When there is a hole in a sock, your toes would crinkle to hide it in embarrassment. That’s how she felt at his sight; to her, he was tall in his splendour as he walks with his broad shoulders like a knight in shining armour. She wasn’t the damsel in distress in this story though, she was the character who never appeared, remained hidden underneath the stairs.
He entered into her life, and made a mess of it. He did nothing, he was just present, he laid his head on the table and by chance she glanced, and to her, it was the most peaceful face she had bestowed her eyes upon. There were many things she wanted in life and she gave them all up knowing there was no good in waiting. Yet, with him, she wanted him, with every fibre of her being.
Then, it started. The compulsive need to see him, to look at him from afar as if he was one of those sculptures only meant to be looked at. His name was scribbled all over her lecture notes, as her feet were anxious to run, run to places he would frequent. Suddenly, to her happiness is glancing at the door and at the very moment he entered with a bewildered face. She scavenged for every little detail she could find of him. The name, Nicholas did not roll off her tongue so easily, yet it became like a secret she would like to keep all to herself, masquerading him with a nickname. He left her in puzzlement, a set of jigsaw puzzles that she was struggling to complete.
He was worth writing about, a character that only gave her questions, never providing any answers. A mystery she would like to spend her lifetime solving, from how many t-shirts he owned to ‘is their meeting a play of fate or was it merely timing’? Every time she turned her head, he was there standing with one of his many varsity t-shirts with his compulsory neutral expression. His mere existence fascinated her.
There is something about him, it isn’t his looks. Well, not entirely. His slacken jawline, coffee coloured skin tone, and of course those black orbs glinting with mischief. He had this air of arrogance, of wanting to be admired, the recipient of wrath of the male population. Perhaps, it was self-assuredness, knowing he deserved only the best, and simplicity does not cut it. It couldn’t be the deep rumble of his voice, or even that slight twist of his lips; a boyish grin. She became greedy, hiding away was tiring. Yet, when she approaches, he pushes away.
Even when there’s another, one who is better and warmer than him, her thoughts and her feelings would waver like the wild grasses and drift back towards him again. Her tongue tied into a knot, at the sight of him. So, she stood farther. That slight smile he had, the one he rarely showed, the one the world had not been given the privilege to view – it made her lips lift upwards in the greyest of her days.
When sleep didn’t inch closer, she would lay in bed, thinking of the empty coffee cups, of filling in the blanks all those unanswered questions. She thinks of the swivelling doors, mocking as they open and close but he never appeared. She imagined how warm his fingers would feel clasped with hers as the both of them strolled along the shady gravel pathways. Perhaps, there would be a little skip and a giggle or two and smiles stretched a little too widely. Then she wondered how long she will have to endure the rain alone, with her constant disdain of the weather forecast, she would stand drenched at the train station. She thought of the days when her umbrella would fit two occupants, and their Wellington boots sloshing down the puddles. He would have a pair of blue ones, and she would wear canary yellow ones. The days when she knows her tomorrow would begin again, knowing someone would be waiting anxiously the way she always does, biting the edge of her pencil. Perhaps, she wouldn’t have to lip-sync her favourite songs. Instead she would shout it out loud without shame, both of them laughing and collapsing to the floor with tears at the corner of their eyes, clutching their stomach. Then, both of them would dance, a haphazard affair, she would step on his foot and he would wince exaggeratedly. Car rides in the middle of the night with no particular destination, only her and him and the endless road.
He’s a risk that she would like to take, and to be harmed, something that she couldn’t fight with, something that in time she would only flee from.
She wrote letters, inks bleeding on pieces of paper – her genuine feelings, words that she couldn’t muster to say to him, the ones which died at her throat. She sealed each with determination, walking up to him that one day, with an envelope in her hand.
He walked away and she stood there watching his broad shoulders fade away. She wouldn’t know if he turned to look back because she has already taken many steps away from him
She couldn’t do it, he who was always under the spotlight deserves a leading lady and she didn’t see herself as that. The letters were ripped apart with angry tears rolling down her cheeks, her time was up as he took the airplane leading him to his dreams. She could only smile at the thought of him, his smile, his boisterous laughter when he met his friends, how he would always walk around with his eyes focused on his mobile phone, how in those limited seconds she had in hand she could tell him apart from the crowd and even in the years to come, she could separate him from the rest; this was her consolation, of a story unwritten, of unsaid words.
To him, maybe she is no one, but to her, he was someone who mattered.