The Moonstruck Columns

One Last Time

On the edge of the roof, he had a clear view of the large silver screen on the roof of the building opposite rippling merrily in the twilight wind. His hand itched to press start on the remote in his hand. Yet something told him that he wanted to savour the moment for he had no idea what was going to be on it. It was a one-time shot. He knew he would never be able to play back the memories again.

The recollections of short time he had spent with her burned his ears red and wrenched his heart like a rain-drenched handkerchief being wrung dry. Yet here he was, standing in front of a single chance given to him to relive the best moments he had spent with her. Only this time, it was as an observer; like a spectator of a movie.

In this generation which lives in minute moments, a place where you could get to decide whether to swipe left or right on people who appeared as cards on your smartphone app with snippets of quotes copied from the internet without ever meeting them in person, she was more like him. She preferred to meet people in bookstores and record-stores. Except there were no record stores left anymore. Yet, they stole their moments.

One day, he remembered, she texted him just before he was getting out of the office. “Could you meet me today?” she asked. He had other plans but something in her voice told him that he should meet her instead. It was not that she would hold it against him if he didn’t make it. But it would definitely make her feel better.

He walked the Southern Avenue with swift steps and hour later. His mind calculating all the possible scenarios this could be about. He knew that he would be able to calm her down. It was a gift he was quite proud of.

She always had deep eyes filled with warmth and unspoken pain—something he could always read. In a way, he could never tell if he was in love with her or just the idea of her. For she was the closest to the person he imagined he’d end up with in his life.

She smiled at the sight of him walking toward her. The kind of smile that could never lie. He could tell that she longed to meet him and that she was glad he could come.

“Hey, you!” he said as he reached nearer.

A slight red patch appeared on her cheeks for a split second as she stole away the glance just that split second.

“I missed you, PP” she said.

“I missed you too.”

They climbed the stairs of the Coffee-Bean Books which turned out to be rather empty for a Wednesday evening. There were only three people on the entire floor. The quaint bookstore cafe consisted of four wide aisles with bookshelves as high as the moderately high ceiling and coffee tables placed alternately within the aisles.

They took the one adjacent to a black board on the wall on which people left scribbles of dedication when they felt like.

“How has your week been? You’ve been aloof.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I am…” she stopped mid-sentence and looked up at him with hesitatingly apologetic eyes which he was too sharp to overlook. He smiled.

“So, did you watch the movie I told you about?”

“I am sorry. I haven’t. But in my defence I have seen it half.”

“You’re a useless chick, Space”

It was her turn to smile for she had understood what he was about to address her as.

“I am. You know I am, P” she smiled.

He always loved the way she looked at him. Sometimes with him she pretended to be the cool person everyone thought she was. Yet he knew her in a very different way from everyone; something he couldn’t even explain to himself. And it was a source of mysterious, energetic attraction for him. The reason why he could tell that this is the place he needed to be. The reason why he knew that she was never going to tell him what she wanted to. Yet he knew exactly what it was.

“Here. You’re the artist. Draw something” she suddenly broke the spell as she tore away their eyes which were locked into each other. She grabbed a few yellow pieces of chalk and flicked it toward him.

“You think I should?” he flushed. He detested showing off. But at the same time, he felt a restless urge to do so.

She nodded.

He slowly pulled the chair aside and started drawing. Stealing glances from the corner of his eye, he could tell her attention was glued to the board, tracing his hands as he drew.

When he finished, she was delightfully surprised. He threw the remainder of the yellow chalk back to her which she pocketed.

“How can you be so brilliant!” she said with a flirty admiration. He shrugged swelling up with pride.

She glanced at him once again with those longing eyes as her lips curled into a smile. And once again he knew what she never said out loud. Perhaps sometimes, things are better when they aren’t decorated with voices. Uncertainty has a way of preserving hopes.

They loitered  in the streets for a couple of hours before they both had to get back home.

“Everything will be okay, you” he said at the time of parting that night. He remembered it clearly. 

It was the last time they had met alone.

He stood at the edge of that roof thinking what went wrong from that point on. It had looked so effortless. But it was evident that the moment had passed them by; time had moved on. All the text messages, all the meetings he was finally prepared to let go-to break. Like that box of toys you left behind when you moved away to college. The box you knew you didn’t need anymore.

She was happy now. Or at least that’s what it seemed like from her social media profiles she so actively updated. He smiled at the thought of her longing glances from across the table. He wondered if she still had that fire in her eyes. Or did he trade them to settle for mortal gratifications. He smiled at the thought that maybe she was truly happy; it was what he had always wanted for her. Maybe it was for the best that they become strangers again.

He looked up and pointed at the silver screen and hit play. To see her smile—one last time.

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