Sunday, 10 June 2012

Short Story 2012 Longlist, Unnati Marda

Untitled

Part I
She walked along the busy aisle of the airport, the trolley wheels were gyrating against the polished granite. A few guys glanced at her. She walked steadfastly without looking. She was used to this by now. She had long hair with Medusa-like curls, shocking pink highlights and an athletic frame. She wore shorts and an oversized shirt that read” I kind of don’t like Rock”. Very opinionated and brusque, she wasn’t looking forward to another two hour flight with her head for company.

She’d been through a lot and thinking made her ache. It made all those incidents from the past flash in a reel-like manner. Most of all it created that craving for nicotine in her system. There were fewer and fewer airports where you could smoke a cigarette without being forced to exit security and stand outside on the curb. She clutched her lime green backpack tightly, digging her fingers in its straps. As she moved forward, she paused to pop a nicotine gum and bought a cappuccino from the nearest Barista.

She glanced around at the airport. Travel was something that she did regularly. She now had categories for people found in an airport. That was another one of her favorite things to do, categorizing people. There were the ones that slept their way through cities; the one’s who worked on the way not looking up from their Blackberries and Laptops. Then there were the chatty ones, not hesitant to approach random people.

As soon as the family of four moved from the front she wheeled her stuff towards the counter. A lady with heavily done blue eye make-up fake-smiled for that one second and got back to tapping the keyboard. She hauled her luggage on the conveyor belt and watched the numbers on the screen change. While the lady entered her passenger details and printed her boarding card, Amy looked around bored. She half-heard the guy next to her demand, “I want a window seat, and I would prefer an empty row, if there is one.” Freaking misanthrope, Amy thought. The person behind the counter gave in without protest. It must’ve been a non-rush hour, Amy mused.

She snapped her gum rather loudly than she intended to. The guy next to her sighed exasperatedly. “Whoa, sorry,” she said raising her hands in the air without looking at him. ” It’s not like I shot you to death.” She felt the guy staring at her point-blank. She waited impatiently for the lady to give her boarding pass, clicking her knuckles on the counter-top.

Unable to take it any longer she whipped around to face him. “What. . .” she asked him coldly, “ is your…” The words drowned out and she felt herself struggling to save herself from those same smoldering cold hazel eyes. She didn’t have to look away from them to figure out who he was. She felt her aura instantly connecting to his. Jake, had always been subconsciously trapped in the dark confinements of her mind, and now he’d just broken himself free.

She looked at him intently now, he’d changed minutely. It had been three years since she’d last seen him. His hair was now longer and reached below his collar. He wore a plain white shirt and faded denim. He looked unfazed and unbothered as always. The placid expression on his face frazzled her and drew her towards him. If she took a step further she would’ve been able to smell his Mont Blanc.
“Umm, hi,” she said. The guy nodded his head and walked away with his tickets. Screw it, she thought. He’d always been like that, not caring in the least bit. It was so hard to tell what he felt, it’s like he’d shut himself from the world and was so content with himself. She wouldn’t mind locking herself in with him…wouldn’t need anybody else. Just you and me, baby. Excuse me ma’am, the lady said. Amy grabbed her belongings and stashed them in her backpack. Her darn flight had been delayed and she had three hours until she boarded the aircraft. She mentally tried not to go where Jake went, although she felt connected to him and could locate him instantly amidst the milling crowd if anybody asked her to.

She went inside the book store and browsed through the best-sellers lined on the rack. She reached out to pick up The Host by Vampire Meyer. ” It’s a disappointment, here buy this instead” that familiar voice said. Jake was holding Brisingr, the third installment of the Eragon series. ” Oh thanks, I’ve read this already, she replied breathlessly, taking in the bright grin that he was now flashing at her. She could smell peppermint and freshly mowed grass and felt like somebody had whipped up Amortentia, the love potion from HP6.

Part II
Memories. They crawl unto you and pinch you in places where it hurts. A lot. They seep inside your soul, they make a comeback when you’re the happiest, or saddest or when you’re contemplating and have nothing else to do. They show themselves in the minutest of things, a fallen leaf, a blue car, a random book. ” So, how have you been, he asked snapping her out of her reverie.” Oh great, you know. What about you? Be interested, not interesting. She’d seen too many How to Make an Impression videos to know the basics. “I’ve been the same, he said running his fingers through his rumpled hair. They stood there for what seemed like hours looking at each other, not knowing what to say. Jake broke the silence.

“Look I got to go for my flight right now, but I’ll meet you once I land in Seattle, you’re arriving there 2 hours later right?”
“Yeah.”
“Amy?”
“Yeah?”
“I’ve missed you.”

He kissed her on her cheek and left before she could say anything else. She felt like everything around her moved in a whirlwind and it would take ages for what he said to sink in. The way he said it, upfront felt unrealistic.

Two hours later when her flight landed, she texted him asking where he was. There was a lot that needed to be explained. The entire thing felt surreal. The airport was in an extreme state of chaos than usual. The flurry of activity in it made her head spin and she realized she hadn’t had anything since her morning coffee. Suddenly a huge barrage of security officers marched right in; people were reacting in odd ways. She could swear she thought a few of them were crying. The plasma attached on the wall flashed the news of the power failure in the morning flight to Seattle. The plane had crashed while it was landing.

She had waited for three abnormally long years.
She had waited for three unending hours.
And now she had to wait for a lifetime.

Two days later
She reached out for that familiar looking white powder in her pocket, laid it out in three rows on the table and for the fourth time in two days and drowned her despair in dormant delusion until it blackened itself out.

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