Story 34

He stepped out his house and into the darkness of the night. He put his hands into the pocket of his jacket and started walking fast. It was a cold night and there was hardly anyone on the street. The stray dogs had disappeared too, seeking comfort and warmth wherever possible. He saw a beggar sleeping on the pushcart, a dog snuggled close to him, both enveloped into a dirty torn blanket.

He hesitated for a moment, making up his mind whether to take off his jacket and put it over the beggar’s shivering body. He did not want to risk waking up the dog and be bitten.

He continued walking aimlessly and the cold silent night calmed him down. He decided to turn around to go back home and that’s when he saw her for the first time.
She stood at the balcony, a shawl wrapped around her. He froze where he stood. She was beautiful. He stood there in the darkness of the night, hidden from her view and continued watching her. A moment later he realized that she was crying. She wiped her tears occasionally but fresh tears appeared the moment she wiped the previous ones.

The desire to comfort her surged through his body and he stepped out of the dark into her field of vision. Right at the same moment, the door to the balcony opened and a man wearing only his sweatpants stepped on to the balcony. He watched as the man kissed her neck and wrapped his arms around her. The man then urged her to go inside with him and she turned around to go. She walked in and a moment later turned around to close the door, but before she closed it she looked straight at him, as if knowing where exactly he was as if to tell him that she was aware he had been watching her. Their eyes met and they both refused to look away; until the man with her placed his hand over her hand holding the door handle and pulled it close.

He stood there not able to move an inch, still mesmerized by the teary brown eyes. He waited, hoping that the balcony door would open again and she would step outside. He waited until every muscle in his body ached because of standing in the cold night and then he waited more. Finally, he turned around to go. He walked back home, unable to get the image of hers out of his mind. He wondered how her soft skin would feel against his lips.

He stepped inside his house and bolted the door. He walked to the bedroom and slid into the bed next to his sleeping wife – soon to be ex-wife. They had been secretly waiting for the other to file for divorce first, easy to blame the end of the marriage on the other. Finally, he could not take it any longer. He had told his lawyer to ready the divorce papers. If his wife knew about it she did not show.

He could not stop thinking about her; the stranger at the balcony who had a deep impact on his mind. He continued thinking about her even when his wife shifted in bed and moved closer to him and then he closed his eyes not wanting to face his wife and heed to her late night desire if she happened to wake up and demand.

He was tired of people telling him what to do and what not to do; he was tired of being lectured on what was right and what was wrong. He was tired of the constant nagging of his wife. She told him that he trusted people easily. Damn right he did, had he not been the one to trust people easily he would have not trusted his wife and she would have not been anywhere close to his life. Being the kind of person to speak what was going on in his mind, he had said it loud thus humiliating his wife in front of his so-called friends.

He was surrounded by many people yet he was always alone. The night he had seen her the first time, he had been alone yet not lonely. When she had looked into his eyes it seemed as if she had dived straight into his soul.

Each night he left the house and walked the silent streets to reach her apartment hoping that he would see her again, just a glimpse and each night he would return back home disappointed. He would slid into the bed and then climb out of it; walk to the bar and pour himself a drink.
It had been almost a week since he had seen her. He slid out of the bed and walked to the bar. He poured himself a drink as he thought about her. He could not get the thought out of his head that she was with someone and at the same time he clearly remembered that she had been sad. He finished his drink and poured another.

He thought about his life, his friends and his wife. How had everything come to be the way it was? He did not have the answer to it. If he could not say to his friends or his wife what he had in his mind, if he had to pretend to be someone else when he was around them, it made no sense being with them. Each day he had been moving further away from them all, sadly no one noticed.
How could they not see the darkness of depression surrounding him? How could they not notice his life slipping away each moment?

He poured himself another drink and gulped it down and poured another. He thought about her. Was it worth spending time to figure out if he could have her in his life? He knew she was not available but he also knew that she was not happy. Or maybe she was happy and the tears were the result of some temporary fight. She had not moved away when the man had kissed her neck. She had allowed him to wrap his arms around her. She belonged to him. But, she had also looked you in the eye and held her gaze, a little voice inside his head said. It did not mean anything, he convinced himself.

Why would anyone want to be with him, the darkness in him spoke! He felt it coming towards him; the monster that haunted him. He felt the chill run down his spine. His fingers around the glass numbed and then it happened. The darkness raised its head and gulped him, sucking him deeper and deeper into nothingness. He did not feel his fingers tightening around the glass, he did not feel the pain as the glass broke and shattered in his grip, and he did not feel the pain of the glass that cut into his palm. He did not feel the pain as someone who resembled him pulled the broken piece of the glass shard over his wrists. He did not feel the pain as blood oozed out of the wounds. The only thing that he felt was the suffocation as the darkness entered his body and tore at his flesh from inside out. And then, he collapsed on the floor.

He saw her face, she was looking down on him. It was so bright, too much light. He squinted to see her face clearly, he felt her hand on his forehead; it felt good. The light hurt, why was it so bright? He thought. He was dead, he was in heaven; had to be. She was an angel. His angel. He thought he heard some commotion. She was giving orders, asking people to do something. What was happening? He tried to figure out. But, he slipped back into the nothingness.

Welcome back, he heard a voice as he opened his eyes. He turned his head to see who had spoken. It was her – the woman at the balcony. She was wearing a white coat. Was she a doctor? Was he in a hospital? He realized after a moment that he was. He closed his eyes again. What had happened?
You slit your wrists, she said and he realized he had spoken out loud.
He felt his throat burn. He tried to speak but he could not. He tried to move but he could not. Had they tied him? He looked at his wrists, both bandaged halfway through the forearm, but nothing to indicate that he was tied.

Hi honey, he heard his wife’s voice as she made her way towards him. From the corner of his eye he saw her – the woman he wanted to be with, moving away from him.
His wife ran her fingers through his hair. He closed his eyes. He wanted her gone. He did not want his wife anywhere near him.

The woman was out of his field of vision but he knew she was around. He could hear her voice. There was so much commotion around. Lots of doctors, lots of nurses – doing some sort of dance; all moving haphazardly in different directions. He was in an Emergency Room, he realized. There were lots of injured people. He followed her voice across the room, one moment she was on his right side and the next moment she was to his left.
He felt his wife’s hand on his forehead; it did not feel good. He closed his eyes, willing her to go away. He did not feel the hand anymore, he opened his eyes and saw that his wife had started to move away from him. Had he spoken out loud again? He watched as she stepped back and into the crowd.

He did not want to be here. He wanted to go back to the time when he had proposed marriage to his wife years ago. He wanted to go back in time and change the past. He wanted to tell his wife – not his wife then that he was sorry but he could not marry her.
He did not want to be in the Emergency Room, he wanted to be with her, the woman whose voice he involuntarily followed across the room, he wanted to be with her not at the balcony but inside the warm bedroom. He would never do anything to upset her enough for her to stand out at the balcony crying. He wanted to be the man to kiss her neck.

I did not take you to be the kind of man who would want to end his life, he heard her voice and saw her standing at his bedside. I did not know you would be a doctor saving so many lives, he wanted to say. If that moment he was not the man who she had seen her standing at the balcony crying, not long ago, then even she was not the same woman. They were two different individuals, stuck in the body of someone else.

He felt warmth spread through his body as she held his hand in hers.
Nothing really happened but it seemed as if something did, a lot did. That moment, something changed. He changed and he felt her change, too. It seemed as if through her grip she transferred some energy into him, some sort of understanding, some kind of ability to look into the future – he saw himself lying in bed, still holding her hand and looking into her eyes and then he saw himself with her, lying in bed, his arm wrapped around her waist. Her soft hair spread over his chest and her heart beating over his.

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