The Date to Remember – Fiction
by Anita Menon
It was day in office like any other. She had recently joined an organization but her heart was still back at her college campus, spending time reading at the library and teasing classmates. There was not a care in the world and she knew her future was full of possibilities. A technical training was in full swing and she tried hard to concentrate, but every now and then her eyes darted to the computer screen to spot new messages in her inbox. He wrote short emails. She wished that he’d write longer ones. At first glance they looked curt but when she weighed his words, they meant to convey so much.
It had been an hour already since the last email and she felt her body grow more and more restless every passing minute. He should have emailed to confirm. Well, the thing was, he had asked her out over the phone and details were to be shared over the emails during the day. She shivered with excitement for various reasons. One being, it was her first date with someone she secretly had a crush on since the time, she set her eyes on him. It made her delirious when it was reciprocated.
What was taking him so long? “Ping” – you have new email, it said. Promptly her hands took hold of the mouse to open the email and the sight of his name made her want to yelp with joy. He had written that the date was on and details were a surprise. It included a warning at the end, that it would be a long one, so she better prepare herself. Her fingers that typed away the reply to that email were sweaty in anticipation. It was a good thing, she said to herself, that within a month of moving to a new city, her social life had started to buzz. Now the intolerable wait till the evening!
Finally, the day at the office ended early or you can assume she skipped it because the date was to start early. They were supposed to meet at a mall and then take it further from there. When she entered the mall, she almost kicked herself for not going home to change. She saw a bevy of girls pass by looking absolutely sparkly. She called him to know where she should meet him and he asked her to take the escalator up to meet him at the cineplex foyer. So it was easy enough for her to guess, that they were going to watch a movie. Soon she saw him standing at the entrance of the hall with nachos and pop corn packets in tow. They simply exchanged pleasantries and moved into the dark hall with the other movie watchers. Soon she realized, it was a block buster movie that she had wanted to watch without fail. Within minutes she got engrossed in the movie , the plot, the characters, the twists and betrayal. She did not know that while she munched on her nachos and popcorn, he was watching her very intently. He watched her body’s silhouette in the darkness. He watched the chocolate tone of her skin glisten each time the lights from the screen fell on her. He observed that she was unself conscious and one with the purpose which at that time was watching the movie. He observed that she had just one anklet on her foot and began to wonder if she was the singular anklet wielding boho-rebel. But somewhere, in his mind, he was enchanted by her non-conformity. He imagined her running amok amongst the sunny flowers with a basket full of daisies. She was the one who could chase the butterflies with the same ease as she would conduct a meeting with a room full of suited stalwarts. Would he feel intimidated, he asked himself? Thats not even the right question, he heard himself answer. Funny how oblivious she was to his eyes watching her every movement.
The movie ended and she felt strange about how noninteractive he had been all the time. She felt as if he was getting bored in her company and that made her apprehensive. Surely she had it in her to keep him interested so she decided to drive the conversation from then on. Maybe then she would be able to understand if it was her or whether he was the recluse kinds. It would make it clearer whether there had to be anything to this association, if at all. Having made her mind, such, she embarked on a verbal diarrhea, quizzing, prodding, indulging and to the extent of simply meandering. He was kind, she understood. He listened like a man who was besotted but never offering his two cents on any topic at hand. She felt like a lone warrior who had lost her purpose in the pursuit. But she liked that he listened.
The date was to extend from movie watching to an evening at one of the most romantic spots in the city. They drove in silence more times with just the smattering of words when the silence became unbearable. Slowly the conversation started to dribble in and topic of life partners and marriage took center stage. She thought that she might just try become a match fixer and try to fix him up with her taciturn friends. She thought both of them would make a great pair. But she would feel sad, if he didn’t keep in touch with her. She would miss his emails, his song dedications to her and the lovely quotes that kept her engaged for the whole day in a romance that was akin only to the novels. He was definitely a much better person to interact over the emails, she decided. Maybe she should try being a little more flirtatious, open a shirt button or two, laugh more and throw her hair around. Darn why was he giving her such mixed signals!
He was taking it all in. Her boisterous talk, the way she threw her hands around while talking, the way she stealthily opened the top button of her blouse and how he couldn’t get enough of the sound of her laughter. His thoughts were interrupted when she started steering towards marriage. On an impulse he knew how the date had to end. He joined her conversation in bits and pieces while noticing the bent of her elbow and the uncreased neck. He did not believe in love at first sight because he was too real to humour himself with such fallacies. But he grew more sure of the outcome of the lovely evening.
Gosh!! she thought, those dimples that formed on his cheeks were hard to miss. Half of the evening was over and she was surprised she didn’t notice them before. She always had a thing for guys with dimples and felt that guys who had them automatically qualified as the ones who were caring and sensitive. The evening light heightened the gold color on his temples and she almost reached out to cup his strong chin. Slowly as if her eyes were seeing for the first time, she noticed that his skin was golden as it was bronzed; he was clean-shaven for the occasion and his hands looked neat. His lips parted every now and then as if to say something but then held back the words. What did he fear? A silly thought perhaps, or maybe a promiscuous pass or even the unbuttoned peak would have rendered him speechless. She giggled at the thought of it. He must think she was trying too hard, so she turned away a little to button it back. Now he would probably think that it had unbuttoned by mistake. She chided herself at making too much of a neat situation. Here were a boy and girl, meeting to have a good time, why should she tag other expectations from this rendezvous?
They were seated at an open air restaurant and ordered some food and beverage. There was a tingling that they were aware of. They spoke about the weather, the people at the restaurant, the dogs frisking about and the birds chirping at the height of a dulling summer evening. They sipped and spoke, the sipped and listened. There was a rhythm in their banal actions which they both were cognizant of. Time passed and she teased him with a prospect of introducing him to her friend.
He shrugged and asked instead, if she was willing to be his. To this, in spite of the shock, she managed to give him a weak smile. Obviously he was joking, only pulling her leg to keep the evening afloat. All this while he hadn’t uttered a word of significance and now he wanted her to be his for life? Ofcourse she was being teased. But his gazed was unwavering. It unsettled her since she knew he meant every word that dropped out of his mouth. How could he decide so quickly, given that he hardly knew her. How could he? She thought, she was frivolous about life but it surprised her that a seemingly mature man had the audacity to play prank of this order with her.
He knew that he had done her for the evening. There was a silence and then a weak laughter at the preposterous suggestion. He had to keep his gaze steady to prove the truth of his sentiments. Not once did it occur to him to reconsider. How could he tell her now that this was all he had in mind the entire evening. He had decided to risk it. He had known a lot of rejection and this was the one that he was ready to take because he knew he had never had anything handed over easily to him. He wanted her badly. Not in the physical sense alone, but her very essence, the light frothy delight that she brought about wherever she strode. He missed that zing in his life, this spring like chirpyness and delusion that life can be fun. He was sure that she would bring it with her into his life, if she said yes.
Only if she said yes.