She sat at the centre of the table surrounded by suits. The black, blues and greys waiting patiently for her approval. A peculiar shade of brown was making a presentation. “This day could use a drink” Leah thought as she flipped through the papers on the table. It was her sixth meeting for the day, and she had already made up her mind. The room fell silent as she rose to speak.
“Gentlemen” she said, standing tall and pretty. “the contract is yours, I shall be seeing you at the welcome dinner of the tallest building on skyline of our city, exactly a year from now”
“But ma’am” said the presenter “one year would be cutting it too thin”
“Then stop wasting time and get started” she said, picking up the papers.
All eyes were on her even when the men spoke among themselves
“You guys have a nice evening” She said as she walked out of the door.
She got into her car and typed a text to a pre set list of people. “One hour, the usual place” it read. By the time she drove out of the parking, she had five confirmation messages on her phone.
Leah drove through the city listening to music for about an hour. “The Usual Place” was where she mostly went to get a drink with friends. She pulled in, in front of the gate and handed the car to a brightly smiling valet.
“Good evening madam” he said”Good evening John” she said “Have the others come?”
She smiled at him and walked in a familiar looking place. It was mostly dark with dim lights breaking through evenly. Soft music played contently in the back ground. She was directed to her favourite corner by the manager. She walked through acknowledging every smile with a nod. The corner was at the farthest end of the joint. It had a complete view of the place. Leah sat on the darkest side of the high table. She could see a lot of new faces around. Fridays had the pub hopping crowd making rounds of the place. She checked her phone for updates from the people she was waiting for. “Trafucked” was emotion shared by all of them. She knew she would have to wait alone for a while so she signalled the waiter.
“Rum and coke, madam?” he said with a bright all knowing smile
“No Jo, I shall have a Cherry Martini today” she replied. He noted it in his pad and walked away.
She was celebrating the beginning of new project. Her drink was brought to her within minutes. The first sip sent a warm feeling through her. She smiled to herself, set her glass down and began what she loved to do. Watch people. She loved reading gestures and expressions. She had read and researched it extensively, which made her good at it. It had also helped her in not giving away her emotions unless necessary.
On the table across her sat a couple having an animated conversation. The girl touched the man’s arm lovingly while trying to explain something to him. Leah couldn’t hear them but from the gestures she knew that the girl would succeed in whatever she was trying.
Her gaze moved to two people walking to their table. The man had his hand on the small of the lady’s back. She moved her hand on the rim of the glass as her eyes followed them. The man was almost showing off his girl. The girl moved along as if she belonged to him.
She liked what she saw but the feeling going through her were confusing. Everyone around belonged somewhere and to someone. But Leah didn’t belong anywhere and she never really belonged to anyone. People thought she was too wonderful, too wonderful to belong to them or that something too wonderful would hurt too much to lose.
She took a big sip of her drink still lost in thought. She was a dream chaser, she chased them one at a time and transformed them into reality. She had travelled around the world doing it, so the word home did not have a permanent address for her. Her friends said she was like water, she took the shape of the glass she was poured in and fit right in. Her thoughts were interrupted by someone pulling the chair next to her.
“Crazy traffic hour” the girl said signalling the waiter, who walked to them in reflex. “Get me a long island please” she continued
“Its nice to see you Kay” Leah said shaking her head “Bad day at work?”
“Isn’t that like everyday” she replied “Unless its your work, what are we celebrating?” she asked signalling to Leah’s drink
“The beginning of Orion” Leah answered
“Orion! the tallest building in the city, with a revolving restaurant on the top, congratulations! ” Kay smiled “I could drink to that” She raised the glass the waiter placed on the table.
They clinked glasses
“Tell me what you were thinking about when I walked in” she tapped Leah’s hand “Your observations are always fun”
Leah moved her eyes in the direction of the couple she was observing.
“I was thinking of longing and belonging” she said “Of how someone who has everything, would still yearn for just a feeling, and how it..” she stopped talking as she noticed Sam approach.
She shifted in her chair a little. She liked him and knew that he liked her back. Both of them had decided on being with each other without any commitments. It worked well for them. Both of them had jobs that took most of their time and attention, leaving little to spare for any kind of relationships. Leah loved the arrangement as much as Sam did. There were times when she missed having something more but she simple chose to ignore the feeling. There were times when the feeling was stubborn, those times, like today she just hid them behind a mask
Sam kissed her cheek and hugged Kay.
“Congratulations on the Orion babe, you make us so proud” he said holding her hand
“Thank you” she replied, wishing just a little that there was a ‘me’ instead of an ‘us’ in the statement
She felt his hand move away from hers casually as it was placed upon, as he took the chair opposite her.
“So what did I miss?” He said
“Leah was just telling me about belonging” Kay said stuffing food her in her mouth and pointing the fork the direction of the couple.
Sam looked over and saw a girl rest her head on the shoulders of the man sitting next to her.
“Belonging” He said, weighing his words “makes us vulnerable, I think”
He looked at Leah as he spoke.
“What do you say princess Leah?” he asked
Leah finished her drink, and bit on the drunk cherry.
“We all long to belong, But maybe some of us aren’t meant to belong. Some of us have to turn the world upside down and shake the hell out of it until we make our own place in it.” She said from behind her ice cold mask.