“One double shot espresso for Tara” said a bland voice from behind the counter. Working on Christmas eve was hard on everyone and it showed.
She fumbled out of her chair, bumping her knee, dropping her phone then picking it up. The scarf carelessly placed around her neck, slipped off. “Not now” She said, picking it up. The rebellious streak of white hair she had captured under a clip took this moment to fall to her face. She pushed it behind her ear firmly. “This day could use a double shot” she grumbled almost running into someone as she made her way to get her coffee. She knew what she wanted to write but the words in her head were on a mutiny. This had been a common occurrence for last couple of years. A thick sediment of life laden with grief had slowed her down. She just sat there, staring at the blank screen holding the warm cup in her cold hands.
“Bad night?” A man from the next table asked “Deadline chasing me” she said not even looking away from the screen of her laptop “You mean you are chasing a deadline” he said “yes, that” she said, still uninterested. “Loosen up a little, Grinch. It’s Christmas after all” the man teased.
She looked up, angry words now queuing up in her head ready to be blasted off in his direction.
Her face went white looking at his face. “I thought you were dead” she managed to say “Because I used to say I would die if you left me?” he smiled “Apparently it does work like that!” “I know it doesn’t work like that” she said, awkwardly. “But you didn’t know this when you left me” he chuckled, pulling the chair in front of her. “That was an eternity and a day ago, Sam. I haven’t heard from you in decades.” She was almost apologetic. “Neither have I” he replied “I couldn’t. I thought you hated me” she went on “I did” He said, still stoic “Did?!” she was a little surprised. “Of course I hated you Tara, you took my forever from me. After you were gone, I hated everyone and everything and myself for a long time. I spent months going through the may be’s. May be it was my fault, may be it was you, may be we were never meant to be, may be it was God, destiny..I scratched them all off.” he said softly while his eyes screamed “I found no answers, I let it go. I let you go” She said nothing. She couldn’t. “I looked you up a few years ago. You know that feeling you get when you touch the scab of an old wound? Dry but alive. That’s how it felt. Looking at you sparkle made me proud, I knew I never hated you, I just hated life without you.” He took a sip out of her coffee “It’s cold” she signalled at the cup “Yeah like you are” He tittered “What’s been up with you recently, with this whole brooding, grieving, loner thing? I know life happened. I know its hard, but we got to keep living Timtim, we got to keep loving” She smiled. She had hated being called that, but he had done it anyway because he thought was a clever pun but more because it bugged her. “Why are you here, Sam?” “I am here because may be it was time for me to reach out..”
“One double shot espresso for Tara” said a bland voice from behind the counter. Working on Christmas morning was hard on everyone and it showed.
“May be what belongs to you, finds a way. May be forever is real. May be..” she typed on her laptop, smiling as she fumbled out of her chair.
Wrapped in a white fluffy towel with her hair tied up, fresh out of the shower she was standing in front of her wardrobe, staring at it blankly. The room was almost dark. The blinds weren’t open yet, it was just about day break. “This was supposed to be easy” she whispered to herself as she sat down on the bed. He ran his finger on her back. Tracing the line the an errant water droplet had left. “The black one” he said “and the black diamond pendant” It was a perfect choice for the day she had lined up. “Go back to sleep” she said, kissing him on his cheek. “What! No payments for the consult?” He was grinning! “Add it to the IOU account!” She retorted. “hmph” he replied grumpily She picked the black dress that hung in the line of power suits and skirts. “The shoes we picked from that crazy store in Amsterdam” her favorite voice said half asleep from inside the comforter. Her day needed a dash of black on it. His choice was perfect.
It was a one of the biggest cases of her career. The butterflies in her stomach were a constant reminder of it. She was prepared to fight it and win it but she was as always a little nervous. Her usual ride to the office was from the back seat, in complete silence. Today she chose to drive herself. Dismissing the driver, she took over the controls of the car. Searched her playlist patiently to find the song that she needed to hear, increased the volume to louder than the thoughts in her head and hit the gas.
The courtroom seemed colder than usual, also extremely silent. “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me” she hummed as she walked towards her team huddled up together. “How does it look?” she asked the extremely tensed faces. “We only have closing statements left, it could go either way from there”one of them replied. “Shouldn’t we have taken the bargain we were getting?” asked a pair of eyes that were holding back more than just pressure. “There is no bargain on beliefs Missy” She sighed “The media is going to crucify us, if we don’t make it” another said “Until we don’t have to die for some else’s sins, I think we will be able to take it” She said as she stood up. The phone on her table silently flashed a “All the best love”
The court was in session.
“Is the prosecution ready with their closing statement?” said her favorite voice in the entire world “Yes Your Honor” she replied looking straight at him She spoke with words that came right out of her heart. Every sentence carrying its weight. By the end of her statement she saw faces around her change. A whole lot of emotions ran free. A pair of eyes on her team had finally let it go. “Thank you Counselor” His voice was composed and very calming. She walked back to her seat. “Is the defense ready with their closing?” He looked at the other side of the room The defense attorney went on to make his statements to the judge who was not just listening but seeing through each of them too. “The defense rests” the gentleman had already made his way back
It was the moment of truth for both the sides as the judge began to speak “After hearing both the sides of the argument very diligently made by the attorneys, the facts compel me to rule in the favor of the defendant”
There was an uproar of voices in the court. The defense was celebrating. Her team was shattered. They had lost. There was complete silence in her head, she could only hear what his eyes where telling her while not saying a word. He stood up, the courtroom stood up for him and he was gone.
“Chin up guys” she said to her people who were still in disbelief “we know we did our best” “The media is at the front, would you want to leave discreetly?” her associate asked “We went to war for something we believed in. We lost. The scars that come from the battleground are not to be ashamed of” she replied “There is no compulsion for anyone of you to walk with me” she meant every word she said
She walked out to a frenzy of cameras and microphones. Everyone on her team behind her.
The reporters were brutal with their questions. She replied to each of them with a stoic face and a modulated voice. Her demeanor was ice cold. The questions kept getting nastier in search of a reaction, the reporters were getting frustrated. That only got her more in control of the situation. She wasn’t going to lose this one. “How does it feel to have Justice Singh rule against you?” one asked “He did his job well, as I did mine” she responded “Did he not help with your case?” another one asked “I did not need help” She replied “Clearly you did! I mean what’s the point of being with a Judge then?” “Sir, I wear heels higher than your standards of life” was the last thing she said to them
The team decided they needed to drown the day in cheap alcohol. Her associate asked her if she would want to join them at a dingy watering hole in downtown. She agreed. “I don’t think they will have premium alcohol you drink” he smirked “Today deserves cheap rum” she said “I will meet you there” She walked towards her car, dragging her feet. The heels that had made her feel like she ruled the world were now feeling like shackles. The idea of driving didn’t seem very appealing at that time. As she opened the lock of her car, her driver walked up to her. Almost mechanically she gave him the keys and settled on the back seat. “Aap yahan kya kar rahe hain, maine to nahi bulaya tha na?” she asked him how he was there “Sir ne phone kiya tha ma’am, bole zaroorat padegi aapko meri” he replied She smiled for the first time since the day had begun.
Reaching home inebriated wasn’t something she had done in a long time, but the copious amount of rum had made sure it had happened. She fumbled with her bag, to find her keys. Standing outside the door in dim light she saw her name written on the name plate. Just below her’s was his name. “Justice Singh” The house smelt like someone who knew how to cook was at it. She saw him as she climbed up the stairs, as he saw her. He walked up to her, took her bag off her arm, held her head and pulled it into his chest. The ice cold prosecutor who had faced the world with composure just melted. “Did you cook?” she asked face still buried deep into him “I did!” he replied holding on to her “Did you not need to be at the office?” she asked, still not letting go “I needed to be here more than anywhere else” he tucked her hair behind her ear. “I lost” her voice was heavy “I am disappointed in myself” “You did good, Love. It was just a bad day at work. Or a bad judge may be?” he chuckled “Hey! I love that judge” she wiped her tears, still holding on to him “And said judge loves you back” he hugged her a little harder “I am wasted” she said sniffling “As is my white shirt with all the kohl marks you are leaving on it” he smirked, distracting her “Will get you a new one” she said moving away “Or you could just add it to consultancy charge from the morning!” “Did we make the news?” her sentences were taking time to form “You made the headlines counsellor” he replied “As did your heels” “The ones we got from that crazy store in Amsterdam” she laughed She took off her shoes, stood on her tip toes and kissed him. “I am glad you chose them” she said “And I am glad you chose me” “I will choose you over and over and all over again, every day” He hugged her His choice was perfect. He was perfect!
She walked into the airport much before she was needed to. It was an ordinary day. The world was in busy keeping it like that, because out of the ordinary scared the world. She blended into the normal perfectly that day. Grey shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers. The only thing that stood out were her shades. She was the only one wearing them. It was not the kind of day that needed shades.
She walked up to the gate, dragging her bag like it was taking everything she had, showed her ID at the gate and started to move along when a stern looking guard stopped her. He gestured for her to take her shades off, he needed to see her face to make sure she was the same person from the card. She did. His face softened a little, like he almost smiled. He gestured her to go on. She smiled back, as she walked away, putting the shades where they were. Her bloodshot eyes were still holding back tears.
She walked into the aircraft in some sort of daze, not remembering the rest of the time spent at the airport. All she could remember was the pain. Something deep inside was hurting. Like it was hollow yet overflowing with excruciating agony.
She had the window seat.
“Are you alright miss?” the cabin crew asked her after the plane had settled on the cruise altitude “I will be” she replied.
She knew she had to be alright. She needed to do something about it, in that moment she needed to stop feeling. She took out her laptop and started typing.
I am told that time heals everything and that I won’t feel like this forever. What I am not told, is what do I do with myself right now. I cannot stop crying, right now. I cannot let go, right now. I cannot think of existing like for a moment more, right now. I know all about time and wounds healing, but even if I had all the time in the world, I still don’t know what to do with all this hurt right now.
She looked outside the window, wiping the tears, rolling down from her now sore eyes.
Before I met him, I never knew what it was like to look at someone and smile for no reason. His hands were the only ones mine fit perfectly into. His voice was the only sound I fell asleep to. He was the only one I thought of when my favorite song played. He was the one i was bound to by the invisible cord that tied soulmates together. He was my red thread. And I snapped it.
I snapped the red thread and let him go, because real life has a cost. Where none of us won, and both of us lost.