Anticipation

I wrote this story two years back and completed it this March for a creative writing module at my college in Chennai. The challenge was to write it in 1,100 words. I managed to keep it to 1,082. Phew. Enjoy.

When you’re trapped in a room with someone that special after a long wait – it does not make sense to wait any longer. But, she loved anticipation. She sprawled herself over the red armchair, and watched him from across the sofa set and smiled because all she wanted was to bury herself in him.
If this were a movie, the male lead would get off the couch and go over to the girl and just kiss her. And, he wasn’t going to play anti-hero in his own story anymore.
He smiled back at her, kneeled down and held her face. He had never seen this face so close to him before. She had never been this close to him either. But before anything could happen, the penchant for drama got to her.
She got off the couch and pulled him to the centre of the dimly lit hotel room. She took eight steps back; leaving him at that point, confused. She held her hand up to stop him from moving towards her with a teasing smile. He hated that look when he had no idea what he was getting into. It was that look and his curiosity that got him here in the first place.
“You want to kiss me? Let’s play it off,” she said.
“Are we 12?” he said condescendingly.
Flatly she said, “Your ego is still probably stuck at 17. But let’s not get into that, shall we?”
Shit just got serious. He relaxed his ego and his posture. Watching him bend for her boosted hers. She smiled sweetly and continued explaining her plan.
“Take eight steps back.” He followed her instructions with the look on his face she had learnt so well.
“When we walk, we walk together. But with every second step we take, we have to declare a personal flaw. Not something the other person knows without it having been told, but something new. So, you cannot talk about how much you love eating cold food. We’re talking real character flaws here.”
“Then?”
“At the end of our eight steps, we can decide if we still want to go ahead with the kiss.”
“So we repel each other as much as we can, and then lean in for a kiss? I cannot decide if this is a bad popularity contest or a shrink’s office.”
“Neither,” she smiled, rubbing her hands in glee.
“Why?” he asked sadly.
“Anticipation is beautiful. You’ll know.” She toyed around with her skirt like a little girl and leaned to take a step forward. Her feet barely touched the carpet because of her excitement.
He gave in willingly.

One.
Two.
Stop.

“I am a very jealous person. I-“, she started as if she had rehearsed it forever.
“I already know that. You’ve told me and I remember telling you how flattering it is. Does not count.” He knew her well and he wanted to prove it.
“I am not your regular jealous human. I can hurt myself and a lot of other people (maybe even physically) when I get jealous. I thought you need to know,” she said with her head bowed down.
“I don’t know what you mean by physical harm. But, I am guessing you won’t tell. So, I’ll continue?”
She nodded her head and looked up to see his face with a wide smile on her face that did not reach her eyes.
“I am too practical for my own good. I lost out on many things because I feared running out to get what I wanted, I guess.” She wanted to ask him if that had anything to do with her. But, he never gave her the chance. He took a step forward and she could not be left behind.

Three.
Four.
Stop.
————————
Final year of college. He was up studying wondering if he’d ever pass. His laptop was on, playing a playlist he had long ago compiled for lonely nights like these. The ping of a new message distracted him. It was her. He wanted to talk, but he could not. He had to let go of it this time. She knew he had an exam. She’d get it, right? She always did. He lifted his fingers to say hello, but instead signed out. He knew he was making the right choice.
She did need him more. At least, that’s what she thought. He did not even have to sit and console her tonight. She understood. But, why did he have to run away like that? He did not even say goodbye! All this overthinking drove her crazy. She could not breathe without breathing fire. So, she picked up her pillow and screamed into it. She yelled how much she needed him and how he was not there. When she realised the pillow was not him, but an abyss she threw her words into – she threw the pillow to the other end of the room with a roar.

————————
They smiled.

“My anger can drive me insane. I don’t always let it show. I don’t know why I never let you know till now. Some days I do want to stab you in the eye.” Her smile never left her face. He was glad she told him that. It made her more human than angel for now. Maybe she did care.
“I take things for granted… Things and people that I should not. I prioritise and don’t realise I am hurting people. I guess I trust them to be there for me when I am back. I wonder if everyone is that lucky, you know?” he said.
Another veil was lifted. Another look was exchanged.
Five.
Six.
“Stop.”
He had spoken.
The orange light shone on the sides of their faces. It was as if the lights from hell and heaven set them apart from their own selves. He stormed right up to her face and stopped. She would have stepped back, but she was tired of the distance. The closed curtains isolated them from the world outside. It was just them and this game. They didn’t know why they needed to play at all. College, careers and silly games had kept them apart for eight years already.
She was angry, jealous, caring, tempting and gave him every reason to love her.
He was practical, took her for granted, warm, tempting and gave her every reason to love him.
The anticipation didn’t die.
It was the snake that wrapped them together in their Eden

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