He sat quietly scribbling on a piece of paper. Two open beer bottles lay right next to him. The night hid his face well, it hid his tears better. He scribbled on for a while aided by dim streetlight that barely sufficed. When he was done he paused for a moment and read what he had written. This was the outlet for his sorrow. This was everything he had left. He carefully rolled up the paper he had written on and dropped it into the empty bottle he had dried. He took out a cork from his pocket and pressed it into the bottles mouth. He kept it aside and turned his attention to his smartphone, he opened up the gallery and browsed through the pictures until he reached her. She was smiling, happy and beautiful. He smiled at her through his tears. For a while now, he had only been able to see her smiling and happy in the photographs. They had somehow grown apart almost as fast as they had got together. He let his thoughts travel back down memory lane back to the day when he first saw her.
It was his first day on the job. Salesperson at a retail outlet. He was proud of himself as he donned the company t-shirt and made his way to the front desk. He was assigned by the manager to check the inventory in the store room with the new girl who had just joined with him. He had noticed her on the day of her interview itself.
She was gorgeous and confident but kinda had this look that said she was hiding something bad. They hadn’t spoken yet and he made use of the opportunity at hand to introduced himself. She looked up at him half smiling and returned a ‘hello’ along with her name. There was a momentary pause as they worked but slowly they started talking to each other, random talk about college and family and what not. Days went on to weeks and they had grown closer, as good friends as can be.
He looked over at her as he had his lunch, she sat in a corner staring blankly out the window. This had been a ritual for her from day one, she never ate. She had refused to say why and had turned down food others had offered her. He had tried a couple times as well, but then decided to let her be when she asked that she be left alone.
As he watched her something came over him and he made his way over to her with his tiffin in hand. He sat beside her and continued munching on the sandwiches his mother had made for him. He opened up a conversation with her, she seemed uninterested as usual, but he kept speaking. He told her about a relationship he had been in, how the girl just said ‘I’m sorry’ one fine day and left, he told her about he had travelled since and how the people who had loved him helped him get over it.
She looked at him blankly for a moment before looking back out the window. He had almost given up and was about to get up when she started speaking. Her eyes got wet as she told him about her boyfriend who she had been with since school and how their relationship had fallen apart. She didn’t delve into the why and he didn’t want to pry. She kept speaking for a while, absentmindedly picking up one of his sandwiches. As the lunch break neared an end, she looked better after talking about it. He had been supportive all the while, assuring her that things would be okay, that she would be okay. As he walked away he turned back to her and called out,” heyy! You know what’s special about today?” ” What?”, she called back. “You had lunch today sweetheart!”
She smiled at him, a little embarrassed.
Things went on like that for a while. She shared his lunch while they talked about stuff. They got closer until one day he found her sitting there again, staring out the window, the same blank expression on her face. He went there and sat next to her and his hand on her shoulder and asked,” are you okay?”
She looked at him and after a moment said,” let’s get out of here please.”
That’s exactly what they did. They asked for a half day leave and left on his motorcycle. They just kept going until she pointed to a signboard that pointed to a beach.
As they sat on the sand she rested her head on his shoulder. He slowly put his arm around her and built up the courage to tell her how he felt about her. As he did she looked at him and smiled, there was no surprise on her face as she went back to resting her head back on his shoulder. For a moment he was tensed, she didn’t reply, maybe he had overstepped, he was about to start apologising when she intertwined her fingers with his.
From then it was a montage of every romantic movie ever. They had fallen in love and the whole world seemed to be such a beautiful place. Everything seemed perfect.
A passing truck woke him from his memories and he fumbled around with his smartphone. He typed a note on it that said:
Too much in debt, can’t handle it. I’m sorry.
He carefully placed the phone next to the empty beer bottle and looked at his feet dangling beneath him. The water looked peaceful all the way down from his seat on the bridge. He carefully picked up the bottle with the message inside and thought of the past two weeks when the both of them had started acting so strange and cold to each other. They had reached a point of not talking when she had sent him a text that said:
I’m sorry but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t handle you being so emotionally dependent on me. I can’t handle the responsibility. I am suffocating. I’m sorry.
He had tried to mend things with apologies and promises of being better but nothing worked, the love of his life seemed to find no excitement anymore. He had given up when he found out that she had blocked his calls.
“This is the answer to the question of life” he laughed out to the cold night air as he dropped his message into a bottle, corked it, and threw into the watery depths below. He had been sitting here to work up the courage to follow it down and he did have it now.
Many Years later
She sat with her colleagues laughing at a joke. The office had arranged a new party in Goa, they deserved it too. It had been fun. New Year’s Eve. Goa. They had planned to attend one of the famous New Year’s Eve parties but something went wrong with the tickets and they decided to spend the evening at a shack near the sea. The plan was to drown themselves in alcohol and seafood.
On her way back from the washroom she noticed something peculiar on the wall. It was covered in photos of people happily enjoying their time at the shack except for a few pieces of paper pinned right in the centre. Intrigued she approached it and saw a note left by that read:
If you are the woman mentioned in this letter, feel free to take it with you.
She lifted the note and took a look at the letter. She gasped in surprise. She would recognise that handwriting anywhere. It was his! She checked the signature at the bottom just to be sure and it matched. She quietly slipped it into her purse and walked back to her hotel room telling her colleagues she wasn’t feeling too good. She looked the part too. She needed to read it and she needed peace and quiet to do so. As soon as she reached her room, she switched on the table lamp and dropped on the bed. She carefully took the letter from her purse and paused for a moment before turning her attention to it; it read:
To my dearest,
I don’t know what to write my darling. I had hoped to make things better but I guess it was too late. I know you will never read this but then I had to try. I hope they find me and that my body isn’t lost to sea. Ive left a note blaming the debts so that no one will point a finger at you. But knowing you’ll never read this, my finger is pointed at you.
You came into my life when I thought I would never find someone to care about again. It took me ages to brush away the hurt as easily as I did so in front of you. When you came into my life, it was like a small speck of light illuminating a vast darkness. I fell for you, I tried not to, I didn’t want to, but i did. You came with your own darkness and I believe I played no small part in helping you overcome it.
You told me that you didn’t feel the same. You told me it was suffocating you. The little ring in my pocket seemed to burn my skin when I heard these words. I didn’t feel the same way as when we started too. I wanted to ask you to marry me and start a family with me.
We’ve helped each other grow. We’ve fought. We’ve laughed and fooled around. Whatever came between us, the love we had always helped us get back to each other. Until now.
When you told me you couldn’t handle me being emotionally dependant on you, I saw in your eyes that you’d forgotten all the little things that mattered to us and all the good times we shared. You just saw responsibility and you decided to run.
Sitting here on the edge of my life I wish you would call me and say it was a silly mistake. I know I can survive this, but I don’t want to. I don’t want a life without you. I don’t blame you for this decision I’ve taken but I do blame you for going back on the decision you took.
I’ve treated you as a part of me, an extension of my life from the moment our hands first intertwined and I hoped you’d feel the same way. You didn’t. You felt bored with the person I was. The excitement died. I realise that being a person who supported you and wanted you to live your life ended up boring you. I do remember how badly you clung to the relationship you had before. How badly you were hurt.
I hope you live your life and find someone who keeps your interest and keeps you happy. I will always love you wherever I am.
Once your forever-ever-after…
She left by the very next flight itself. She couldn’t take it . She needed to be around family, she needed to be home. Her car was parked at the airport and she told her half awake and completely surprised husband that she missed him and the kids. She turned away from him as she dropped into bed to hide her tears.
Her husband woke up early the next day. She was still in bed. On his way to make coffee he found the edge of a sheet of paper sticking out of her bag. He opened the bag and took out the sheets only wanting to straighten them out. He was at a loss for words when he saw what it was.
He had last seen it when he had dropped it into a beer bottle and that he corked just before dropping it into the river, just moments before a call saying it was just a silly mistake stopped him from following it into the watery depths.