"The Present"

Upon careful observation, her reflection revealed to her the following:

In the two years since she met with him last, a grey hair had sprouted. It was defiant and never invisible. A new pimple on her left cheek, scars of old ones. An allergy that erupted often, leaving behind angry looking skin. Worry lines that weren’t there before. Her face was different, the sorrow had taken root and blurred the contours.

She then spent several minutes deciding what she should wear. Something she felt confident in, looked good in, something she knew he liked.

She arrived a few minutes early. Her stomach lurched, as though she were in a roller-coaster perched at the highest point, and was about to come hurtling down. She couldn’t sit still. Her head jerked towards the road every twenty seconds. She tugged her hair, curling it with her index finger, pulling at it until a strand came free.

She wondered what momentous things they would speak of, if they would hug as soon as they saw each other. In her imagination, she always cried. They were tears of joy and they were outpourings of the frustration she experienced in their time apart.

Upon careful observation, his reflection revealed to him the following:

In the two years since he met with her last, he had become older, softer, the hair at his temples now flecked with more white than before. He stood staring at his wardrobe – perhaps the bright blue shirt he bought recently, or the dark blue one he knew she’d like. He trimmed his beard, he’d been tending to it the past week, in anticipation of this day. As he put on his shoes, the shoes he expected her to chastise him for – far too expensive, she’d exclaim – he paused for a minute. His body wouldn’t settle. He tapped his feet and bit his nails, and looked at his tired eyes in the mirror. They told stories of sleepless nights and travels that took him across time zones.

He saw her before she saw him. He noticed the shape of her head, the length of her neck as she turned, the fingers in her lap as she cracked her knuckles. She saw him. He watched her as she rose and walked towards him, and she hugged him as though she did it every day, even as he worried that they might be strangers to each other by now. She laughed and cried, and led him to the seats by the window in the coffee shop. They sat next to each other, the proximity familiar and new all at once. It was too much, and too little.

They spoke of the weather and the traffic, the long flight he’d just taken. They argued a bit about what to order as the barista looked on impatiently. There were no momentous things to speak of.

As she walked back home, she thought nothing had changed. She was wrong though. On her face was a smile that wouldn’t quit.

About the author:

I am a mediocre engineer, tea lover, connoisseur of smells. I spend many hours reading and catching up with popular culture. I spend fewer hours writing, but I hope to keep working on my craft.

You can find me @anusrini20 on both Twitter and Instagram. I blog at anusrini20.wordpress.com

Anusha Srinivasan