Thursday, 7 May 2020

Blah blah, Woof woof [AR One shot]

It's the tranquility of night like this one makes her slightly imbalanced. There is no familiarity in the scenery which passes by yet she looks out of the window of the car anyway.

She hears him singing softly to a sixties song, his fingers drumming the steering wheel lightly. She gets lost in the intricate patterns dancing on them made by the lights from dashboard. She stubbornly refuses to see the clock blinking in neon blue. She knows that it's not the time for two people to be out together to figure out things. She worries about the look on her sister's face for being missing for entire night and probably for the next day too. But right now she doesn't want to think about anything else apart from the man who is driving the car.

They were taking that drive to talk, to figure things out between them.

There were things lying on the surface. Their friends thought it was attraction, some thought it was primal rivalry and many thought it was a boy-girl thing. She knows there is something between them brewing under the surface. It is a secret that only they know about. A mystery they were trying to solve by getting away from civilization and trying to find answers in anonymous places.

He is still singing songs, his voice too soft for her to make out his words. As soon as they sat in the car he let out a whoosh of speechlessness which had encompassed both of them for couple of hours. She wonders if they could get more talking done in hospital's locker room when compared to privacy of the car. She has not uttered a single word since they started the drive. He seems to be okay with that, she thinks.

She continues to watch the scenery passing by and that is when she realizes that they are far away from city night lights. It scares her to know that she doesn't particularly care where they were going. She was with him. And that's all it mattered.

She has been waiting for this to happen for a while now. This talk is supposed to solve things and make everything better and clear between them. And now that it has, she wants to run away from all this and leave things the way they are.

He makes a sharp turn on the country road making her head bump the window. Once he gets control back he smiles at her sheepishly. She returns his smile as if it's the most natural reaction in the world. In her world, it is.

He bends over and pins streams of hair behind her ear. There is no intimacy in that action but only an understanding of familiarity. It scares her. However she gently smiles back.

Now she wants this privacy or intimacy or whatever was encapsulating them to end and she blurts out that she is hungry. He grins at her and checks time on dashboard and looks back at her. The night has ended and its wee hours of morning and they haven't talked about anything yet. She shrugs at him.

He pulls over in the field next to an all night truckers' stop which is far away from civilization. She sees his hesitant smile with the place he has chosen for them to eat. She gets out of the car with a shake of her head and stretches her limbs once she is out. She blushes when she catches him starting at her.

She notices that the place isn't much. A pungent residue of night is still left in the contours of waiters and cooks of the eatery. She walks behind him taking in everything that dingy place has to offer.

On her right side there are few people scattered here and there eating, talking, laughing, wiping their exhausted eyes and exchanging stories of their respective road trips. She watches them as he maneuvers both of them to a nearby seat. She allows him to gently push her in the direction of wherever he wanted them to be. It is like that with them all the time. One pushes, the other follows. Dominant and submissive are interchangeable roles between them.

He speaks to her in a slow free and easy tone, one that she has heard often. But she notices the lack of tightness which had held him, her and everyone they worked with for the past few days. He prefers this kind of place compared to swanky restaurant. She knows this for a fact even though he has never been verbal about. She wonders if she is the only one who knows his love for eating places where truckers stop.

She drops a whole bowl of curd on her shirt and he mocks at her inability to hold the cup, but his eyes are dancing with mirth and he smiles. She shrugs and splashes water to remove left over curd on her shirt. He shakes his head and offers her his jacket. She protests at his chivalry by crossing her arms then he blushes and points towards her now translucent shirt. She puts on his jacket wordlessly.

His voice drops a few decibels and she strains to hear his voice amidst the bedlam. He talks about his dysfunctional childhood at the same time when he signals a waiter to serve them an extra jar of pickles. She is shaken up by the steady flow of his words and her hands are frozen midway to her mouth. He notices her stance, smiles but continues talking anyway. He sips cool buttermilk when both chewing and talking make his mouth dry. She feels this action being a cover to swallow a lump in his throat too. She fixes a stare on the rivulet of buttermilk that has left the confines of his mouth as it travels along his pointed chin. His words dissolve around her and she frantically searches her purse for a tissue. He talks as he continues to eat but looks up suddenly when he feels something soft touching his chin. She wipes his cheeks, jaws with reverence of a mother, discards the tissue and goes back to eating. She muses if she should share something personal or a hidden secret with him too. A quid pro quo of sorts. Maybe just to make him seem less vulnerable than what he is feeling now. She remembers that it stopped being a competition long time ago. 

He smiles again; genuinely this time.

She wonders where they are and where they were going next. It did not matter to her much but it wasn't in her habit to be this disoriented. She finds him talking to a waiter clearly asking for directions for some place they are going next.

He looks like an excited child when he tells her where they are going next. She has never been to a village fair before and he thinks it's high time she visits one. She nods her head in approval as they drive into intricate country roads.

The early morning sun, cool breeze and tension fill the car. There is a complex and heady aroma rendered by his cologne and her feminine perfume. They had used dingy bathroom in the hotel to freshen up. She figures he is as much conflicted as she is. Even in confliction, they are partners. She chuckles at the thought.

She notices the thin layer of dust getting settled on the car hiding the shiny surface beneath it. Surfaces. She knows a thing or two about it.

They didn't speak but communicated well enough to understand the feeling of something lying beneath the surface of wild bantering and mild flirtations. But neither was ready till now to scratch or wipe the surface clean and display things as raw as it can get.

She doesn't like being vulnerable nor likes her feelings exposed naked for the whole world to see. She knows that he is like that too. And it makes her feel a lot better about the whole deal.

The colors from village fair combined with morning sun blinds her for a minute or two. They fall in step next to each other as they thread amidst the crowds stopping every now and then. She decides she likes it when he drops his head to whisper something in her ear which otherwise might miss over the din around them. She adds that feeling to list of things she loves. It startles her that the list had grown considerably long after she met him.

He buys her a ridiculously large pair of sunglasses. They are purple with red colored frame. She protests loudly but he buys them anyway. She humors him by wearing them and demands an ice-cream. He tries to talk her out of it naming a few medical conditions with respect to hygiene. She sticks her tongue out in retaliation and makes him pay for the ice-cream. She feels like a little girl going out on her first field trip and she thanks him wordlessly for making her feel that way again. Of course he cannot see her eyes, she mocks herself, as they are behind purple glasses.

She wipes her hand easily on her expensive suit pants not caring for the stain it will leave behind. She gives him a toothy smile and wonders if he can sense happiness coursing through her veins via his hands draped across his shoulders. His answering smile makes her believe so. He whips out his cell phone and takes a picture of them.

Happiness may not be permanent but at least it can be captured and stored for future references, she muses. 

She likes being with him like this. He is carefree and she is unwound. It's a good combination, she decides. They walk around the fair for few hours eating whatever catches their eye. She even rides on not so giant wheel, squeals when their chair is on top and clenches his side in excitement. He kisses their intertwined fingers and she feels heat pooling in her cheeks. She notices his eyes being as warm as the mid-day sun above her.

He tells her that he is not a fan of single color and buys her two dozens of various colored bangles. He tells her tiny anecdote involving every color of bangle he puts on her hand. He tells her about his mother and explains the loneliness experienced by his mother from the eyes of a ten year old. She notices his hands shake and she gently covers them with her own. He continues with a new story after a few minutes. She likes him a little more then.

He buys them lunch and takes her to picnic. She dips her feet in shallow stream. When he puts his feet next to her, she feels the action to be intimate. She eats her lunch in silence and realizes that they have only few hours left and they still have not talked. She steals a glance at him and sees that he has never looked so peaceful before.

He drapes his arm over he shoulders and hums a tune when they walk back towards their car. She wonders when the physical boundaries between them were crossed, broken and trampled all over. What makes her feel surprised is that she does not feel her personal space being invaded. It was more like he was claiming what is his and trading her space with his. She looked up and joined him in his humming. She glows when he looks down and smiles at her. His lips wash across her cheek and she breathes in his dizzy smell.

She can feel the tension surrounding them enveloping them in its big womb. She stares at his silhouette and sees it leaning down. She is surrounded by honey colored sunlight yet the warmth from him scorches her being. It is then her brain stops for a moment to make her realize that she is the middle of their first kiss. She refuses to listen to her thoughts, shoves her brain away and tightens her hold on him.

They communicate.

The steady hum of stream, late afternoon sunlight, his aroma, her perfume, pungent smell of their lunch, tinkling of her glass bangles, cheap sunglasses perched on her head, blush in her cheeks, his gentle smile and the happiness pulsing through them. She captures them all and locks away in a glass jar. For future references, her brain mocks.

She doesn't mind the silence in the car on their drive back home. She likes silence even more now. And in this silence, they communicate.

He drops a kiss on her forehead when they make final stop for refreshments before they head home. She listens to silence. She knows that they won't talk anymore.

Talking is overrated anyway.


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