And that moment I really didn’t want to leave. Something just felt so wrong.
“Will you please move your flat ass to the plane now? Otherwise if you miss your flight I’m gonna have to tolerate you for another five hours. Oh Goodness!”, she said as she placed her hands on her ears, in a failed attempt to play the scene from some B-Grade Hindi movie.
I rolled my eyes and walked away.
“Bye”, she shouted and I just knew that she was smiling.
I waved without even turning back.
“Serena?? Hello?? You there?? ‘S’? Can you hear me? For God’s sake, say something? I’m worried sick here.”
Pragyan’s voice brought me back to reality.
“Y..y..yes”, I said when I managed to find my voice.
“Serena?? Listen to me. Now’s not the time to break down. Come here as soon as possible. Annie needs you”
I don’t even know who said this, for I was too blank to say anything.
“Be positive, Serena. Our Annie’s the strongest. Right?” he said. But something told me he didn’t believe in his own words.
“Yeah”, I managed to say before my voice cracked.
I put the receiver down and sat on the cold hard floor. I felt the pain I had felt hours ago when I saw her almost getting murdered. It was the same kind of pain, just ten times more painful and hundred times more real.
* How do I get up from a nightmare when I am not even asleep? *
Unwelcomed thoughts flooded my mind and with them came unwelcomed tears. And just as I was surrendering myself to the weak, ugly side of me, Annie’s words crossed my mind.
“You’re SERENA !! You’re supposed to be strong. Never forget that.”
“I won’t”, I said as I wiped my tears and pulled myself together. “I’m strong. I know I’m strong. She believes I’m strong.” I talked to myself while I got up.
*All I have to do is go there and give her the strength to fight*
So, I collected my essentials and rushed out of the door and got into a cab. As I got in, I turned my phone on. There was a message from Pragyan with my flight details. I opened the message but instead of the text something else got hold of my attention. It was the photograph which was set as the wallpaper.
It was a photograph of me and Annie, taken a few years back, during our college days. It was a beautiful picture of us, in black and white, both laughing our hearts out while looking at each other, without any care for the world. It was one of our favourite.
I remember how she tried to get one such picture of us, back when “candid” was the trend. She would make someone take our photographs while she and I, both fake – laughed for hours. I remember how bad those photographs came out and how upset she got over them. She never tried to pull that stunt again.
It was me, who, later had to flirt with a senior (who also happened to be a photographer) to make him take our pictures, without us noticing. And then bam!! Three days later I had that photograph in my hand, which I gave her as a present on Friendship Day. I still remember how her face lit up when she saw that picture for the first time.
It was chilling in here. I didn’t even realise that it had started to rain.
“Can you please turn the AC off?” I asked the driver.
I was still freezing. Maybe I wasn’t cold on the outside.
I gazed towards the window. I saw the tiny water droplets kissing the glass. I pulled the glass down a little and let the chilling mixture of rain and breeze get in They stroke my cheeks gently while I closed my eyes.
“You’ll catch cold”, Annie used to shout every time I did something like this.
I have always been a firm believer that rain brings happiness and life while Annie’s belief replaces the ‘happiness and life’ with ‘cold and fever’.
Pragyan always teased her saying that she’d faint in an overcrowded room due to lack of oxygen.
*My fragile, little, disease prone girl*
I smiled while a tear drop made its way to my chin.
*God can’t be that unfair, can he?* I shooed the thought away.
“Nothing’s gonna happen to her. She’ll be fine. Everything will be alright” I kept mumbling this like a mantra as I softly surrendered myself to tears.
I cried all my way to the airport and after reaching, I realised I was late. I hurriedly got on the plane and made myself comfortable in my seat. Without finding the glam magazines of any interest, I went back to starring at the window.
The sky was still dark. There weren’t many stars in the sky for it was all cloudy. However, there was this one star, glowing all alone in pitch darkness.
That was how we were in school, where we met. We were so different from the rest of the friendships. We stood out.
And even though we were just a couple of kids, we knew this friendship was forever. And anybody, (just about anybody) who saw us, wouldn’t disagree with that.
There was this one time when a major earthquake hit us and when I went to school the next morning, she shouted “Serena!! I thought I’d never get to see you again”, and hugged me tight.
While everyone in the class was like “Aww, you both”, I pulled back from her and said, “not that I’m taking it personally, but FYI, my house is a lot stronger than most of their friendships” I pointed towards the other girls.
“Such a bitch” she smiled.
“Tissue?” I heard a deep voice, from the seat next to mine. I turned away from the window and saw a hand holding out a tissue. As I followed the hand on its way up to see the face of the person it belonged to… I was speechless. He was so smoking hot with his long fair face, grey eyes and slightly brownish short messy hair.
I seemed to have lost control over my emotions for my cheeks were all wet with tears.
And for the first time since I’ve woken up, I was worried about how I looked.
“Thanks”, I said as I took the tissue from him. I wiped my tears and tried to do my hair. But I knew it won’t be of any use. I was looking hideous. I didn’t even bother to change.
“Bad break up?” he asked.
“No”, I said, as I turned my face towards him again. “Why would you guess that?”
“Well, you look pretty messed up. You’ve got no luggage, you’re wearing your PJs and you’ve been crying for as long as I can remember. If not breakup, what is it then? “, his eyes were so intimidating.
“It’s my best friend. She’s in the hospital. They say, it doesn’t look good”, I said as my voice cracked by the end of the sentence.
“Oh! That’s even worse. I’m so sorry. ”
I gave him half a smile, not wanting to talk anymore.
“Can I see her?” he asked, some moments later.
I looked at him, surprised by his efforts to take some stranger out of her misery even if it was just for some moments.
He caught me but took it the wrong way.
“It’s okay, if you don’t want to” he said
I cut him, “No, it’s totally fine. Here”
I took my phone out, switched it on and gave it to him. He started swiping from one picture to another while I tried to count the colour in his eyes.
“Wow! You both go way back. You look like twins. ”
I smiled, “I know”
That’s what everyone says. It was our favourite compliment of all.
“I must say, I’m so jealous of you both” he said handing me the phone back.
“Everybody is”, I smiled a little more.
But then, my face fell.
“Maybe I was too proud to have her” I mumbled.
He heard it. He put his hand on mine. It took me by surprise. I looked him in the eye as a tear rolled down my face. He wiped it away.
“Everything will be alright. After all how can something so unfair happen to a girl so beautiful?”
And even though I found most of the flirtations cheesy, something made me blush this time.
I turned my face away to face the window.
* Annie does have some weird ways of setting me up with hot guys *
I smiled at the thought.
P. S- the climax will be out next week. Stay tuned.