Story 67

She lay in bed, exhausted. She was tired after what she had just gone through. Yes, it was exhausting but she was happy. She smiled and looked around. The room was clean. Climbing up and down the ladder had given her back pain, but it was worth. All the cobwebs gotten rid of. She closed her eyes and thought about him. He had called her the previous night and told her that he was coming home tonight. She fell asleep.
She woke up with a jolt and saw the time, she had slept for almost two hours. Climbing out of the bed she straightened the bed-sheet and smiled again.

She took her purse and walked out of the flat. She had planned something special for him. She walked into Archies Gallery and bought Wind-chimes and a greeting card for him. She then went to the florist and bought flowers, lots of red roses. She walked to the local Crafts shop and bought red ribbons. She returned to the flat and set to work. She stuck red roses on the walls of the bedroom with the help of cello-tape, climbed on the bed again and tried to reach the fan. She sighed. She got down and went to the living room and got a stool. She finished tying ribbons to the fan and was about to climb down but she slipped and fell on bed, her head almost hitting the headrest of the bed. She remembered how he had once held her in his arms when she had slipped and fell while cleaning the cobwebs. She sighed and got up and stuck the other end of the red ribbons around the bed with cello-tape. She then scattered the red rose petals on the bed-sheet, of course after straightening it first. She wanted it to look unused when he entered the bedroom. She blushed.

It was four years ago that they had met for the first time. She still remembered the day:

She was in kitchen kneading the dough when the doorbell rang. She wiped her hands clean and opened the door and he stared at her.
“There’s dough in your hair” he had said. No hi, no introduction. She pulled out the napkin she had tucked in at the waist in her Saree and got rid of the dough.
“Who are you?” she questioned, frustrated on being disturbed and being pointed out about how untidy she looked.

He introduced himself and mentioned that he had seen an ad and he pulled out a newspaper from the back pocket of his jeans and she looked. She could not believe she looked at his behind as he took out the paper; he followed her gaze and cleared his throat. He showed the paper to her. She could not stop herself from smiling at the thought about how he had managed to fold the entire sheet of newspaper and make it fit in the back pocket of his jeans.

“Excuse me!” he exclaimed. She looked at his face, embarrassed to be caught (yet again) staring at his behind. “This is the wrong address.” She said and handed over the newspaper back to him. It’s the flat opposite to this one.
“Oh, I am sorry” saying so he turned around and she laughed out loud. He turned to look at her, wondering what was so funny. She could not stop herself from looking at the bulge of the wallet he had kept in the back pocket. She stopped laughing and closed the door. 
She never understood why guys kept their wallets in the back pockets.

“So that girls can look at it.” He had teased her. This was after they had become friends. A few days after their first meeting he shifted to the flat opposite to hers. He had seen the ad for a paying guest put up by her neighbour. A widower in his mid-fifties. He needed the company, she had thought then. She needed his company, she realised later. They became good friends and she fell in love with him. He moved out of the apartment two years later and flew abroad for his job. They kept in touch through emails. She could never tell him how she felt about him. And tonight, she was going to meet him after two years. The neighbour had died months after he left and the apartment keys were handed to her as per the neighbour’s wish, who had left the flat in her name. She was standing in the neighbour’s flat, getting it ready for her love who was coming back.

She looked around for the last time and when she was sure everything was just the way she wanted it to be, she walked out of the apartment. Before walking back to hers, she kept the keys to his apartments under the carpet for him to find. Entering her apartment, she walked straight to the bedroom and sat at the desk, staring at the email she had left open on the computer screen. She read the email he had sent her couple of months ago telling her that he is getting married. She closed the email and his smiling face stared back at her. It was her favourite wallpaper, they were together in it, his arm around her shoulder. Both smiling. She shut down the computer. She picked up her mobile and sent him an iMessage informing him about where to find the keys. 

He was coming back with his wife. Though it was not exactly his first night, it was his first night in the flat and she wanted it to be special for them. She smiled. She was happy for him. Yet, there was a part of her that felt betrayed and lonely. She had never told him how she felt about him and he had never said that he loved her; she had taken their relationship for granted. If asked, she knew she would not be able to describe her state of mind to anyone. Partly happy and partly sad, she was a mess. She was glad she had hidden the keys under the carpet for him to find and unlock his apartment. She was not yet prepared to face him. She had to make love to his memories for one last time before coming face to face with his wife and him. She slid in her bed and pulled up the covers; she thought about him, like she always did, as her hand moved south.

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