He called her.
It had been months since she heard his voice. The last she heard it was this one cold day of December when smoke muffled it and clustered their thoughts and that too she owed to someone else.
That’s what he said. It wasn’t an exclamation, it wasn’t even a greeting. It was like picking up something exactly from where it’d been left off.
“Hi....” she stuttered.
They spoke about general things and yet there was something different in the air. He inquired about the time. She said it was sometime after five. He said damn, it’s late, maybe he should call another time. She said no, it was the perfect time.
There were awkward silences filled up by sighs and pauses.
“You’re quieter than you used to be. Is this what, what’shisname has done to you?”
“No. I don’t know what to say really..”
“Since when do you need help in talking baby?”
That statement sent shivers down her spine, goosebumps on her body.
“I’m not your baby anymore.”
“But you used to be. You know you always will be.”
“No I won’t actually. I like someone else. I’m seeing him! I fucking love him.”
“Does you really?”
She didn’t want the awkward silence to bite at her insides again and he obliged her with his laugh.
“You’re scared he’ll leave you, aren’t you?”
She was still trying to form the words., wanting desperately to say something which would tell him just how wrong he was but somehow all that formed were half-sewn sentences in her head, which were stitched so loosely, they never made it out.
“You know I know you. You know I’m here now. Why are you still running away?”
“Because you left!” she intended to whisper it but it came out as a yell. She hadn’t even meant to say it out loud at all.
“I know. Sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t fix everything.”
“But my sorry always did. You know you can’t say no to me.”
“What do you want from me?”
Now she was yelling, she couldn’t help it.
“I want you. It’s simple. You know it’s the right thing to do. Let the other guy be. I can’t promise I won’t make you cry again but I’ll be there to take care of you afterwards.”
“Is that it? Is that what you say to me after two years?”
“Oh no. I almost forgot. I love you.”
He’d known just what to say and when. He said the words she’d been aching to hear, though it wasn’t him she’d been wanting to hear them from.
When only silence greeted his confession, he said, “Come on. I know it. You feel the same way too. Drop the pretence already. Why do you always have to chase the wrong people at the wrong time? You know it’ll end up hurting you only. You know he’ll end up breaking you.”
There was something wrong about this conversation. She could feel it since the start but she could just not place it. She finally decided to say it all out even though she’d vowed he was not even worth her words anymore. She decided to break one more vow for him.
“I loved you, it’s true. But I don’t anymore. I’ll spend my life convincing everyone now it feels. Because nobody believes it...” he cut her off saying, “nobody believes you because it’s not true.”
“Listen to me. Just shut up and listen. I don’t. I know it breaks your little bubble of whatever it was, imagination, wishful thinking or hope. I gave you everything I had and you broke me in unimaginable ways. You think I’ll go through all that pain again with the person I’m seeing? Maybe I will. But I will most definitely not go through all that pain with you ever again.”
“But he doesn’t love you like I do.”
“And neither do you. But the difference now is that I love him.”
“He’ll leave you too. Once he knows you enough, he’ll leave. It’s just a matter of time. You know it's true. Somewhere inside of you, you know it is.”
Her voice cracked with tears and she could feel herself choke. She felt she was drowning and she needed to come up for air but she just somehow couldn't.
That was when she awoke with a start.
It was queer as to how real this dream felt. She looked around to check her phone.
1:19 p.m. and some pings.
She checked to see if there had been a call. There was. Was this why the tears on her cheeks were still fresh?
She didn't even know which bits were real and which bits she had imagined. She never remembered a dream as well as she remembered this one. Did that mean there was something in it she was supposed to comprehend and work out on her own? A hint she was supposed to take?
As all his sentences came flowing back to her, especially the last, she realized that even if it was all just a dream it had been a one which she'd dreamt for preparing her for the reality that was soon to unfold.