I think I love him.
Or maybe I don’t.
Do I love him?
“I think we should break up, Rudi.”
He looked up at me, surprise writ large on his face. But, I can’t tell if that surprise hides his relief or his broken heart.
“But, why?” he asks. And I’m still unable to get a reading of what he’s feeling.
“I don’t think I feel anything for you anymore,” I gave it to him frankly. I didn’t believe in beating around the bush on such matters.
His eyebrows rose at my bluntness and I found myself thinking that he should be used to it by now.
“Ar-are you sure?” he asked.
I wished Lucy was with me. She could always read him like a book. But, she moved to a different city after college and the last time I spoke to her was more than a month ago. I wondered how often Rudi spoke to her. Probably every other week. I suppressed the surprising stab of jealousy that that thought produced.
“Yes,” I nodded decisively.
He took a deep breath and nodded. Then, with a smile and a wave, Rudi walked out of my life.
“Aren’t you Lu-Lu-Lucy?” I leaned against the bar and touched the elbow of the young lady ordering her drink.
She whipped around with her eyes wide and lips parted and threw herself at me.
“You bastard! Why didn’t you call?” she shrieked.
I laughed and squeezed my best friend tight.
“Hello to you too, Lucy-girl!”
“I can’t believe Rudoofus is in my town!” she let go of me for a minute to rake her eyes all over my face. “So, where’s Dee?”
I swallowed, “We broke up,” I said softly.
“Oh!” she let go of me. “How are you then?” she tilted her head to the side and fixed me with that Lucy-look I remembered from college.
I chuckled. “Surprisingly fine, actually,” I replied.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” I nodded to emphasize how fine I was, “I think it was just time for us,” I shrugged.
She shook her head, “No change at all,” she muttered and grinned. And that moment, something shifted between us. Both of us felt it and this time, we went with it.
“Well then,” she clutched my hand, “drinks are on me tonight,” and she dragged me to the cosiest booth in the bar.
That night ended with both of us stumbling into her apartment, drunk and kissing each other hungrily.
It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The passion, the fire, the symphony of our bodies; there was no Lucy, no Rudi; there was only the ecstasy, the lust, the need of two bodies melding together and making magic.
The next morning I woke up feeling better than I had felt on any morning in the last 10 years. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started writing. I went on writing for what seemed like hours. Every time I would get stuck, I would look at her, sleeping peacefully, a strand of her hair dancing across her face, her lips slightly parted, her shoulder sloping down into the blanket mesmerizingly and the early morning light giving her a celestial glow. She was my muse, my inspiration and when her eyes opened, I felt like a little kid watching his favourite toy come alive.
That morning, I wasn’t of this earth and nor was she.
“I asked her to marry me,” his voice came over the phone.
My breath caught and burnt in my chest. No sound escaped my lips as anger clouded my eyes until the wall in front of me swayed out of focus.
“Lucy…?” his voice tore into my subconscious the way it always had the ability to.
“Y-yes…I…” I swallowed and blinked, “Congratulations, Rudi,” I forced myself to say.
“I just wanted you to be the first to know,” he said softly, as if he wished that would make up for the world of hurt he was causing me right now.
“I’m honoured,” I could no longer keep the ice out of my voice and I knew, even over the phone, that I had succeeded in hurting him.
“I love her, Lucy!” soft had turned sharp now, but, if he thought I cared…
I wanted to yell, scream at him that I didn’t care; that I could care less who he married or loved. But, why should I lie? I did care. I cared so much that it hurt and involuntarily, I winced.
“I…” I muttered, “I know. Listen, I’ve to go. I’ll talk to you later,” and I hung up.
The lump in my chest had forced its way into my throat now and tears were beginning to fall. I wiped my tears roughly with the back of my hand, grabbed my keys and left the house.
“Lucy! He proposed!” Dee’s excited voice filled the car with its exuberance.
I swallowed the fresh bout of tears threatening to fall over and schooled my voice to match her happiness. As much as I could.
“Congratulations Dee!” I sounded warm enough.
“Hey! Are you ok? You don’t sound so good,” Dee remained Dee even over the phone. I laughed bitterly.
“I’m fine,” I assured her, “just driving and this traffic is a snarl!”
“Oh! Then, give me a call when you reach…wherever you’re going, ok?” she said, “and drive safe. You’re going to be my maid of honour!” I could picture her smiling brightly with those wide, concerned eyes. A fresh lump clogged my throat until I could hardly stammer out a goodbye. My vision blurred with renewed tears and all my bitterness concentrated into my foot on the accelerator. I shot forward into the traffic and the last thing I saw was a bright flash before it all went black.
It was dark; very dark; pitch black all around. I opened my mouth to call out, but no sound came out. Panic was building rapidly in my chest and that’s when the pain hit. It felt like my entire body was on fire, and being ripped shred to shred. I could feel my heart thudding hard against my rib cage and suddenly, air rushed into my throat and I screamed.
“She’s awake! She’s awake!” I could hear people calling, running feet.
“Lucy…Luce…can you open your eyes?”
I know that voice. But, what is Dee doing here?
“Lu…Lucy…can you hear me?”
A deeper voice. I know this voice too! Rudi is here! Panic subsides in lieu of the bubbling happiness.
I feel something cool pressing against my eyes and then, I realize that I can open them.
The world slowly comes into focus. I see Dee bending over me, watching me with her wide concerned eyes. For some reason, looking at those eyes is making me cry. Rudi is on my other side, sitting on the edge of the bed and rubbing circles on the back of my hand. But, behind his concern, I can detect a layer of guilt. Why is he guilty, I wonder, and why is his guilt making me so angry?
At that moment, a white-clad toothy lady walks into the room with a…doctor?
“Wh-where am I? What happened?” I croak.
Dee and Rudi look towards the doctor worriedly.
“This is normal after such trauma,” he says calmly, “You were in a car accident. Do you remember when you were last driving?” he asked me.
A flash of bright light-screech of tires-people screaming….and suddenly, I remember exactly when I was driving and why I was driving. I reflexively pull my hand out of Rudi’s grip and immediately feel bad for the hurt I see on his face.
“I was driving…yes…I remember,” I say raspingly.
“Good. Good. Now, there was extensive damage to your left leg in the accident and we had to take drastic measures to ensure that no infection would spread. Your friend here was your emergency contact and she signed the consent-”
“D-drastic measures?” the panic building in my chest suddenly made sense and I looked from the doctor to Dee, frightened.
“Lucy, honey, I’m very sorry, they had to amputate it,” my best friend had tears in her eyes as she tried to understand what I must be going through.
But, all I could think about was the green twirly dress I was wearing when I met Rudi in the bar that day and how I would never be able to wear it again. A great sense of unfairness welled up inside me and made my throat hurt.
“I…thank you, doctor,” I murmured, “Can I sleep now?”
“Yes. Yes,” he walked out and I closed my eyes and waited for the pitch black oblivion to claim me.
Chapter 4 coming up soon