nonetheless.
I walked to the front door of my house, unlocked it, and went straight to my room. I went near the bed and sat beside the lantern. As I looked out from the window, I noticed the weather outside, in this virtual world of mine, was amazing. Somehow, I’d managed to fight this chaos. Somehow I managed to fight my demons. Somehow, I’d managed to find answers to my question. I felt at peace and confident enough to make my decisions. I was finally prepared for my future. Today was a day full of randomness and my mind felt heavy. I closed my eyes so I could relax and feel this moment.
Just then I heard my cellphone ring. Is this yet another Paradox? I thought. I picked up the phone to hear his voice. This was real. I was back to my world.
“So, are you ready for our first date?” he asked.
“Yes. I am ready.”
My words reflected many things. One being my self-awareness and the other being my hope. Both were back. I was more stable. More confident. Ready to face the world. Ready to risk it all, again. But I won’t tell him everything. Some secrets are better left undisclosed. For now, I guess he only needs to know, that I am back to being myself.