Most of the time it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks. But, sometimes, it does and that is when I wonder what it is about this person that makes him so special; and one day, while I’m wondering thus, I realise that I’m in love with him.
When did it happen? How did it happen? I do not know. I didn’t know about the journey I was making until it landed me smack dab in the middle of my destination. I’m in love with him.
Until last week, this would have been an easy equation. But, over the last week, the boy has become a couple and the couple was now out on a date that I had convinced them to go on. Wondering at my own stupidity, I flung the empty packet of chips aside and was just reaching for a new one when the door opened and my roommate bounded in, looking too happy to be acceptable on any planet that I was a part of.
“Chips!” she screamed and snatched them out of my hand. “No more chips, Lucy! You promised me!”
I looked at her blandly.
“I’m depressed,” I stated and held my hand out for my salty deliverance.
She didn’t oblige. But, she did come and put her arm around me.
“Why? What happened?” she asked, her eyes wide and full of concern.
I melted into her arms. “I’m in love,” I groaned from somewhere near her armpit.
“Oh!” she gasped. I don’t think she ever expected to hear those exact words from me.
“Who is it?” she whispered. I didn’t know why she was whispering, but, it felt right for the moment.
“Your boyfriend…” I whispered back slowly.
“My boyfriend? Rudi, you mean? My that boyfriend Rudi?” she exclaimed, forgetting to whisper.
Suddenly her arm felt suffocating and my chest constricted. All and any voice died in my throat and I could give only a dismal nod.
“Oh honey!” she sighed and tightened her arm around me, “What do you think we should do now, Lucy?”
And just as suddenly, my chest cleared and I could breathe again. I found my voice and along with that came the realization, that however special the boy was, my friend was way, way more special. I made myself look up and meet her eyes,
“Don’t worry, Dee,” I said with conviction, “I’m not going to mess anything up. Give me a few days and the library and I would’ve forgotten all about it.”
She still looked troubled.
“You know me, Dee,” I assured her again, “All my feelings come with an expiry date,” I grinned.
After a while she spoke, “I really like him, Luce,” she was back to whispering, “But, I don’t love him. Not yet. So, if you want me to break up with him….”
“No!” I sat up straight, “Dee, look at me. I’m not the one Rudi likes. You like him and he likes you. It’s a match made! All this feelings shit- that’s my problem and I’ll deal with it. I shouldn’t even have told you. Me and my big mouth, I tell you!”
A tear made its way down my best friend’s cheek. “I’m sorry, Luce, I really am,” she said softly.
“You have nothing to be sorry about, Honeypot,” I used the much-detested nickname in the hopes of easing a smile out of her, “I’m sorry for ever bringing it up.”
It worked. She gave me a watery smile.
“You’ll be fine? You are sure?” she asked one final time.
“Yes!” I asserted and we never talked about it again.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Lucy, come on!”
“Go away, Rudi!”
“You love me!”
Lucy finally stopped walking and turned around.
“Where did you hear that nonsense?”
“Dee told me.”
Lucy’s eyes narrowed. “Just how drunk was she?”
“A lot,” I shrugged. “Is it true?” I couldn’t hold it in.
“Would you believe everything a drunk chick tells you?” she countered.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I bridged the gap between us in three swift steps.
“There was nothing to tell, Rudi,” she bit out.
“I’m not a liar!” she snapped, turning away from me. “Now can we drop this topic?”
I ran around so that she would have to look at me again. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I could hear the whine in my own voice.
She sighed loudly and dropped down to the ground in a huff.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I demanded even louder, dropping down in front of her and ignoring the weird looks we were getting for sitting down in the middle of the walkway.
“What was I supposed to say?” she muttered after a minute of silence, “Hey Rudi! I know you’re dating my best friend and all, but fuck all that because I’m in love with you!” she mocked herself in a falsely cheery voice.
I winced. “Ok, maybe not like that…” and they fell into silence again.
“But, you told Dee!” I said finally, “So, why couldn’t you tell me?”
“Because my mouth was only big enough for one stupid mistake at a time!” she snapped.
“Luce, But- But it wouldn’t have been a mistake! What did you think? I would break up with you for being inappropriate?”
“Friends don’t get to break up. They wait until the tension builds and then drift apart,” Lucy hugged the copy of I capture the castle in her hands to her chest and sighed.
“You’re stupid, Lu. For all your smarts, you’re a stupid, stupid person.”
“Shut up, Rudoofus!”
I chuckled and got to my feet, then extended my hand to help up my best friend. “Read that book,” I advised her straightening form, “Finish it tonight and we’ll talk about this again tomorrow. No!” I silenced her protesting mouth with a finger to her lips, “Meet Cassandra, talk to her and think it out. If, in spite of that, you don’t want to talk about this, then we’ll just talk about the book,” I gave her one of my “disarming” smiles.
We picked up our walk again, the silence between us coloured with her anger and my anxiety that maybe I pushed her too far with my persistence.
“Promise me that we’ll discuss the book?” we were at the branch off to our separate hostels and Lucy’s voice piped up with an oddly hopeful note.
I couldn’t hold back the smile that burst upon my face in relief.
“Anytime Lu. I promise.”
I had my best friend back.
Lucy’s father passed away last Friday, quietly in his sleep.
They called it a massive heart attack. They said it wasn’t common in 50 year olds, but it wasn’t unheard of either. They held the funeral on Sunday and buried him beside her mother. Now, it was Friday again. Lucy hasn’t cried a tear since then. Neither did she sleep through a single night.
She has taken to reading I Capture the Castle throughout the night. She’d start it in bed and finish it by next morning. The next night she would start it again and finish it again by next morning. I’ve taken to staying up with her. I work on my thesis. She reads her book. The light stays on all night.
“I’m going to join you guys tonight,” Rudi says on that Friday evening.
“How?” I ask him softly so as not to disturb the dozing Lucy next to me.
“Bring her out. I found a way on to the auditorium’s roof.” He replies, “It’s beautiful out there at night time.”
I furrow my brows and give him a searching look.
He rubs the nape of his neck uncomfortably. “I…haven’t been getting much sleep either,” he mutters.
It was difficult convincing Lucy to come out. She clutched that book to her chest and stared at me with wide panicky eyes. Finally, I packed a book lamp in my bag, took her hand firmly in mine and dragged her out. Her book was still clutched to her chest.
Rudi was already on the roof when we got there. He climbed down, took one look at Lucy and took her into his arms. Slowly, the book came away from her chest and her small frame curled into him. We didn’t climb to the roof that night. We sat on the grass outside. I worked on my thesis. She read her book. He stared at the stars.
It was on our third night out that the silence was shattered at 3 in the morning with the ringing of my phone. My breath hitched. Rudi and Lucy were staring at my phone with a kind of fascinated revulsion.
“I’m sorry, Dee-dee.”
That night my sister died. She jumped off of our roof and fractured her skull on our driveway. They put her in the ICU for 12 hours during which my parents claimed to have no knowledge of their younger daughter’s suicidal tendencies and during which I went through every what-if in my head. Lucy held me for all those 12 hours as I drenched her shirt with my tears. She talked me through my anger and she stood with me as I said my final goodbyes to the last member of my family that I’d cared about.
I think I cried more over the next few days than I ever had in my life. Mostly on Lucy’s shoulder and sometimes, on Rudi’s. Three days later, we were back on the campus and that night, we met at the roof again. This time, we did climb up to the top.
And there on the roof, where the only thing between the cold ground and the starry sky were the shoulders of my new family and her only family, Lucy finally cried.
Chapter 3 coming up by 01 Dec ’15