She felt suffocated. Her heaves were getting heavier by the minute. She could imagine beads of sweat forming on her forehead. It’s the indecision that’s killing her now. She was moments away from making a life with someone, or breaking an almost perfect and happy relationship with that someone.
It was the morning after a very wonderful date. The hangover of a seemingly love filled night was at its peak. She still had that sparkle in her eyes, the same sparkle she thought she must have worn the night before when he was a breath away from her. In her eyes she still bore the battle scars of a failed attempt at a first kiss. She could not remember whose fault it was, but surely both of them held back when it was about to materialize. She was hesitant; he didn’t have a clue what was going on.
She looked herself in the mirror. There was a hint of uncertainty in her deep brown eyes. She wanted to ask herself if she actually and finally felt love for this guy, or was this simply an extension of a high school infatuation. She had to know.
She scoured her face in the mirror, looking for a sign she might be somebody different from who she knew she was. Perhaps a hint of loneliness was trying to surface, or something missing was making its absence felt. She failed; she was the same woman she grew up with. She was pretty, she knows it, and she was leaning a bit towards vanity. But that does not make for an excuse to want the company of this man. No, there was no loneliness. At times, she would go to places alone. But never was she lonely. She always managed to be happy. And no, there was nothing missing in her life. Yes she must have had a few relationships gone sour, and the one man that gave her the best gift she has now wasn’t man enough to be with her. But she considered every past experience a lesson to be learned, and not a hurt that should clutter in her closet. She had her life ahead of her. The face that’s staring at her through the mirror was the one face she was striving to keep a smile indelibly painted on. This thought did, and it was a smile of satisfaction.
She could breathe well now. The sparkle from last night was gone. In its place was the brilliance of determination. She had to let him know. She had to tell him this whole thing would not work.
Her phone rang. She picked it up and listened. The voice on the other line was incredibly familiar; she felt tingles down her spine. It was he. He was calling for the morning after. She listened. He spoke. His was simply all the pleasantries of good morning's, hi’s, and hello’s. Still he managed to make her knees weak, and a terrible urge to speak to him ensued inside her. She held back, for fear she might say the wrong words, and give him the wrong message. She wanted to say what she had just decided upon moments ago about them not working together. But her tongue was stopped by her intent on continuing to listen to his voice. And then he noticed.
With his “are you still there? what’s going on? are you alright?” she hanged up. She wanted a much better time for him to listen to what she had to say.
The seconds passed unhindered. Time cannot be stopped from doing what it does best – pass by. It is the only thing that survives by spending itself away, and no matter what happens, time will continue to pass. This too, she decided, must pass. So she dialed his number. When he said his hello, her first words were the four most dreaded and fateful words in the English language, “we have to talk.”
And she told him. She unleashed her thoughts. She made sure he knew she wanted this to stop, before it gets any worse. Every word that transcended from her thoughts through her tongue hit its mark on him. And she felt he understood everything. His silence was her confirmation.
At last she was done. The conversation seemed to last an eternity. Goodbyes were always the hardest times, and the longest. She was not ending their relationship because she didn’t want him. It was because she was afraid she might soon. Deeply. Inescapably. Eventually. She could not afford that, not just yet.
Just before she felt triumph over herself for accomplishing what she set out to do, he had his final words to her. After a long pause that marked several ticks in time, he spoke. And the sound that followed was the indifference of the telephone line being cut. He had hung up. Still holding her phone against her left ear, she could hear his words echoing in the abyss he had created in her mind.
“Don’t ever let yourself be miserable. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’ll be short-changed. Coz you’re one woman worth losing life and limb for.” She knew this meant something very complex, and her self-beliefs were shaken again. These words came from someone she almost fell in love with, and who doesn’t have the slightest clue what was going on.
The mirror showed another face, one that was breathing heavily. The indecision has brought the suffocation back.