Story 94

It had been a long tiring day. She reached her building and saw the out of order sign outside the elevator. She sighed and started to climb the stairs. She hated using the stairs. Not because she was tired right now, or not even because of the stress of climbing; she hated the stairs because the man on the 3rd floor gave her the creeps. Taking the stairs to reach her apartment on the 5th floor would mean she would have to cross his apartment on the way up and she knew he had seen her coming. He always saw her coming and tried his best to cross her path whenever and wherever he could. Even though he had not done anything specific for her to make an opinion of him, she disliked him because of how he looked. The first time she had seen him walking behind her, she had been scared to death. She had thought that he had been following her, only to realize later that he in fact stayed in her building. The scar on his face made him look dangerous. Few days later, when he had said hello to her on their way up in the elevator she had simply nodded her head and stepped out of the elevator on the 2nd floor just to get away from him.


Since then, they had crossed paths several times and she had started to believe that he did it on purpose. His actions were soon escalating to stalking. She assumed he would follow her to work or knock on her apartment door. So, she set emergency number on her speed-dial. She spoke to the security guard at her office not to let anyone inside to meet her. She often watched over her shoulder to see if she was being followed. She saw him once, few lanes away from her office and since then she started taking cab to office and back home. She added an extra lock to her door and every night before going to bed she made sure the door was locked.


As she started to climb the steps she could not stop thinking about having to face the man. She stopped for a few minutes before taking the flight of stairs to reach the 3rd floor. As she crossed his apartment she imagined him looking at her through the peep-hole. She started climbing the stairs hurriedly, skipping steps until she reached 5th floor. She opened the apartment door and as soon as she stepped in and turned to lock the door, she screamed.


---


He loved walking. He always walked back home from work. It was the only exercise he got the whole day. He always walked fast, not only as an exercise but also because he did not like the way people looked at him. He had a scar on his face that made his features seem dangerous to those who saw him for the first time, for e.g. this woman who had stepped out of the bus and had spotted him. He could see from her reaction that she had been scared of him, that and the way she looked over her shoulder at intervals to see him walking behind her. He was tempted to change route just to make her feel relaxed. He never cared about what others thought of him but he did not want this woman to be scared of him. He did not understand why. Then, he changed his mind and increased his speed to overtake her to reach his building. It was fate that the woman lived in the same building as his. They were in the elevator together and he could see that she was sweating. A drop of sweat rolled from the back of her ear and got soaked in the collar of her shirt. She jumped in fear when he reached out to switch on the fan in the elevator.


He stepped out of the elevator on the 3rd floor without turning to look back at her. He could not bear to see the fear on her face. He wanted to know which floor she lived on and how had he not crossed paths before? He wanted to know more about her but asking around about her might have seemed weird and people would have drawn conclusions. He did not want any controversy. All his life he had avoided it and he was not going to get into one now.


He did not want to stalk her but at the same time he could not stop himself from wanting to see her. The first few times it was a coincidence but then onwards he planned it. He said hello to her, he smiled at her; hoping for some kind of reaction from her apart from fear but he kept on failing miserably. It was obvious that she had formed an opinion of him just like others. People saw the scar on his face but sadly, no one bothered to know how he had gotten it. He wanted to corner this woman and then tell her the story behind the scar. He wanted this woman to have a good opinion of him. He liked her very much. He wanted to get to know her but apart from crossing paths in and out of the building or in the elevator he had not tried to reach out to her. He did not know where she worked, he did not want to know but he had seen her one day. He was not sure but he assumed she worked there. He was there to hand over the repaired car to one of the customers. He worked as a mechanic, his head always bent over the hood of the car so that people did not notice his scar most of the times. He liked working under the car, his face hidden from the world.


That day, when he had stepped out of the garage for the first time to deliver a car because the one who usually did this kind of stuff, someone who did not have a scar and was good in communication skills had taken a day off to get engaged to his beloved. He had seen her and, he had seen her reaction when she had seen him. That was it. That had ruined all his hopes. He knew that she thought he was stalking her and that he had followed her to the office, that moment he had finally realized that there was no chance for him, no way that woman would ever understand him, forget about understanding how he felt about her. It was weird, what he felt for her; he could not understand himself. He had never felt like this toward anyone. She had done nothing to make him think that she might ever like him, but he had hoped for it. He had hoped that one day she would sit next to him, talk to him and ask him about the scar. He had even imagined her running her hand over his scar. His hopes were shattered that day and from that day onwards he made sure to stay away from her. He stopped coming face to face with her. All the ‘chance’ meetings never happened again but he did continue watching her. On some days, he watched her as she climbed out of the bus, at other times he watched her from the balcony as she entered the building.


Past few days he had seen something else, he had noticed that someone was following her. He wanted to reach out, he wanted to warn her; he wanted to go and talk to the guy but he did nothing of the sort. Today, he had seen the guy entering the building few minutes before her. He knew he should have been bothered by it but he let it go. He was too hurt to care about her. He saw her approaching the building and he stepped away from the balcony. From behind the curtains, he saw her looking towards his apartment. He could not believe how good it felt.


He stood behind the main door, making up his mind to catch up with her as she reached his floor. The elevator was out of order and he knew she would be using the stairs. He looked through the peep-hole, he saw her hurriedly crossing his apartment and almost running towards the 4th floor and he knew he was wrong.


It hurt. He could not take it anymore. He decided to talk to her. He took a deep breath and opened the door. He stepped out and started climbing the stairs, he was on the mid-landing to 5th floor when he heard her scream. Then, he remembered the guy. He ran towards her apartment and saw that the door was closed. He waited before he kicked the door open. He knew she was in trouble, he was not going to let his ego run the show. He stepped inside the house and looked around. He found them in the bedroom. The man had pinned her down and was sitting on top of her. The man had a knife in his hand. He ran towards the man and pulled him away from her. The man waved the knife in front of him and he tried to grab the knife. They engaged in a close fight and the man stabbed him in the stomach and ran towards the living room, he followed the man, leaving a trail of blood on the floor. The man ran out the main door and he followed but he felt dizzy and collapsed, falling down a flight of stairs.


When he opened his eyes, he was in a hospital. She was sitting on a stool next to his bed, talking to a police officer. He was in and out of consciousness and he could not make out what she was saying but he heard the word ex-boyfriend before losing consciousness.


When he was discharged from the hospital few days later, she came to take him home. She did not make eye contact and he did not know whether it was because of guilt or whether she was still afraid to look at him. She helped him get into a cab and led him to his apartment. She turned around to leave as he settled on the couch. She stopped midway and whispered 'sorry' and then walked out of the door.


It was just the beginning, he knew. He had always believed that they had a story together. Maybe, she had started to figure it out, too.
She visited him every day, brought him food and made sure he ate his medicines. He did not speak a word with her when she was around, he was too afraid to speak. He did not want to ruin what was happening. He feared that he would say something to make her go away and then he would never forgive himself ever.


Even she hardly spoke. She had not made eye contact yet. One day, as he heard her approaching the living room, he pretended to be sleeping. She had just finished her work in the kitchen and was about to step out to go back home, he had been watching her work from the couch. As she stepped out of the kitchen, he closed his eyes. He felt her coming closer, he felt her sitting on the couch. He realized he was holding his breath. He could feel her eyes on him. Then, he felt her touch his scar. He opened his eyes and she froze. Her hand still on his scar, she stared into his eyes. She slowly moved her hand away from his face but maintained eye contact.
‘How did you get the scar?’ she asked him.
 Finally! He thought. Finally, his wishes were coming true.

Comments