March 4, 2007

She froze at the first sight of him in the bookstore aisle. He was walking towards her with that familiar lazy walk. She could hear the voice in her head screaming for her to turn and hide her body behind some shelf. But her eyes refused to leave him. She remained rooted to the spot as he slowly walked towards her turning the pages of the magazine he carried. He had not seen her yet. If only she could make her legs obey, she could avoid him. Avoid the long silence that would follow. Avoid that smoldering gaze that made her insides melt every time he looked at her. But she could not. As he looked up from his magazine, he halted, slowly exhaled and in his characteristically relaxed way of going about everything, simply walked up to her. But he knew that she had caught the infinitely small moment where he had breathed in sharply as he saw her and his eyes flicked with disbelief. She knew that he could sense the turmoil inside her and would spare her the need to talk.
The first feel of his soft hand on her elbow unfroze her. She shuddered and her car keys slipped from her hands. As he bent down to pick them up, she tried to smile but she could see that it wasn’t expected. As he gently steered her towards the cashier’s desk, it didn’t seem important for her to ask where they were headed. She could not even remember what she had come to the store for.
They both remembered vividly. The last time they had sat below the red and white umbrellas of the café. The sunlight had danced in his eyes that beautiful morning. He had never looked as handsome. He had smiled shyly as he had slowly extracted a small green box from his pocket. She remembered being extremely jumpy, wanting to know what was inside but trying to keep a cool face. He had known she was nervous. He had smiled, teased her about her about her curiosity and put the box back in his pocket saying it was for someone else. She had recovered quickly from the shock, stared hard at him for two minutes while he laughed and then walked around the table to his side to kiss him with a ferocity that he still remembered. He had then given her the ear-rings, two brilliantly crafted deep blue sapphires set in sparkling white gold.


The ear rings had a small thread looped through them – he asked her to break it only when she wore them the first time. She didn’t ask why. As she promised him she would, she remembered looking at him and wondering what she would do without him. Now she knew.
Now as they sat in silence, sipping on their coffee, both searched for something from that sunny morning in the others eyes. They wrapped the street noise and the busy morning café sounds around themselves sparing the other the need for conversation. As they stood up to say good bye, she rushed into him for a brief second and he held her tight. When their lips finally parted, they held the gaze for a long while. Then she walked away and never looked back, crossing the street and turning into the lot to where she had parked her car. Something inside her head told her to leave the street as soon as possible. As she neared her car, she put her hand inside her purse for the keys and realized she had not picked them up when she dropped them at the store. She remembered him picking them up and hoped that she could still reach him walking away from the café if she walked fast enough. She knew he would head off from the café in the direction opposite to the one she had taken.
As she rushed back towards the café, she slowed down a few metres away from the table where they had coffee. He was sitting there waiting for her. With the same calm, unruffled look that he always wore. As she walked towards him, she became increasingly aware of her body, of the way he looked at her with the hint of a half smile on his face, of knowing that he had known about the keys even before she had left. As she neared him she extended her hand to take the keys. He stood up, put his hand inside his pocket and extracted the two tiny little blue and white rings, he had discovered in his pocket as she had walked away from the café. The thread band unbroken.
As she looked at the rings, a solitary tear ran down her cheek and she slowly lowered her outstretched hand,while he broke open the thread.
And then as he moved closer to her, he knew that she had not worn ear-rings since that last sunny morning. Now as he looped them into her ears, she knew she would not be taking them off for a very long time. She knew that he knew too.
And it was then as she walked away for the second time, she knew why he had held on to the car keys. He had wanted her to come back, to break the thread that would set them free for the last time.


One comment

  1. Suitably impressed!! I love anything that deals with complicated relationships and I really like the way the earrings become so important metaphorically to the plot!Loved it!

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