I felt too tired to walk any further. Sitting down on the staircase that led to the balcony, I braced myself for the moment of truth and switched on my phone. The usual ta-da-ding tone had hardly ended when my phone started vibrating like crazy.
24, 25, 26…The number of text messages/voice messgaes/missed calls increased at an alarming rate.
Once the vibrations completely stopped, which wasn’t until a good five minutes, I checked the Log and saw something that didn’t really surprise me.
All those 78 missed calls were from only one number. Those 37 messages were from that number only. And so was the case with those 57 voice messages.
The number that was formerly –before I deleted it from my contact list— saved under the name: David
Hesitantly, I opened the latest text message from him and read: Please, please please !! Give me a chance to atleast say sorry! To explain myself! To make it up to you for being such a jerk! Come ON, Anna. Reply to my messages, pick up my calls, come to school. Don’t shut me out like this.
My blurry vision prevented me from reading further. “And what about all those months when you didn’t only shut me out but also shunned me?” I said out loud to the cold, dark air.
There was silence all around. Every soul on the campus was in the auditorium where, to celebrate the commencement of the final week of our Senior Year before Graduation, they were serving tea and having an Open Mike night.
Now I sat there, in the cold, while everybody else was probably having the time of their lives, drinking hot tea and teasing and joking with each other.
I sighed deeply.
“You know it really wouldn’t kill you to read those messages or pick up the damn phone once in a while!”
I heard him before I saw him –and thats because his voice came from behind. And I felt him before I heard him. But I was careful not to let that show.
I neither turned nor stood up. Without showing any signs that I had heard him –and that I was crying— I said: “It just might.”
“Anna.” He pleaded.
Descending the stairs, he came and sat next to me.
He hadn’t yet seated himself comfortably, when I stood up abruptly, hating the smell of his cologne and its effects on me.
His hand shot out to catch mine.
“Can you please try not to be so clichéd? I’m not one of your cheerleaders, you know. Clichés and romance neither affect nor impress me. Don’t you know? I’m a geek and a loner too.” I quoted his earlier words.
He winced slightly –probably realizing that I still remembered every last bit of the insult that he had spat on my face, a few months prior.
“Anna just –”
“Leave my hand.”
“Listen to me.”
“LEAVE my hand.”
“I won’t, until you listen to what I have to say.”
“I won’t, until you leave my hand.”
“You won’t, even if I leave your hand.”
Seeing that this was going nowhere, I tried another tactic. Sighing loudly, I sagged my shoulders and dropped my weight until I was the perfect picture of despondence.
My plan worked! Thinking that I had given in, he unconsciously loosened his grip on my hand. Just enough for me to snatch it out of his.
“Hah!” I said triumphantly, moving away from him –just enough to be out of his reach— and crossing my arms across my chest.
He stood up and raising an eyebrow mockingly said-“Very mature. Almost as mature as a four-year old.”
“Whatever.” I replied haughtily and turning on my heels, started walking.
“Anna please! I’m sorry! Just stop for once and hear what I have to say. Please!!” He tailed me as I walked aimlessly straight.
“Not going to happen.”
“Okay. FINE! I’m going to do it right here then!” He said throwing his arms in the air .
“Do what?” I demanded.
“Apologies.” He was now in step with me and was facing me even as he walked.
He took my silence as an instruction to go on.
“I AM sorry. I’m sorry that I isolated you, that I got carried away by…those popular kids, that I made fun of you—“
“You made fun of me?”
He waved his hands in dismissal and continued –“I’m sorry about all those horrid things I said to you. I’m sorry that I called you a geek and a loner and a show off. Although.” He paused to think. “It sometimes does seem like you’re trying to show off-“ He broke at my threatening expression. “Sorry!”
“No! I’m not done yet.” He gushed. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t there at your brother’s funeral. By your side and consoling you. Sorry that I let you down. You believed in me and I couldn’t live up to your expectations.” He voice grew soft. “ I couldn’t even live up to mine. Sorry that I wasn’t a good friend to you although you always were to me and finally –”
Something in his voice made me stop and look up at him even though he was just a blur through my tears.
“I’m sorry that I wasted so bloody much time in realizing that I was in love with you.”
For a moment, I just stood there and stared at him. And he stared back.
And then the moment was over and I simply turned a ninety degrees away from him and started walking away.
“Atleast say something!” He cried falling into step once more.
“What?” I snapped. “That I love you too? For isolating me and condescending me and pretending to not know me in public? For not answering my calls and purposely overlooking me in the corridors? For calling me a geek, a loner and a show off too? For saying that I ‘whine’? For not being there at my brother’s funeral, by my side and consoling me? For letting me down? For not being a good friend?” I paused, still not breaking my stride. “And for apparently making fun of me.”
I raised my hand to my face to wipe away the tears but my cheeks felt dry and so did my eyes.
I wasn’t crying?
Why wasn’t I?
This was David. My friend.
My only friend. And he just told me that he loved me and I believe him. I really do.
Because that’s the only reason I ever fell in love with him. I could see his love for me growing in his eyes.
But then I remembered the number of times those eyes had grown dark as they had spotted me. And the number of times they had tried to obscure me.
And my love for him died all over again.
Because after all this s**t that he’d pulled out in these last couple of months, I wasn’t so sure if I could trust him again.
“You could love me,” He said softly, “For admitting my mistake and being profoundly sorry for the way I acted. And also promising never to do so again.”
I shook my head. “You cant just say that, David. Not after months of silence.”
I nodded. “Five and a half to be precise.”
He cursed aloud and then: “Anna, what can I do, what can I say to make you forgive me.” Then he added softly. “To make you fall in love with me?”
“Oh I’m in love with you too David.” I said matter-of-factly.
The door of the auditorium was a few steps away. I quickened my pace and reached my destination.
“Then?” I heard him say. “Whats the problem?”
I held the door open and right before I entered the hub of music and laughter, I said—
“I just don’t like you anymore.”