The day life took a beautiful turn for Stephanie and Jack
A month full of work, work and work left Stephanie exhausted. She had been working even on Saturdays, and with such long days she end up eating ordered meal, and going to bed that left her studio apartment a mess. Her Sundays went in cleaning, washing, dusting and that made her more weary. She hadn’t hanged out for a whole month and she was craving to put on her shorts and tank top, put on her slip ons and take a long walk towards the beach. And when the day came when her final deals were handled she left the office right away. It was 5 in the evening when she reached home. She took quick shower , put on her most comfortable jeans shorts, her favourite yellow colored “I love my life” tank top, her favourite pair of red colored slip ons with white sole. She pulled her cherry blond hair in a ponytail, switched off her cell phone and left it on the coffee table, put on her iPod, played her favourite rock number ‘Do me a favor’ by Stone Sour, locked the door of her apartment and she was a free bird. She inhaled deep refreshing evening air and felt light, as if the burden of work was sliding down her shoulders. She had worked hard and it was her time now, and she was a person who enjoyed her own company the most. So she didn’t want to meet any of her friends but be with herself, walk, lay on the beach sand, see the sun going down, feel the wind in her hair and uplift her mood.
She reached the beach at the right time, the sun was about to set and there was nothing else she wanted but to see the deep natural colors in the sky. She didn’t realise that she was inhaling long deep breathes as if she was deprived of air. She heard a voice “Spare some air for others” and her breath stuck in her nostrils. She heard a giggling sound before she turned to her left to see a young man with copper colored silky hair that was moving rhythmically on his forehead with the strong blows of wind. He was some 6 feet tall, had perfectly squared jaw, tanned complexion, green eyes, straight nose and had thin lips with a lop-sided smile. He did seem familiar but she couldn’t guess who. She gave him a squint-eyed look because though he was a treat to her eyes, the last thing she needed was a stranger getting in any kind of conversation with her, not even a conversation asking an address. She turned her face towards the sky and made it clear to him that she was not interested. She was staring at the sun because she didn’t want to look to her left, but instead he said “Sun will not set if you keep staring at him” and now she felt irritated.
She turned to find him grinning at her, and she asked “What is your problem? Don’t you see that I am not interested?”
and he said “It would be a pleasure pulling your interest towards me” and he grinned again showing his perfect squared white teeth as if he is doing some dental commercial.
She just ignored what he said and turned her face towards the sun and darn it! the sun is no more in the sky and she got a little more upset with this stranger. And she pinched her lips, squinted her eyes and gave him a tough look, but instead of saying anything she just walked off. She kept walking because her good lonesome time was being crushed by some good looking man who otherwise would have given her a pleasurable time. She stopped, closed her eyes, took another deep cleansing breathe to flush him out of her head and opened her eyes and found him in front of her eyes facing her. Now she was actually getting annoyed and her adrenaline raised. She wanted to push him and say ‘Back off’ but she gave him a stink eye and started walking in the direction she came from. He followed her again and now was walking beside her. Instead of being angry she was rather scared. She started wondering if ‘he is a psycho, a serial killer or probably a maniac? What if he is armed? What if he would malice her?’
She stopped right there as the fear within her was growing. She knew she can’t go towards her apartment because if he gets the knowledge of where she stays, he may assault her physically or sexually. Now she was regretting as why did she keep her phone at the apartment. She turned to him and asked “What do you want from me?” sweat was dripping down her temple, she was breathing loudly and her hands were shivering, and he then noticed that his act wasn’t amusing, he understood that she is frightened.
He introduced himself to her as “Hey Stephanie, I am Jack” and paused, wondering if she could remember him but probably she wasn’t able to think beyond this fear.
He continued “Jack Parker?” and he again paused in a hope that she could remember him and yes she did remember. She was wide-eyed staring at him as if he said ‘I am Alien’.
Then she said “Jack Parker is a ?” and he immediately replied “Cracker” and she punched him on his left arm and he squealed “Ouuuuu” and she grabbed him in her arms and they both laughed.
When she unwrapped her arms around him, she asked “Dude where have you been? And why have you been acting so insane? You scared the hell out of me. I soooo hate you”
and he laughed a bit more louder this time and said “Remember you used to say no one can bluff you, well well! seems I did it”
and now she hit him harder this time on his right arm and said “You almost gave me a heart attack, you fool” she took a relaxing breathe and continued “What happened to the chubby lad who was my neighbour? What did you do to my best friend? Goddd! you have transformed yourself into sheer eye candy, must say I won’t miss the old Jackie” and he was enjoying the way she speaks, the way her lips made an ‘O’ for some words, the way her eyes pops out, she still fusses over small things and he still adores her.
She asked “Would you like to come by or are you going somewhere?”
“Would love it, you have cooked something or should we pick something on our way?”
and she said “The last thing I would want to do today is cook, we would pick something from that Chinese nook takeaway and eat at my studio. I have no wish to go anywhere today. I didn’t even want to meet anyone but meeting you was something I am grateful to God” and he could only smile to what she just said, it may have not meant much to her but it meant everything to him because she definitely meant the world to him.
While they were walking from the beach towards her apartment, he told her that he has his car parked so they don’t have to walk, and he took out Audi A8 and her jaw dropped looking at that white beauty.
She exclaimed “Wow you’ve got a lovely car” and he thanked her. She continued with her questions “What do you do? Where have you been? Where do you stay? Oh! I’ve got so many questions”
his smile grew and he said “I am an entrepreneur. Into textile manufacturing and distributing, I stay in a duplex in Bronx and I’ve been living in New York since last 2 years. Before that I was in New Jersey with my family that I am sure you are aware of” and she thought how would he react to her all mussed up studio apartment. She was lost throughout the journey when he stopped his car and she felt jerked. He pointed to the Chinese nook, and they ordered takeaway noodles and rice, while her uneasiness grew. She was now convinced inviting a businessman who stays in a duplex to the her small studio apartment has been a bad idea, infact a very bad idea. She didn’t realise that he took her to her apartment without even asking her the address.
When they got down, they walked towards the lift and after getting inside he pressed the button for 8th floor, only then she realised and asked “How do you know where I stay?”
She was shocked as she just realised that he didn’t even ask her, her address. He knew if he didn’t answer straight away she would probably be wondering if he is not Jack and is some kind of killer, and yes he knew her better, she did think the same. He raised his both hands to exclaim that he is surrendered and said “Before you think anything remotely stupid and false let me tell you that our meeting on beach was not by some random acquaintance but I had been following you. Not to kill you or assault you, but to meet you. “
They reached on her floor but she wasn’t opening the door before she hears something worth her acceptance. She folded her arms below her chest and was tapping her right foot on the floor. He understood she was waiting and he continued explaining “Steph! You think by yourself that if I’ve changed so much that you couldn’t recognise me, how do you think I can recognise you at first acquaintance? The day I stepped in New York I wanted to find you. I had been occupied in setting up my work here but whenever I could I did try to search you. ”
She was beginning to believe him and she herself couldn’t bare standing there as her legs started aching after her long evening walk.
She said “Before you continue let’s get inside and have our meal, I am starving you see” and she winked.
She opened the door and stepped out of her slip ons. He sat on her couch and she brought the plates, spoons and forks from kitchen. She was embarrassed by the state of her apartment. It was small but with his presence it seemed to have shrunk. She was getting more self conscious and he was his casual self. He served her the rice and noodles and they both ate and for few minutes they both were silent but then he initiated the conversation “You have had a hard time lately?”
and she was struck by the thought “How do you know? and please continue what you were saying outside”
and he did continue “So I found you almost a month back, you know Mark Joshua?” and she nodded, he was her co-worker.
He said “I know him since I know his brother Joseph who works at my company. I was scanning through his Facebook friends when I noticed his brother’s profile, and there I found you”
and she laughed saying “You spy the guys who work at your organisation? “
and he said “Naah! I had a hard time searching for you. It was one of the ways how I was searching for you. I assumed that at least one of your old friends are mutual to your new friends or acquaintance. So I used to go through each person in my knowledge area to find you. And mind it, it was bad”
and she was now blushing for unknown reasons. he continued “I contacted Joseph and then had a word with Mark and asked all about you, and that’s how I got to know where you live, you are in much work pressure, blah blah”
and she was intrigued to ask “What all you asked about me? And why were you so keen to find me?” with a secret hope that he wanted to know if she is single but Jack said “You were my best friend”
“Ah we were 10 Jack”, and anyone in the world can guess that she was annoyed by his answer.
“So what, haven’t you heard we make the best kind of friends when we are kids?” and he was smirking.
“Come on Jack, we do search for our old friends but we don’t go to the ends of the earth to find our long lost friends, so will you please tell me why did you put so much effort in searching me?” her skin between her eyebrows was creased and he could see the anxiety on her face.
He got up, put his hands in his pant’s pockets, started to putter around. He didn’t know what to say, he knew time would come when he have to justify his actions but he didn’t know it would be the first time he would meet her after more than a decade. He was well aware that now he cannot jest to escape from this situation. He could see it in her eyes what she is expecting and he would pour his heart out to her but he can’t be sure if what he is interpreting is accurate. She may just ask him to walk out of her life, probably make a big fuss about it. She may think he is a psycho that he still loved her after 15 years. Or she may be kind to him now but eventually wouldn’t return his calls. He had assumed that he would make her feel special and be her closest friend and will confess his love for her after few weeks or months and probably she would accept. He was sure that she was single but he wasn’t sure if she was willing to get into a relationship.
On the other hand, Stephanie was getting anxious with every passing second. She thought if he is regretting his decision of meeting her, probably he wouldn’t meet her now. She was regretting pushing him so much with her stupid questions. She was counting seconds, two minutes passed and he was still strolling in her apartment and she decided if in a minute he doesn’t speak up, she would. She would say something like, ‘let’s chuck it, I am glad we met’ and yes she was so glad.
He finally spoke up after some 2.45 minutes (yeah she seriously was counting) and she gave a big sigh full of relief on hearing his first word “Look Steph don’t panic, I am not a psycho. But I’ve got to tell you that when I read your article on ‘Women Empowerment’ on Weekly Digest, and your details were published with your photographer I was awestruck by your beauty. I couldn’t recognise you for a while and I was in love with each of your word in that article. Hmpphh”
“But that article was posted 2 years back”
“You are the reason I planned to come to New York, I am well aware I sound insane and I didn’t want to confess these stuff on our first day of reunion but your questions made me helpless. And I know you probably won’t meet me now but that’s alright. I am glad at least I confessed my feelings for you”, and now he had nothing else to say. Though he was worried about what she would say, somewhere he felt a huge burden is released from his heart, he felt light and better than he was in last 2 years. Now it was his turn for the wait and Stephanie too took some 2 minutes to answer (yes he too was counting). He felt his heart was beating louder than a drum and he was worried if she could hear the beats.
She was herself struggling with words. She had known Jack for last few hours but she has this deep bonding with him, he is that guy she doesn’t have to pretend, she can hit him, punch him, laugh with him, and he doesn’t make faces on seeing her untidy studio. But she had not known him since so many years, what if he is some bad guy? Though he doesn’t seem so. She needed to talk to someone who knows him, probably having a word with Mark would set her mind straight. She said finally “Would you mind if I make a call?” and he felt dumb-founded. He could only nod, and she sprinted to her kitchen. She called Mark and asked about Jack, what his brother Joseph said about him, everything he knows about Jack, and Mark responded positively.
He said that he is a nice hardworking guy and is pretty rich, he also said that Joseph in his 3 year working experience with him never found him with a girlfriend. Mark also added “Girl, he is mad about you, he asked me all sorts of stuff like ‘is she single? what she likes? what kind of girl she is at work? and always asked me, do you think she would accept me? I mean I couldn’t believe that such a huge businessman, such a successful entrepreneur could be so scared and weak. He loves you Stephie, you are a lucky girl”.
Well until now she never considered herself lucky, at least in case of Love in her life. She have had enough bad dates, and now she had stopped going out with any man since more than a year. She was now feeling butterflies in her stomach and she rushed towards her room because all she wanted to do now is grab him in her arms and that is exactly what she did. She stood in front of him and staired him squint-eyed, because it was her turn to jest.
He stood up because now he was worried whom she had a conversation with, a boyfriend? a girl gang? her mother? and before his thoughts go haywire she clung her arms around his neck and hugged him tight, and she did it in such quick seconds that he was stunned for few breathes, then he embraced her in his arms and his life felt complete. She too found someone who loves her, because she was tired of lame dates, tired of her monotonous life where what she did was work, household, sleep, eat.
Their life took a beautiful turn. She found love of her life on a day when she didn’t want to meet anyone. Because God has better plans for us.