Relationships were always hard for me. I told this to myself to cushion the pain of my now fourth failed relationship in less than two months. I lay in my steel framed king size bed all alone after a horrible last night unready to move anywhere. I was just about to go back to sleep that my phone rang. I took it out of my pocket and answered it.
It was Jacob.
‘Where the hell are you?’
‘Was I supposed to be somewhere?’ I enquired.
‘You’re late for your meeting and we can’t start without you.’
‘I’ll be there in 15.’ I said.
Cursing myself for forgetting about such an important meeting, I got up and went straight to the bathroom picking up my file for a quick brush up.
After spending 15 minutes going through what’s needed and not really paying attention to anything else, I grabbed the keys to my porsche and headed for work.
The morning was quite sunny for mid December and as I got into my car I looked back at my apartment which sat quite comfortably, bathing in the sun.
I made my way out of the driveway and was rewarded instantly with traffic.
I was already late and this traffic made it harder for me. I have always had a problem presenting presentations. No matter how hard I had prepared, my mouth would always close up. Being late put me in a disadvantage and I knew if I needed to land this client for my company, today was D-day.
Anxiety aside, I focused on the things that could go well. Jacob had promised me a promotion if this went well. After all, Chairman’s was a big company to land.
‘Move!’ I heard someone shout at me and I got back to reality to find a clear road up ahead and zoomed past.
Something on the dashboard rang, I looked and………
There were flowers everywhere. The smell made me nauseous.
‘Glad that you’re awake. You really had us worried there.’
It was times like this when I felt I was the luckiest person. Jacob even though my boss cared for his employees like his friends. I was sure to have got my employment termination letter the first thing when I woke up if I was working for someone else.
‘My life s##ks, man.’ I said to Jacob.
That’s all I could remember to have said for another week.
I’ve always been much of a clean freak. Staying in a hospital for a week in the same bed under the same sheets gave a rising panic attack. When I woke up this time there was no one around my bed. I felt relieved that no one was. I could try remembering what happened that day but that too soon failed as my eyes fell on the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I had seen many beautiful things. Her beauty wasn’t of the obvious sort. She had a relatively round face and she looked heavier than she seemed. Her curves seemed perfect corner to corner. But most of it, it was her eyes that made me not take my eyes off her. There was something in them, an aura even while she lay her eyes on a hardbound cover whose cover I didn’t recognise.
She was in a bed four rows to my left and she had a bandage tied up from her ankle right up to her knees. Her leg was attached to a small pole at the foot of her bed.
She too like me seemed to have been in an accident.
She didn’t once look at me in the few minutes that I was staring at her. A man, in his fifties was constantly looking at me and then her and when I looked at him, he smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I smiled for reasons unknown to me but it was a welcome smile. It had been a few weeks.
Desperate to get to know anything about her I tried to get out of my bed but couldn’t. Only then did I realize, my left leg too was tied to the foot of my bed.
I guess this is where they keep the broken legs, I sneered and got back to sleep.
The next morning when I woke up, I asked the doctor where I was and why I wasn’t able to remember anything about the leading upto the accident and everything since.
‘you were in a coma for two whole weeks.’ came the reply from the doctor who looked pale from all the over work he was made to do.
I can help look after that lovely lady over there, I thought and found myself grinning.
Just how much longer will I be here, I groaned. I was frustrated. Frustrated that I had missed my chance for an audition at the National Ballet theatre. An opportunity that wasn’t easily available to everyone. I had been slogging at my art for so long.
The part I hated most was I didn’t get a chance to fight. The auditions were held only once a year and I couldn’t bring myself to wait another. Why did I ever try an Uber!, I groaned again.
The hospital was another thing I found myself complaining about. It had different sections for different types of injuries and I found it odd that I was the only woman in my section. Rest of them were old men who couldn’t tell their hands from their legs. There was a guy who was about my age who was particularly good looking. But then again, in here I could find anybody attractive. I noticed he had the same leg fractured as mine.
‘Was he in a car accident too?’ I asked the nurse the next day. ‘And how much longer do I have to be here? Can I get a wheel chair and leave?’
‘Yes and no.’ she said.
‘He was lucky to survive. Door wouldn’t open during the rescue.’ the nurse added.
I looked at him. He seemed peaceful but there was a hint of regret in his eyes too. A feeling a disappointment.
I got my you-can-go-now nod a week later and I gladly collected my stuff to head home. On my way out I noticed that he too was gone. I didn’t know when I missed him. Hoping he would be at the bill desk I jogged my way there only to find it completely devoid of people except for the receptionist who was too busy managing bills to notice anything.
He was gone. I sighed.
I stepped out of the hospital and ordered a Uber hoping that atleast this time the ride wouldn’t lead me back here.
The sun was shining brightly here in Santa Barbara. It was one of the best cities in the US with a population of roughly 90,000. The small population made you feel closer to the people around you…
I told my Uber driver to go around Kellogg Avenue to see the atmosphere around the theatre. It was all quiet. There was a hot dog stand in front of it and the seller seemed as bored as me. What I would have given for an opportunity like that. I got home and my depression led me straight to bed. My depression seemed strange to me. All I wanted to do was sleep yet when I did go to bed I couldn’t fall asleep.
I Opened my laptop to find an IM from Andrea asking me why I didn’t make it to the audition. She had no idea about my accident. I told her. She had been my best friend since high school and we had drifted apart when she went for management studies while I studied literature.
She gave an instant ‘OMG!! are you alright??!’
‘Yeah.’ I said.
‘Who got in?’
‘You won’t believe it. Beth did. She didn’t have you to compete against though.’ Andrea said. This was another reason I was dying to get selected for the ballet team. They selected only one person from each town and having been from such a small town I had thought I had a pretty good chance of getting through.
‘It isn’t in my fate, I guess.’ I sent back.
She sent an it’s okay something else will come up, I know a few people in the hiring team. I got tired of all the attention she was giving me and closed my laptop.
I was used to this kind of attention. It seemed strange to me. I had seen my friends in school who were the only child of their parents who got all the love and attention in the world. Maybe they had a bit too much time to spare and lots of money to while around with their children. My dad never got that sort of time. He would lose a day’s earnings if he played with me. He always said. That never got my attention. My attention was spurned when he said he would have to do two days’ job in one.
My dad made furniture for people here In Saint Barbara. He was particularly proud that he had once sold a dresser to Tim Robbins. The only person from here to ever have a part in a Hollywood movie.
I had always been someone who was older than her age, mentally. I never cried when I had no one to play with when little. I never cried when my only single toy broke. I had a strong feeling of gratitude I had not seen much adults have.
Well, it would have been great if gratitude won you some luck, wouldn’t it?
A week later I was discharged and I headed home. I had lost a potential client. Jacob was trying very hard to make them understand the reason I didn’t make it to the meeting. Another week of nagging and they agreed to meet me in New York to make my presentation and win them over. Jacob gave me the good news over the phone.
I had ample time to review the presentation as the meeting wasn’t for another month.
A month later I was prepared. Hopeful of that promotion. I carefully drove myself this time to the only domestic airport here for a 10 am flight to New York.
My hotel was in Layette Avenue in Upper Manhattan. It was the first time I was travelling to such a huge city and was scared about the stories of robbery, murder and drugs that I had heard. Every step I took was a careful one. The hotel was one of the many buildings which once served a different purpose a long time ago. In my case, before people were charged insane amounts to stay in style, the building served as a courtroom for attorneys.
I was on a tight schedule but I wanted to explore the city. My meeting wasn’t for another two hours. I figured that I would just go for a walk nearby. So after a quick wash up in my room I headed out. I picked the least busiest looking road and continued.
I chose the ally to the right of the hotel which seemed more quiet. I passed two hot dog vans and was really impressed by the Chinese market that sold everything; Chinese food; Chinese ornaments; Gadgets; Books; All the way from the airport to the hotel I saw people who were in a rush. Too busy to notice anything else but themselves but I felt that this part of the city was less rushing and more inviting. Everything has it’s pros and cons. Even the best city in the world did. I noticed the time and went back to my room.
The meeting was a huge success. I managed to land the company for a five year deal. My company would benefit a lot from this. That was for sure.
On my last day in New York after having failed to generate any sort of energy to do any sightseeing because of the crowd around which I feel has over whelmed me a lot, I decided to just spend some time in a cafe with some coffee and a book. I called for a taxi and went to cafe Beau which was a decent coffee place in the middle of the city. It was early in the evening so it was quite quiet.
I ordered a cappuccino and started reading my book. I don’t know but for some reason all the restaurants and bars that I had been to in New York were dimly lit. It was difficult to get any reading done in that low light so I closed it and began to think of what my goals for the near future should be. I thought about how staying in a relationship was proving to be difficult and why I should only concentrate on my career right now and that maybe there was no girl right enough for me.
As I thought about this, I rolled my eyes at myself and I caught myself looking at something two tables next to me. It was something familiar.
She was reading a book, sitting alone. I recognised that style of holding a book. There are certain traits every person does which seem unusual but is kind of like their identity.
The smell of anesthetics filled my brain. This month had been very frustrating with the break up and the accident. My life had gone into total chaos. This was a rare familiarity for me. It was welcoming. I tried to get a good view of my target but couldn’t. Maybe it wasn’t what I was thinking. With some despair, I paid for my coffee and headed out. I was gonna pull my shit together once I was home. Once I reached outside I looked back to the table two tables in front of me. The girl was still reading. How she was reading in that light, I had no idea. She looked up when the waiter came near her and I knew then that I wasn’t wrong.
It was her.
I recognised the round face, those curves and those deep eyes filled with mystery.
I found myself smiling at her sight, yet again…
I am so freaked out right now. I was exclaiming to Beth over the phone.
I was laying on my bed in my hotel room in New York. Beth wasn’t joking when she had told me that she had connections with the casting agency. She managed to get me an exclusive audition for the ballet here in New York.
‘Can’t you use your connections and just have me selected. That will be so much more easier.’ I said.
‘That’s not the way it works.’ she said, ‘and don’t worry, you’re gonna do great.
‘But I am going to be the only one auditioning there with I don’t know how many people watching. I hope everyone there is blind.’
After spending the whole night tossing and turning on what was without a doubt the most comfortable bed I had ever lay on, I got up and got dressed hoping the day wouldn’t be a total disaster. The audition was in New York’s premier dance theatre.
When I got there I was greeted by 16 judges who I thought had no other job to do this early in the morning. I was introduced to their dancers who would be joining me to help with my routine. I thought about the reward at the end of the day. I got into my stride quickly gliding my way through stage and doing all my moves effortlessly. A moment ago I swore I had worms crawling through my head telling me how much this was going to suck. There is something about doing something you love. You get into a tune that makes everything around you vanish.
After 15 minutes I was told to stop and go home and wait for the results. Another thing to be worried about.
The sun was already setting when I came out of the theatre and I moved around to explore the city. I hadn’t done any sightseeing as I was there only for a day. I remembered I had a book in backpack and started looking for a cafe to read me book. I was looking forward the calmness it would bring. I found a cafe Beau which I found to be unusually dark and quiet. Maybe it’s a couple’s place. I wondered.
I was proved right when I entered as all I could see were couples showing PDA. I found a decent place away from people calling each other different food items.
I opened my Dan Brown and sat down ordering absolutely nothing.
Half an hour of reading later, unable to concentrate further I picked up my phone and started playing on it. A man with distinctive features walked in and took a table behind me. It was the same man from the hospital for whom I had run my way to the reception for a second glimpse. I got the second glimpse now.
Sitting in the dark made It harder to get a good look at him. He was tall and lean with broad shoulders. He wasn’t the best built but was very attractive nonetheless. I continued to read but the memory of the hospital with both our legs bandaged came rushing in.
I found it surprising when I remembered that I wanted to see him again at the hospital and he was here in this unknown city at which I was only for a day. Maybe he’s from here and had an accident in Santa Barbara I thought. I was in a dilemma as to whether it would be better to approach him but I had no clue what so ever if he had even seen me in the hospital. He surely would have. I was the only girl there. He would have. I was just about to go up and talk to him when I saw that he was getting ready to leave. I turned my attention back to my book and saw him walk past me.
I missed my chance.
Unaware if I would ever see him again I cursed myself at all the time I took trying to decide.
© 2016 S Nitin