Story 61



She watched him from across the street. He was sitting on a bench at the park, the same bench he sat on every day. It felt weird to watch him like that, felt as if she was stalking him. Well, she was sort of stalking him; for no explainable reasons. 


Even before he got up she knew he would get up and walk a few steps towards the food truck and ask for two hamburgers. Then, he would check his watch and look around – that’s when she was supposed to hide behind the tree to avoid being caught watching him. She had to count ten and then peek out again and after another ten a woman would walk up to the man and kiss him on the cheek. She watched it happen every day yet she could never get used to it. Each time she watched the woman approaching him and kissing him on the cheek she felt a weird heaviness in her chest. She’d then hide behind the tree and resting head on the trunk she would close her eyes and take a deep breath before looking again. 


She turned to look and like always, the couple walked away together and she walked in opposite direction. Words of a promise made long ago echoing in her ears. A promise of togetherness. A promise of forever. 


---

“Stop it” she tried to say the words but she could not because he was tickling her and she was laughing uncontrollably. He stopped after a while and she relaxed on the bed and took a deep breath. He was still watching her, sitting on the bed, kneeling next to her. She reached out to take his hand and pulled him closer to her. He lied in bed next to her. 
“I love you” she said. “I love you, too” he said without looking at her. She turned to her side to face him “Look at me” she said and he turned to face her. As expected there was a worried look on his face. 


She kissed his forehead and he smiled. “I love you” she repeated. “I love you, too” he said looking into her eyes. The line of worry gone from the space between his eyebrows. She ran her fingers through his hair and he kissed her. His soft lips on hers felt good, he in her arms felt good. Life was good. She fell asleep in his arms.
When she woke up the next morning, she realized he was already gone.


---


She still remembered the night he had walked out of her house. They had a fight. She wanted more from the relationship than what he had to offer. She was tired of living the life he had chosen for her. He told her it was the life she had chosen for herself. He said she knew what she was getting into, she knew that he would not be able to offer more. He was right. She knew he was right but it felt wrong; everything felt wrong. It was not supposed to be like this – it was not supposed to hurt so much. She was not supposed to be stalking him and watching his wife kiss him in public.
She was supposed to be in his arms; she was supposed to be making love to him. He was supposed to be with her, kissing her, caressing her and telling her that she meant the world to him.


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She walked without really knowing where she was going. She had a job she was not interested in anymore. She had a house she was not interested living in any more. She wandered around the streets until she could walk no more and then she settled down at the side of the road. People moved around her; coming from somewhere or going somewhere – busy, busy, busy; no one had the time to even glance at her. She had just rested her head on her knees when from the corner of her eyes she could see someone standing in front of her; she looked up and saw that the man had extended his hand towards her; he was trying to give her money. She was too shocked to speak and continued staring at him. He could see that she was offended and realized his mistake; he whispered sorry and moved on. That’s what it had come to. That’s what his love had done to her. Wandering the streets, sitting on the side of the road – she looked like a beggar. She even felt like one – she felt like a beggar begging for his attention, for his love. No more, she made up her mind and got up. No more, she said aloud and walked away.


---


It had been months since she had seen him last. She had stopped stalking him since the day when someone had mistaken her to be a beggar. She had turned her life around. She felt free, the suffocation and the pain of lost love was gone now, for good. She changed the lock of her apartment since he had the second key. She disconnected her mobile phone to save herself from the temptation to call him or the trouble of making a decision whether to attend his call or not. 
She changed her job, not because he knew where she worked; she changed her job because she did not like the previous one. 
She had to hit the bottom to realize that she was ruining her life for the man who considered her nothing more than a second option. 


It took humiliation at the hands of a stranger for her to finally accept that she was with the wrong man, a selfish man who used her for his pleasure; turned her into nothing more than a prostitute. He never waited after the sex. Even before she could get dressed, he would be out of the door. She had tried stopping him a few times; requested him to get into bed with her and hold her close to him. He tried, whenever he could. He held her, whispered loving words in her ears until she fell asleep and then he sneaked out.
She never got to have breakfast with him, not even a morning cup of coffee. The nights belonged to her but the days belonged to his wife.


She looked out of her office window and thought of the man who had unknowingly set her free. She could hug the man or even kiss him for humiliating her the way he did. She saw him on the street down below and almost jumped out of her chair. She walked closer to the window and looked; yes, it was definitely him. She wondered what his life was like – where he lived, what he did for living, was he married or single? She shook her head and sat back on her chair. It was time to work. But, she could not; not after seeing the man step out of the elevator and walk towards her office. He stopped abruptly as if he had run into an invisible wall. He stared at her, he had recognized her; then he moved slowly towards her office with a smile on his face and it was only then she realized that she had been holding her breath. 

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