May 4, 2015

Coffee with a stranger

She walked back two steps and peeked. Nothing. She could have sworn she had sensed someone there.

But then again, her mind had been playing tricks with her these days. All she could think of was him. Not that she was distracted. On the other hand, she was her most efficient self, churning out work faster than ever. The work actually was the distraction. From him. From the thought of having lost him.

The best part about her job was that it allowed her to pretend. She could always find numerous excuses to cover for her slightly puffy eyes. "Oh, it's probably from staring at the screen all day". She could always explain the quiet moods. "Well, there is so much work. Do you expect me to be chatty or to work?" Mustering up a made up smile was breeze on most days.

But the pain showed up in those few spare moments. It was burden of knowledge, knowledge that she could reach out to him, touch him, talk to him, but had lost him. He was always there in person, but for her, he was gone.

Then again, the ghost was with her. His ghost. Of course living beings could have ghosts. Every person you've met and left an impact on, you've left behind a ghost. And his ghost is what she saw that day too.

She went back to that spot the next day. There was surely something she could sense. There was a café just around the corner and she decided to grab a Cappuccino there. As she sat, staring into blank space, a tall guy, book in hand dashed into the chair next to her. It broke her reverie and she almost dropped her coffee.

He noticed that and highly apologetically, offered to get her something. She refused, but he sat down at the same table and started talking. "I'm so sorry. You see, I was actually looking at that little kid in the corner and didn't really watch whereI was going. I don't usually do that, but sometimes I get distracted. Ok very often. Is the coffee here good? I think I need coffee. Excuse me, can I please order!"

She wasn't really listening. She was watching. Him, his mannerisms. Oh gosh! The chair crasher reminded her of HIM. That did not happen much, because not many could meet those benchmarks he'd set. No one ever seemed to match what they had.  Yet somehow, in just less than two minutes though, chair crasher had managed to cross a few.

She forced herself to talk to him. The conversation wasn't bad. The laughter and wit was ample too. And just then, coffee was over. It was time to head back.

She got up and excused herself. "It was really nice to meet you". He grinned widely, sprung up and gave her a hug. "It indeed was ". And she walked away.

No. Numbers were not exchanged. Numbers were not asked. Names were not asked. And yet, this half an hour with a stranger liberated her. She knew she would never meet him again in all likelihood. She knew this wasn't a date or even a new friend. And she also knew, that it was this stranger who just broke her shackles.

She had just discovered, that the benchmarks she was bound by could be broken. That they were possible. She had lost him long ago, but today, she had lost his ghost too.

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