Apologies for the really long delay.. Hope the post makes up for it..
She stayed that night. I need to figure things out, she explained to his parents. They had nodded sympathetically and graciously accommodated her in their house. Sometime between midnight and morning, she found her restless self resurfacing. She got up with a start and felt herself shiver a little. It wasn’t cold but she felt a draft which made her shudder. She wrapped a shawl around herself and tiptoed down to his room.
The door was slightly ajar, she pushed it open. It made a slow creaking noise which sounded incredibly loud in the dead of the night. She froze, half expecting his parents to come running. After a couple of minutes, she mustered her courage and went in. She stood close to the door, just watching him breathe. He seemed so.. So normal. While he slept, she could see him as she remembered him. She smiled a little as she saw the all too familiar expression fleet across his face, the slight crinkling of him nose and the brows coming together. How many times had she watched that expression, half asleep, lying in his arms.
She found herself moving towards him. He must have heard her because he woke up and unlike his earlier self, he looked up at her calmly.
“Are you awake?” She whispered as she inched in closer. He stared at her intently, wide awake now. In a child like gesture he cocked his head to a side and looked at her, confusion apparent on his face.
“Hushhh, relax, it’s just me.” She put up her hands as she moved closer.
The confusion was slowly turning into fear and he started to move his hands abruptly. She had to pacify him before he started screaming. She did the only thing she could think of. She hummed to him as she used to hum for her niece when she was an infant. His arms dropped to his sides and he closed his eyes. She wasn’t humming anything in particular, just some random piece of music she had heard on the television, but it seemed to be working. Somehow the music was soothing him or was it the sound of her voice?
She placed her hand on his forehead and gently moved her hands though his hair. Like a mother would do to a child. Soon, his breathing turned deeper and she knew he had fallen asleep. Sitting by his side, hearing his deep breathing, she didn’t realize when she had drifted off into the dream world.
When she got up, it was nice and bright but neither had he stirred nor had anyone bothered to disturb them. She rubbed her eyes gently, hoping it was all a bad dream, like she did always. But hope dissipated when she saw the form lying in front of her. She smiled as she saw his hand holding her finger in a child like gesture.
“Morning..” She whispered into his ear smiling softly.
He opened his eyes slowly, and a look of confusion came on his face. Confusion soon gave way to horror as he started screaming, looking straight at her.
She tried to pacify him, holding his hand, speaking softly to him but shook her off.
Within no time, his mom was besides him, holding him against her, rocking his head gently.
“He’s just going to take time to get used to you.” His mum tried to make her feel better.
“But he was fine yesterday!” She asked, her brows scrunched together in worry. She tried going closer to him but somehow, today, her presence was disturbing to him.
“Don’t worry, he has his good days and his bad days. Maybe you shouldn’t come in here today.” His mum offered.
“Maybe if I’m just around for a while, I’ll sit right over there.” She moved to the far corner of the room and watch him carefully.
He kept his eye on her, getting agitated by the minute. All attempts to calm him down were futile.
“Maybe you should just leave!” His mum finally said what had been on her mind all along.
She nodded softly. She didn’t want to make things difficult. He had started screaming now, making a hoarse, inhuman sound. She tried to walk slowly, but something in her wanted to escape. She ran the final few steps to the door and shut the door behind her, but she couldn’t shut out the screaming.
She leaned against the door in resignation.
After a while, someone tapped her on the shoulder. “Your cab is here ma’am”
She opened her eyes abruptly, stunned. What the heck was happening? As she tried to gauge her bearing, she realized she wasn’t at his place. Where was she?
She peered at the guy in front of her. Who was he? Ah yes, the porter. The porter at the airport. The airport in his city.
Reality hit her and she realized that she hadn’t even gone home. Or was it home anymore? If the dream was so nightmarish, how would reality be? Was she dreaming now? She pinched herself to make sure. Ouch! Definitely back in the real world.
“Ma’am, this way?” The porter indicated with his hand towards the exit.
With unsteady steps, she made her way outside. She hesitated as she opened the cab door. What if the reality was worse than the dream? Was she strong enough to handle it? What was she trying to achieve anyway. She had almost moved on! This was like taking a step back.
She felt herself move back involuntarily.
“If you’re not taking that cab, I will!” An irate passenger behind her, commented.
She gulped and looked down at her hands. Steady as a rock. Disappointment washed over over, as she knew what she was going to do. Maybe regret it for the rest of her life. But in that moment, she couldn’t see herself going back to him. As much as she loved him. As much as she would always love him. Some things were easier said than done and she was just realizing that saying goodbye was one of them.