“I hate that you are such a narcissist” She whispered. “That’s the fun of this, even that makes me feel good” he smiled, moving closer to her. “You cannot be proud of that” she frowned. “But I am, cause someone who cannot love himself, is incapable of loving anyone else” He replied, kissing her.
Lying in the shade of the jacaranda tree, he could feel her flutter around his thoughts, pretty as ever in her white summer dress. Sunlight filtering through her long hair, lighting him up blisssfully. She had always managed to set things right for him. He did not want to blink. She was his favourite illusion.
They had never met yet every word he wrote cast a spell over her. The enchanted moments were all that she had. He was far away but his words weren’t. They held her in a tight embrace on a cold night. They left a lingering fragrance around her. She was drenched in his perfume.
Even when he had been gone a long time, her mind was clouded with his thoughts. It happened a lot more on some days than others. Today was one of those when she had to push them away just so she could get some work done. She sat staring at the computer screen for a long time. Reading, yet not turning the page, just lazing around between the lines.
She could have done it for hours, but her dog had different plans. He needed to be taken out for his walk. She looked at his cute little face which had the most innocent eyes, looking back at her with his leash in his mouth. She shut her computer and walked to the door, with Mr. Bond in tow.
Walking on the usual route she kept her eyes on the casanova she was walking as he socialized with his clan. Just as the thought of he being a very well behaved dog crossed her mind, Mr. Bond ran, as if on a mission, pulling her along with all his might. She turned the corner behind him and her heart stopped beating even when it was racing. There were a lot of people on the side walk but her eyes saw just him.
He was down on one knee, holding the dogs face in his hands, telling him that he missed him. He looked up and met her eyes. She let the leash drop as he walked towards her. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. His hug said it all.
They stood there in a crowd sharing an intimate moment, kissing each others wounds as they healed. Caressing the torn skin and mending the broken parts within.
She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world when she wrote. She wrote because she needed to write, because she hoped someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside her or bring something back to life. She was stubborn, she was wise. She was immoderate and volatile. She spoke through her eyes, and mostly wore a disguise.
His car screeched on to a halt right in front of the crowd that had gathered along with their cameras. The shutterbugs went crazy clicking even when all they got was the black of his tinted windows.
He was used to the limelight. It had followed him around for a few years now. He had learned that becoming a somebody came with a lot of flash light in the eyes. That was one reason why the “new brute on the list of youngest millionaires” was rarely seen without without his black aviators. They were like his mask that helped him see through the world and stopped the world from seeing through him. He had moved up on the corporate ladder faster than anyone else, using any and all means possible. His latest acquisition had created a lot of stir. No one knew how he had done it but he had made the owner of a chain of restaurants sell a very successful business to him. That and a very public confession of love and a proposal of marriage from a starlet had the media in a tizzy.
Pearl saw Zeke get out of the car and push his way through the crowd, from her cabin at the hospital. The voices from behind the cameras were speaking all at once. “can you tell us what you have decided about Ms. Smith’s proposal?” said one. “Zeke have you made up your mind about getting married to Daisy Smith?” said another. ” When do we expect an invite to the wedding?” said the third. Zeke did not bother answering any one of them. He just walked with his signature smile plastered on his face.
“I am here to see Dr. Pearl” he said to the girl behind the desk, taking his shades off.
She met his eyes and lost her voice. They were the color of honey, it sent a warm feeling drizzling through her. She barely managed to point in the direction he was supposed to go in. He smiled and walked away, leaving her managing an uneven breath.
Pearl wanted to see him and didn’t want to at the same time. It had been years since they had had a conversation, barring an exchange of a few texts.
He knocked at the door that had “Dr. Pearl Charles, Head of Neurosurgery” written on it. He was so proud of what she had grown to become, all by herself. He had offered to help her out, by getting some things done his way, but she had be adamant on doing only the right things.
“Come in” he heard her say
“Good afternoon, Dr. P! I am your three o clock” He said as he entered.
“Hi Zeke” she said standing up
He hugged her tightly, locking his arms around her. She took a second before giving in completely and melting into them.
“I missed you” He whispered into her ears.
She moved away abruptly and walked back to her chair. It had been a while since she had heard that voice, saying those words.
“How have you been?” she asked
“Haven’t you been reading the tabloids?” he smirked
“I have, that is why I am asking” she said sternly, avoiding eye contact
“look at me when you talk to me P” he said
She raised her eyes and looked at him. He couldn’t help but smile.
“tell me” she said
“She asked me to marry her” Zeke said softly
“I read” she replied
“I do not know what to say to her” he went on
She held his gaze but did not reply.
“What do you think I should?” he said
“I don’t know Zeke, its for you to decide, not me” she said looking into her phone
“would I be sitting here if it were that easy?” he said
“I don’t see the problem” she was now miffed
“The problem Dear doctor, is that I have been fighting to be who I am all my life, What’s the point of being who I am, if I can’t have the person who was worth all the fighting for” he said stubbornly
“From where I see it, the problem seems to be that you are winning the fight but losing your self” she finally looked back into his eyes.
They were earnest as they always were, staring at her as if they knew what they wanted. She missed the glint of innocence she was so used to seeing in them. She saw love, like she had always seen but chose to ignore it.
“I will never be able to love anyone else, you know that, don’t you?” he said, the first sign of frustration showing on his perfect face. “Come with me, I promise it will be worth it” he continued
“You are a dangerous man Zeke, cause you almost make me believe in the impossible” Pearl said. “You know I wont be a part of the world that you have created for yourself. You always knew this, and still chose it”
“I understand all what you have said, but what I fail to understand is that how can you fall out of love, just like that” he said
“I love you Zeke, but I love myself more” she replied staring right at his soul.
He got up and left.
The crowd that was waiting for him went crazy. The cameras went to work again, followed by the questions. “Zeke please tell us if you are marrying Daisy?”, “When is the d-day?” “when will you announce the wedding date?” He stopped walking, looked at the window where a pretty girl in a lab coat and blue jeans stood and looked at him.
“I cannot marry Daisy” he said firmly
” I love someone truly, madly and ridiculously, the only way I know how to love. She runs through my veins with blood, I do not think I will be able to love anyone like that ever again. She owns my heart, I am happy to be owned. So ladies and gentlemen I am taken” he said unabashedly and walked away.
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.