Another version of this short story from male protagonist's point of view has been published later on Straight From The Heart. Read it here : Kevin's version of Meant To Be
“Are you sure you can walk?” Kevin ask me
“Are you sure you can walk?” Kevin ask me
No. I want you to carry me in your arms, over the threshold, tonight and every day and night after tonight, I think to myself. Aloud I manage a simple “Yes”
The girl sitting next to him seems to relax by my reply. Not because she cares about me, only because she is glad she can now have Kevin all to herself.
I turn around without as much as a thank you or good night. Bad manners, I know but I cannot help it, I do not want Kevin to see the pained expression on my face, thanks to both – the pain shooting up from the sprained ankle as well as the pain of my heart shattering into pieces. I cannot complain that life did not give me my chance; it did but I did not take it when the time was right for everything because I wanted more than what life had to offer. I had never imagined that life would put that chance on a silver plate and offer it to someone else. I was never the jealous types, I thought, until it really happened. Until the day, Mel picked up the chance from the silver plate, leaving me with no choice but to regret my decision.
With all the strength that I can manage I walk towards the gate of the apartment, aware that Kevin is still watching me because I did not hear him start the ignition. I want him to see that I am capable of taking care of myself but the very next moment I lose my balance and fall flat on my butt, a loud “Fuck” escaping my lips as the seat of my jeans gets soaked in the dirty water leaking out from a drainage pipe nearby.
Everything happens simultaneously –
The sprained ankle unable to bear my weight, twists, my knees buckle, my sandals drop from my hand, I am about to land on my butt, the door of the car opens and Kevin runs towards me to stop the impact, but it is too late. I not only ruin my jeans but splash the water over his shoes and jeans.
“Are you alright?” he asks offering his hand which I take without looking at him. Too embarrassed to admit that I am on the verge of crying, I nod as he puts his other hand around my waist to support me. He does not leave my hand and I am glad. I cling to him; cling to the hope that he would walk me to my apartment. As if hearing my unspoken plea he turns towards Mel and asks her to wait for him as he walks me to my house. I am sure she is upset about the new development. The inner me smiles. I feel him tighten his grip over me and I take it as a clue to start walking but what happens next takes me by surprise though this was what I had exactly hoped for, a while ago. He bends down picks up my sandals and then picks me up in his arms. My wet jeans dripping dirty water over his jeans but he is least bothered which makes me be less bothered by how wet my seat feels and the stink that’s unbearable.
He walks me in through the gate, past the sleeping security guard and towards the elevator, only to read the out of order board placed in front of it.
“Wow” he exclaims, as he begins climbing the stairs.
“Put me down, I can climb the stairs if you support me on the broken side.” I say, half-heartedly.
“This way would be quicker. Mel’s waiting for me.” He says and I am not sure whether to be happy that he would be carrying me in his arms for all of the three floors or be sad that he wants this to get over so that he can be with Mel.
He is out of breath as he stands in front of my flat and I take out the keys from my jean pocket and hand it over to him. He takes the key without a word and opens the door, carries me over the threshold (the inner me dances triumphantly) and walks straight to the bedroom. He is about to put me down on the bed but then he realizes I need to change and wash before I can get into the bed. He looks around the house, searching for something that I can use as a support to move around so that he can get going but seeing that there is really nothing I can lean on, he sighs.
I can feel his frustration and I do not like it (the inner me pouts).
“Seriously, I can manage. You must go now” I say and expect him to refuse. He smiles and after hesitating for a while he moves towards the door, halts and walks back in towards the dining table and brings in a chair that I can use to move around. I thank him and he leaves. I close my eyes and heave a deep sigh. Dragging the chair across the floor, I walk towards the bathroom and run a hot water bath and as the tub fills with hot water, I get out of my clothes using the same chair to rest my butt, which aches as it comes in contact with the chair. I turn off the water and step into the tub, using my good foot first. I wince with pain as the sprained ankle, now twice the original size, comes in contact with hot water. I slid down until I am neck deep in the tub. I feel the muscles of my body relaxing as I feel the hot water caressing my body. The initial pain of the hot water sting now gone, my sprained ankle feels better. I close my eyes and rest my head on the headrest.
Unaware of how much time has passed, I wake up startled when I hear a sound, the sound of the front door opening. It is too late to realize that the door of the bathroom is wide open. Obviously, I was not expecting anyone, least expecting someone to barge in through the front door without ringing the bell. I am sure Kevin had locked the door behind him, or had he? I wonder. I am not up to the mark to get up swiftly, get dressed and walk out. It would be too foolish of me to shout “who is it?” and attract attention of whoever has walked in the house. I am not in a decent state for that. I manage to sit straight and supporting myself with my hands over the sides of the tub, I stand and then slowly step out of the tub, grabbing a towel from over the shelf at the same time. I am half-done wrapping the towel around my wet body when suddenly I see Kevin standing at the door of the bathroom, his eyes taking in my wet body for a while before turning around muttering a sorry and walking out. I grab the chair and drag it out to the bedroom. Kevin is standing at the bedroom door, his back to me.
“I am sorry” he repeats as he hears me coming out of the bathroom. “I know I should have not used the key to come in, but I thought you might be sleeping. I forgot the key in my jean pocket and just wanted to return it without really disturbing you.” He adds.
I drag myself towards the wardrobe and mutter an “it is okay” as I pick out my favorite stripped PJ and a T-shirt to go with it but change my mind. PJ and Kevin in the house, wrong combination, I tell myself. What the heck? My inner self complains. As if, he has never seen you in a PJ before! My inner self says with hands on hips. I have to agree. I take out the clothes and close the wardrobe. When I turn around I catch Kevin staring at me. Me in a towel, my inner self grins!
“I will wait outside.” He is halfway out of the door before finishing his sentence. I smile, no, I grin, ear to ear. I quickly put on my clothes and shout “come in” at the closed bedroom door, aware that Kevin is waiting just outside. The door opens immediately, just like I had expected and Kevin steps in.
“Actually, I could not leave you in the condition you were in.” he confesses.
I am not sure what to make of it. I do not know how to respond to it. I continue looking at him and find him staring at me in return.
He smiles. I smile. Then follows the awkward moment when no one says anything. He breaks the silence, “Let’s do something about your ankle” and walks to the medicine drawer and pulls out a painkiller gel, turns around and smiles again. My heart melts, my inner self starts dancing. I pretend not to be affected. “I was about to do it after the bath but…” I stop midsentence, visualizing the scene – me wrapping myself in a towel and Kevin staring at me. I clear my throat and extend my hand to take the tube from him. He hesitates but finally hands me the tube and I am about to drag myself to the bed when Kevin steps forward and supports me. There are two things I can do at this moment. Push him away or let him carry me to the bed. I know I really want the later but half-heartedly I push him away and immediately his lips are on mine. And, the next moment I hear my name being called. I turn to look towards the voice and find Kevin standing at the door staring at me. I am clutching the chair tightly and the grip hurts. I loosen the grip and a moment later I realize I have been day dreaming.
“What happened to you? I was standing outside the door waiting for you to call me in.”
I exhale a sorry and start pushing the chair towards the bed. Almost immediately Kevin is by my side offering his arm as support. Unlike my day-dream, I do not push him. He sits me on the bed and walks to the medicine drawer and pulls out the painkiller gel.
“Let’s do something about your ankle” He tells me and I close my eyes.
I had meant to stop him from coming close to me but before I can think and react, I feel his fingers on my ankle, massaging the gel. It feels good. His presence in my room, his hand on my body and his not being with Mel, it all feels good. Immediately, I feel guilty for thinking like this, only the Mel part. I am okay with the rest of the thoughts. He deserves to be with Mel because I had refused to allow him to be with me when he wanted to.
“What happened to your plan with Mel?” I ask.
“Postponed” that is all I can get out of him. Why do I even care, I think. Awkward silence.
“See, if you do not want me here, I can leave.” He says without looking at me but I can feel it that he is upset.
“I want you to stay” I tell him and I mean it. I want him to stay. Forever. Wish, that could be possible!
“Are you not going to tell me more about Mel?” I ask. I want to know, really want to know how he feels about her even though I have seen with my own eyes how their bodies had joined together in a dance that was more than a dance, in the party we had just returned from. The party, where I had pulled a stunt, sprained my ankle and landed straight on my butt. Jealousy, it can make you do things you have never done. I do not remember dancing ever, not since school days when my friend had listed me in a group dance and the entire group had wasted their precious practice hours to get me to move my waist. But, here, at the party, I danced as if I was born to dance. I danced with the man I had never seen before. I let him touch me the way no one had ever touched me. I had humiliated myself thoroughly, seeking Kevin’s attention, and that I succeeded to get when the man I was dancing with shifted his hand from my waist to my bottom and I pushed him away, losing my balance in the process. Normally, I would have been able to pull myself together, get back the balance but this time I could not because I was drunk. Kevin had then helped me stand and walk out of the party.
“Seriously?” Kevin’s sarcastic comment brings me back to the present.
“You ask me something and you don’t even care to listen?” He complains.
I am embarrassed. I never wanted to give him the impression that I did not care. Actually, I did not want him to get the impression that I cared. But –
“Sorry” I apologize and look deep into his eyes, hoping he will tell me what he had been saying while I was re-living the earlier humiliation.
“The stunt that you pulled at the party, that was totally uncalled for.” Kevin points out instead of telling me about Mel. I remain silent and look anywhere but in his eyes. I don’t want to cry. I want to cry, provided he would hold me.
“All you had to do was ask” he says and I look up startled. He stares into my eyes and then his mobile rings. Just like that, the moment ends. He checks the display and I cannot help but take a peek at the display myself. Mel. He walks out of the room as he talks. Obviously, he does not want me listening. That venomous feeling erupts again, making me choke on my tears. I close my eyes and a single tear finally rolls down on the pillow. Shit. Not now. It’s a wrong time to cry. I open my eyes and I am about to wipe the tears that have now gathered in my eyes challenging to follow the first tear but it is late. Kevin is back and is watching me. I smile and the tears jump. I begin to sob. Kevin rushes to my side and holds me in his arms. “I just could not” he whispers. I do not understand what he means but I do not care. All that matters to me is that he is holding me in his arms. It feels good. Sometimes, being selfish is good. He holds me at an arm’s distance and asks “since when?” and I know what he is asking.
“After Mel happened to you.” I confess. He nods.
“I knew it at the party. You were drunk but not so much as to throw yourself at any random guy. That dance, those body moves with that man, all that was for getting my attention, right?” He asks though he already knows the answer.
“All you had to do was ask.” He repeats and the moment is back. I look in his eyes and see his love for me still shining bright.
“By the way. Mel never happened.” He smiles as I look surprised.
“I have my own moves, you see?” he says and winks and I smile. I cry. He moves closer, his lips close to mine, his eyes seeking permission. I nod and the next moment his mouth covers mine and we kiss passionately. I don’t want the moment to pass but it has to. To move on to the next, we have to let go of the last. And, we move on to the next moment, exploring our new world together, the world that was always meant to be.