I slowly drove down the quiet road while looking around and taking everything in. The place looked familiar, but the changes were noticeable. The number of trees were lesser, roads wider, buildings taller, more cars parked around the place, but it still felt peaceful. The queasiness in my stomach kept increasing as I knew I was approaching nearer and nearer. Taking a deep breath as a train passed by on the tracks parallel to the road, I remembered feeling the same way ten years back; when I first came here. Making sure I had my sunglasses on, and a scarf around my neck, I drove up to the line of shops on the left side. Two of them on the left were provision stores, and a steep slope in the middle which I knew was the entrance to the house, parted them from a supermarket on the other side.
I stopped at the store just before the slope, and took another deep breath before locking the car and getting out.
“You can do this” I kept telling myself in my head. “No one is going to recognise you. It’s been ten years. He doesn’t even remember you.”
While walking up to the store, I took out the map and tried to look around discreetly as the chilly winter wind blew through my hair, completely messing it up
The man sitting at the counter looked up as I walked up to him and cleared my throat, his grey eyes piercing through mine, immediately bringing back memories.
“May I help you?” He asked in a deep, manly voice. It was nothing like how I remembered it to be. I scrutinised him through my dark sunglasses. He looked like the same skinny, lean person with thin lips and shiny eyes, except for the addition of a few tattoos and piercings. His arms looked more muscular under his black shirt, which accentuated his pale skin even more.
“Can you guide me to SJI School please? I’m kind of lost” I asked hesitantly.
“Of course” he said taking the map from me and pointing to one spot. “It’s is where’s you are now and that’s where the school is …”
I looked at him closely. His fingers, his thin hands and his eyes as he kept looking up to make sure I had understood everything he was saying. He had the same helpful nature I could remember him having. It was what I had liked the best in him. How he helped people without expecting a single thing in return. I wondered where his parents were, if they were still there. He looked tired, like he hadn’t been sleeping.
“…And take a left and you’ll reach the school” he said looking up at me.
“Thanks so much” I said smiling, pretending like I’d listened to everything he’d said. “That was of great help. Thanks” I said enthusiastically.
“You should probably get something for the road, it’s not very close” he said standing up straight. “And you really look like you could eat something”
“Um, alright then. I’ll have a Dairy Milk” I said handing him the money. “The small one” I added when I saw him picking the huge packet of the chocolate.
He smiled and handed me the chocolate with the change. I thanked him and walked away slowly, wondering what I should do now.
My mind was still hazy from all the thoughts, and recollections of the past. So I crossed my car and walked up ahead to the tracks, deciding to get a bit of fresh air before heading off again. Standing in the weed and grass, taking deep breaths of fresh air, and the sun shining down brightly on me, suddenly made me forget where I was. As I was about to take off my scarf, I remembered what I was doing.
“Just to warn you, there are a lot of cockroaches in the grass there” a voice shouted to me from across the road. Even though I was wearing full jeans and knee-length boots, the thought of them crawling around, still terrified me. I hurried down to my car.
“Still terrified of them huh?” I heard the voice question me from across my car, just as I was about to get in.
As if my heart wasn’t beating fast enough, I felt it hammering my chest loudly, making me wonder if he could hear it across the car.
“Excuse me?” I smiled politely at him.
“You’ve lost a bunch of weight, but your hairs the same. So are your hands and probably your eyes too. You still don’t listen to a word I say but pretend like you do anyway. And you still wear the same ring you used to” he said in his deep voice.
He smiled his smile, to show me that he knew. He knew me and why I had come back after all these years, and he smiled because he knew that it would make my heart skip a beat. Like it always did when he smiled, that smile.
Please let me know what you think of the fictional story, in the comments below 🙂