Another version of this short story from female protagonist's point of view was previously published on Straight From The Heart. Read it here : Megha's version of Meant To Be
She was drunk. Not ‘I-will-puke-any-moment’ too drunk but nevertheless she was drunk. This was the second time she had taken drinks. First was when we had celebrated our graduation. Things were different then.
We were friends. I wanted to be more than friends. We were alone in her house, the house her father had bought for her. I visited her often, sometimes even stayed overnight but the couch in the living room was always my bed. Graduation night was different. That night I crossed my limits and entered her bedroom. A couple of glasses of champagne and she was already drunk enough to kiss me. I had taken that as a hint. I knew I should have not. All my emotions channeled into the kiss, I had given her a part of myself. I should have waited. She had big plans. She wanted to achieve a lot many more things in life than fall in love, get married and start a family. I had my own plans but they were simple. A good job, decent house and marrying the girl I loved. I was ready to wait, I had decided to wait but the moment, the closeness was too much to handle. She had taken the initiative to kiss and I had lost control. For me, to know that she loved me was enough to survive a few more years and watch her achieve whatever she aimed to achieve before settling in life. But, after a few breathless moments which followed the passionate kissing, she told me that it was a mistake and then she puked on my shirt. Just like that - the moment was over. After getting her cleaned up I had helped her get into the bed. I had removed his own shirt to wash and then slid next to her, propped up on my elbow, watching her sleep. I loved her and would always love her. Sometime later, I had fallen asleep but was awakened in the middle of the night because of the movement in bed. Megha had shifted close to me and I could now feel her warm breath on my neck, her arm rested on my bare chest. I had to get up, I knew. I tried to shift without waking her up but she opened her eyes and I could not move. The mesmerizing eyes held me in a state of trance and I could not move even when she started kissing me again. The soft wet lips moving from my neck to my jawline and finally resting on my lips. My heart started to race and my breathing became fast and shallow. I wanted this, I had always wanted this. I did not want her to stop and had kissed her back, once again pouring out my emotions into the kiss. She had felt my love, I knew it. The intensity of our kiss had increased and before I could stop myself, my hand had begun tracing the curves of her body.
“What do you think you are doing?” A female voice brings me out of my reverie. I apologize for the indecent touch. Mel is a friend and just a friend. I never wanted to touch her the way I did but thinking about the graduation night had stirred within me the primal desire to make love to the only woman I had loved all my life. I look at Megha who is now getting dangerously close to the man she is dancing with. I know the moves. I know what she is doing. I want to walk straight to her and stop her because she does not know what she is getting into. And all this was for what? Just to seek my attention, which she already has!
“And … what do you think she is doing?” Mel says nodding towards Megha.
“I think you very well know what she is doing.” I say and continue looking at Megha willing her to make eye contact with me so that she knows she has my attention already or I want the music to change so that we can change dance partners. I want the opportunity to take her in my arms but more than that – out of that asshole’s arms. The irritation starts building up in me. But what happens next is a relief, well sort of.
The man makes a pass moving his hand from her waist to her bottoms, and moves in to kiss her and Megha, finally realizing what she is doing pushes the guy away but in doing so she loses her balance and twists her ankle. I rush towards her but she is already on the floor. I help her to get up and then walk out of the party, Mel following us. I know she is hurting and I want to carry her in my arms but I also know that she is adamant and would not agree to it. I help her get into the car. We reach her house and as she steps out of the car, I ask her if she could walk and as expected she says yes she can and without turning to look at us or without even saying goodbye, good night or thanks she walks towards the gate. I know what she's thinking. I know her so well. She wants me to go with Mel. She pretends she can carry herself properly so that I can go ahead with my life, fool that she is. I watch her as she struggles to reach the gate but before she can even walk half the distance she falls flat on her butt and screams "fuck" as the seat of her jeans get soaked in the dirty water leaking out from a drainage pipe nearby. I climb out of the car and try to reach near her in time to stop the fall but I am too late.
Everything happens simultaneously –
Her already hurting ankle, unable to bear her weight twists, her knees buckle, her sandals drop from her hand and she is about to land on her butt, I open the car door and run towards her to stop the impact, but it is too late. She not only ruins her jeans but splashes the water on my shoes and jeans. I care a damn but I know she is aware of the damage.
"Are you alright?" I ask her offering her a hand and she takes a while to answer, as if she wants to say something else. After a while she nods and tries to get up. I put my other hand around her waist and help her to get up. She avoids eye contact with me but I am fully aware that she is on the verge of crying. I hold her hand as we walk together towards the gate. I turn towards Mel and ask her to wait in the car while I take Megha to her apartment. I think I see her smile, but it's gone almost immediately. Perhaps, it is my imagination. I can feel her pain as she tries to walk so I prefer to pick her up in my arms and walk towards the apartment. I carry her through the gate, past the sleeping security guard towards the elevator only to find that it is out of service.
"Wow!" I exclaim and start climbing the stairs. Once again, I see the smile but it is replaced by a frown and then some weird expression I cannot describe. I would give anything to know what she is thinking. Her jeans leak drainage water over my jeans and she stinks and I don't know why but that makes me smile.
Perhaps mistaking my smile, she requests me to put her down and says she can climb the stairs if I support her on the side of the broken ankle so that she does not need to put pressure on it while climbing the stairs.
Not knowing what to say, I blurt out, "This way would be quicker, Mel is waiting for me" and immediately regret saying it as her expression changes. She is nearly in tears but she gathers her feelings and packs them away, like she always does and I want to kiss her then and there.
Climbing three storeys with Megha in my arms might have been a different experience had I known there was something waiting to happen once we reach her apartment but being fully aware that no such thing would happen, I feel exhausted as I finally stand in front of her apartment. She takes out the keys from her jean pocket and hands it over to me. I take the key, open the door and carry her inside the house. My heart skips a beat as I think about what this could have meant had we been married. I would have loved to carry Megha over the threshold had she agreed to marry me when I had proposed. I am so deep in thoughts that I do not realise she is staring at me as I carry her straight into the bedroom.
She calls out my name and I come face to face with reality. I realise that she needs to clean herself up before she can rest. I finally put her down and she stands near the bedroom door, still keeping her broken ankle off the ground. I look around and see if I can find something she can use as support to move around the house but I do not find anything. I sigh as I feel sorry for her. I know very well that she would not allow me to be with her in her apartment and hence I want to make sure she is comfortable. Once again, perhaps mistaking my sigh as frustration, she says that I must leave.
I decide to agree with her, not because Mel is waiting for me in the car, but because all of a sudden I am reminded of the time I had spent in her house, in her bedroom, doing what I very much wanted to do to her right now. Before my desire can take over my sane thinking I rush out of the bedroom and on my way out find a chair near the dining table and I carry it back to her hoping that she would agree to use it as a support. She thanks me and I walk out of the house without turning to look back at her. I know it might have seemed rude to her but I also knew I would have found it difficult to walk out of the house if I had looked into her eyes. If nothing else, I would have ended up kissing her passionately.
Once again, my breathing is fast and shallow and every inch of my body aches to hold her close to my body. I close the door behind me and suddenly all the bottled up emotions burst out as I take a deep breath and start crying. I do not want Megha to hear me crying so I rush down the stairs. I halt midway to check my emotions and put the mask of calm back on my face. When I reach the car, I find Mel standing outside the car with her back resting against the car. She looks at me and then she looks at Megha's apartment, I follow her gaze and I realize she is looking exactly at the mid-landing where I had halted to wipe away the tears. I know that Mel has seen me through the full length window; I know she has seen me crying. It also means that she has seen me carrying Megha to her apartment.
"You both are big fools" Mel says shaking her head. I remain silent because I know she is right.
"You should be with her right now. She needs you but she is adamant, she would say it." Mel says.
"Go" she says nodding towards the gate and I turn to look back at the gate, thinking about the excuse I can use to go back to her house. And suddenly I realize I have a valid reason to go back. I feel the keys in my jean pocket, the keys to her apartment.
"Thanks, Mel" I say and kiss her on the cheek. She looks away. I know I should care, I should confess that I know how she feels about me but I am selfish. I never wanted things to turn out the way they had but that's the saddest part, we humans cannot control things that happen to us. We try to manipulate things and in the process mess up His plans, end up ruining either our own lives or the lives of people near us, people who mean something to us. I know that in the process of finding my own happiness I manipulated and used Mel and ended up ruining her life. How-much-ever I try to say that I am not responsible if she loves me, the fact is that I am the one who is responsible. Even though I am fully aware of my mistake, even though I loathe being selfish and doing this to her, despite cursing myself a thousand times for walking away from Mel, I continue being selfish and start walking towards the gate. Being guilty conscious and weak, I walk through the gate without turning to look back at Mel. I hear her climbing into the car and starting the ignition. I walk past the sleeping security guard and wonder how could someone sleep through all that has happened? I have no reason to, but I walk back to the guard and slap him as hard as I can, taking out the frustration on him. Poor fellow falls off his chair and stares back at me totally unaware that he has been victim to my venting out.
"Don't sleep again." I say to him and start walking back. The man is so shaken that he does not question who I am and what am I doing in this premises at this hour.
I climb the three storeys again, taking two stairs at a time and reach Megha's apartment. I wait for a moment to catch my breath and then take out the key from my pocket. I open the door and enter the house. I walk towards the bedroom and as I reach the bedroom I find the bathroom door open and through the open door I see Megha wrapping a towel around her wet body. I know I must look away but I cannot. I take in the beautiful view in front of my eyes, Megha's wet body half wrapped in a towel and I am tempted to walk towards her but I turn around muttering a sorry as I walk out. I hear the chair being moved. I apologize again as I hear her coming out of the bathroom and continue to explain, "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."
She mutters "It is okay" as she drags the chair towards the wardrobe. I cannot help staring at her as she picks out clothes from the wardrobe. Her wet body is very inviting. I visualize myself kissing her neck and licking the drops of water over her shoulders as I move my hand over her waist reaching for the open end of the towel. I inhale sharply, perhaps the inhaling is too loud because Megha turns around to look at me and I am embarrassed.
"I will wait outside" I say and step out of the bedroom, closing the door behind me.
Almost immediately I hear her calling my name and I enter the bedroom.
"Actually, I could not leave you in the condition you were in" I confess and we both stare at each other. I wonder whether she remembers the incident in her apartment, from years ago as vividly as I remember it. I smile as I think of it and I am genuinely surprised as she smiles back at me and then follows the awkward silence. The animal in me might have taken this as a hint and leapt at the opportunity to take her but the human me, the man in love breaks the silence and says, "Let's do something about your ankle" and I walk towards the medicine drawer. Even with my back to her, I know that she is smiling. The cards are open now. No secrets, no pretensions. I take out the pain-killer gel and even though she hesitates for a moment she finally gives in.
"I was about to do it after the bath but..." she stops mid-way and stares back at me and I know she is having the same wild thoughts that I am having. She clears her throat and extends her hand for me to give her the tube. I hesitate but hand over the tube to her and she is about to drag herself to bed using the chair when I step forward to support her. I almost put my arm around her waist but she gently pushes me away from her. I feel the reluctance and I hear her breathing. I know she is as affected by my presence as I am affected by hers. I can take it no more and I kiss her on the lips.
The act results in loss of balance and being jerked out of the day dreaming, I realize I am still standing outside the bedroom door. Wondering what is taking Megha so long, I knock on the door but she does not respond. Worried, I push open the door and find her staring blankly towards the door, clutching the chair tightly. She is still standing near the wardrobe but she is dressed.
"What happened to you? I was standing outside the door waiting for you to call me in." I say staring at her hand clutching the chair.
She exhales loudly and says sorry and starts pushing the chair towards the bed. I move towards her in one swift motion and offer her my hand as support and hope that she does not push me away. She does not. I walk her to the bed and as she adjusts herself on the bed, I walk to the medicine drawer and take out the pain-killer gel.
"Let's do something about your ankle" I say and she closes her eyes.
I sit on the bed next to her and apply the gel, gently massaging the gel over her swollen ankle. It feels good, being in her house, her bedroom, so close to her.
"What happened to your plan with Mel?" She asks and takes me by surprise.
"Postponed" I say and continue massaging in silence.
"See, if you do not want me here, I can leave." I add after a while feeling frustrated. Her question about Mel had brought back the guilt I had carefully and purposefully put at the back of my mind, in addition to it, I was frustrated because I felt she did not want me in the house with her.
"I want you to stay." she says and I know she means it.
"Are you not going to tell me more about Mel?" she asks. I know why she wants to know more about Mel and I decide to play along. I tell her all the good things about Mel and I realize that I mean all that I say. I really admire Mel for being the kind person that she is. I tell Megha about Mel and as I do, I live every incident, every moment and try to look at it from a different perspective. A third person's view and I know how it seems to the person who does not know about the act Mel and me were putting up. We seem like a couple who madly loves each another as I visualize me dancing with Mel, our bodies moving together on the rhythm of the music. It felt different when I had danced with her and painfully I realize how she must have felt during the dance. I really admired her for the self-control she showed. I am lost in thoughts but when I step out in the real world I find Megha lost in her own little world. Knowing that she was not aware I had abruptly stopped talking, I tease her, "Seriously?" and she stumbles out of the dream world.
"You ask me something and you don't even care to listen?" I say in mock frustration.
"Sorry" she apologizes looking deep into my eyes and that's it. The End. I cannot do it anymore. Her body is one thing but her eyes, the way she looks at me is a totally different thing. I can manage to keep my emotions in check even after seeing her half naked but I cannot control my emotions when she looks deep into my eyes as if peeking through my eyes, straight into my soul.
"The stunt that you pulled at the party, that was totally uncalled for." I say.
She remains silent and looks away avoiding eye contact. I know she is trying not to cry. I see her lips quivering as she tries desperately to hold back the tears.
"All you had to do was ask" I continue and she looks up startled. I stare into her eyes but my mobile rings and I look away, hoping that the special moment we had moments ago remains frozen while I take the call. It's Mel and I know I have to take the call, she deserves this much. Actually, she deserves more, but this is least I can do for her. I find Megha staring at the mobile display. I pick up the mobile and walk out of the room not wanting Megha to be in the awkward position as I talked over the phone and she simply stared at me or out of the window.
When I finish the call and enter the bedroom again, I see silent tears rolling down Megha's cheeks and the moment she sees me, she starts sobbing.
I rush to her side and hold her in my arms.
"I just could not" I say still holding her tightly in an embrace.
After a while I release her from the embrace and ask, "Since when?"
I want to know when she started loving me.
"After Mel happened to you." she confesses and I nod. I am not surprised to know that it had turned out exactly the way Mel had predicted.
"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?" I ask even though I already know the answer.
"All you had to do was ask" I repeat and the moment is back. Thankfully frozen - the way I wanted it to be. She looks at me with the same intensity and I know she knows that I love her.
"By the way, Mel never happened." I tell her and smile. She is surprised as expected.
"I have my own moves, you see" I tell her and wink. She smiles. Then, she cries. I move close to her, my lips hovering near hers, waiting for her permission. She nods and I cover her mouth with mine and we kiss passionately. The animal in me and the man in love merging into one being. The moment passes, we reluctantly disengage our lips. We have to end this moment, to move on to the next moment, exploring our new world together, the world that was always meant to be.