The Come Back – Chapter 17

by Anita Menon

I have installed the ARCHIVE at the bottom of the page  for anybody who wants to scroll through the previous chapters.

Anna got into a taxi, made herself comfortable plugging her ipod and opening a book in front of her. But her nerves tingled in anticipation of the meeting that lay ahead. She closed the book and thrust it back in her bag, then rolled down her windows to feel the cool air on her face. It was a sunny day after many cloudy ones. The wind had a bite that spelt winter was not far away. Her cotton dress seemed a little inappropriate considering it might get chillier on the way back. But this was her new special occasion dress, the one with tiny red flowers that spoke about the spring in her heart. With cherry red lips and long hair in waves, she knew she would turn a few heads today for sure. But the one she wanted to enamour was a certain Doctor whom she’d met at the hospital and who was devoted to making her Papa feel better.

She had taken all the time to choose what she was to wear and what she was to say. She called her therapist before this meeting with her beau, who had given the much-anticipated,  nod to go ahead. She very much wanted to think of him as her boyfriend but she wasn’t too sure about his expectations. But they had been texting each other every instant wanting to know what the other is doing, thinking and even wearing sometimes. A blush spread across her cheek matching her cherry red lips. The  dress was just short of covering her knees, she noticed when she sized herself up in front of the mirror. She walked to and fro to see if it was elegant without being too pretentious. It had been ages that she was dressing up for somebody who would appreciate her for the effort. With her  hair tied up she looked a lot younger than she was and it was vital for her to look like a woman of the world.  She wistfully let her hair down and looked around for other festive seeming ideas. She did not have  a lipstick that matched her dress and grew panicky by the minute. The taxi would be up at the porch in a few minutes time and in that desperate moment she couldn’t help but sneak into Ash’s room to rummage through her make up. Most of it was dark and unsightly in her opinion and after a lot of searching she found a cherry red lipstick in the stash. It was serendipitous that Ash wasn’t anywhere in sight. Where does she disappear to these days, she thought suspiciously. Just as she tried to sneak out from Ash’s bedroom she heard footsteps climbing the stairs. In the moment of utter panic she dropped the lipstick. Anna bent down to pick it up and found Mrs. P staring at her with confusion written on her face. No words were said and each went their direction as if nothing had happened.

While applying her cherry lipstick she felt outraged at herself for being so silly. After all, she wasn’t stealing her sister’s lipstick but was merely borrowing it for the occasion. She tip toed back to Ash’s room to leave it in the stash to which it originally belonged. Happy with her look, she glided down the stairs and on the way bumped into Ash. Utterly self-conscious, Anna pulled her lips in, in the bid to conceal them from her sister. But Ash seemed pre – occupied to pay any attention and made her way to her room. Only the mere sight of her sister could put her off, Anna observed. Her spirit shriveled and only the thought of meeting Richard put the smile back on her face.

In the taxi, still a few minutes before she was to reach her destination, which was a cafe at the center of the city, she couldn’t help but feel how meeting Ash before such an important meeting was almost like a bad omen. This was her first meeting with Richard after many nights of longing and it had to be perfect. She stepped out of the car, paid the driver and tipped him too. Anna made her way to the cafe which was vibrant and full of happy people. Celebration, joy and romance were in the air. She spotted Richard who waved at her and she felt like her heart would just hammer out of her chest. She took her place facing his seating and couldn’t help but marvel at his meticulous dressing sense. A day old stubble made him look ruggedly handsome she thought to herself but his demeanour was lacking the confidence she’d spotted in the hospital.

“Hope you found this place, alright? “, he inquired. She merely nodded and beamed back it him. He was so different and unlike Jai, who never bothered about her convenience. In her head, she thanked her stars that they broke up else she would have missed meeting this gorgeous man.

” You look so beautiful, Anna.”, he complimented without really looking at her.

“What would you like to drink? Some wine, I’d reckon? ” he asked clearly not looking into her eyes. She at once knew something wasn’t right but the moment was so perfect that she did not want to jump to it this soon.

Promptly some fruity wines were served and there was no reason to stall the agenda any longer.

Unable to bear the tension, Richard spoke after a few sips for courage,” Anna, I love you.”

Shaken from this not so surprising admission, Anna stuttered,” I think  I like you too , Richard.”

“We’ll be good together and I am relieved that you feel the same way. I have been tormenting myself for the past days wondering what you may feel about this. Now I feel relieved and so happy.”  He beamed at her.

Sunshine filtered in from the large French windows of the cafe and few butterflies fluttered outside on the Chrysanthemums. For the first time, everything was going to be alright. Anna felt assured that her dream of a mansion, a worthy husband and beautiful children was going to come true after all.

In that perfect moment, he took her hands in his and held them tight.

“Before we go any further, I’d like to let you know that I am married.”, Richard confessed.

Anna turned pale on hearing this, withdrew her hands from his grasp and took a few sips from her glass to steady herself.

” Why didn’t you tell me this before? Didn’t you think it was important?” , she asked dejectedly.

” I could have but I wanted to do it in person and not through a text! I didn’t know for sure, how you felt about me. It is all too complicated but all I know is I love you and nothing matters more to me than to be with you, Anna”.

” How can I be with somebody who is already married. This is so unfair!” she retorted, wounded. With this, she was about to get up to go, when Richard took her hand and made her sit back into her seat.

” Anna, listen to me. You are all that I want now and I cannot bear to think of my life ahead without you. Even after this, you feel you would want to leave, please do by all means.”

Anna didn’t respond since any word out of the mouth would be accompanied with gushing of tears, she feared.

She turned her back to him, preparing to leave when she heard him say,

” I’ll divorce her, Anna. Please don’t go.”