The few moments of pregnant silence were punctuated by the sound of leisurely footfalls that I sensed were approaching closer and closer. Then another wave of fidgety silence suddenly enveloped the place. Both my elbows were braced on the desk. Slowly I lowered my fingers to the bridge of my nose. My gaze settled on an off-white shirt and blue pants. It was him; yes, him, ‘the choice of the heart’, in flesh and blood, and it wasn’t an illusion or the making of my imagination. He stood near, so near, that I sensed his thighs and knees touching my desk. I lifted up my eyes to him. A pair of the most beautiful hazel eyes was looking at me, smiling, tenderly and lovingly, all the while fondly devouring my face.
My pain of neglect and humiliation rocketed to such intensity as to disallow the merest suggestion of a compromise. My mind held the upper hand, whipping and admonishing my heart not to yearn, not to ‘forget’ and not to ‘forgive’. I lowered my head, and shielded my eyes once more. ‘Too late, I’m leaving. Today is my last day. You won’t see me again’, I thought finding solace, in a resolute vow to myself. ‘You’ve gone way past forgiveness this time’. I couldn’t stand the look of his face. I wondered if I knew him well, truly well, and if he deserved my love, and if he were worthy of the life I had been prepared to give up for him and for the sake of his love. I wondered, first and last, if he could be trusted with a wife or with a life.
‘Liana’, he uttered my name so affectionately that I sensed my traitorous heart fluttering wings of excitement upon hearing his tender voice, ‘Liana’ however, was bent on appearing to be ‘unfalteringly’ deaf.
The weighty silence was disrupted when I heard him moving to my right, pulling up a chair and placing it close by. The sound of his breathing conveyed to me that the rule of maintaining a two-meter distance between us had surely been infringed. My unfaithful heart engaged in a feverish dance of joy, or was it of rage rather, or, perhaps, of love?
The racking anticipation mounted mercilessly, weighing its full heaviness in those few, yet seemingly perpetual, moments of disquiet. Suddenly I heard his habitually affectionate and warm voice, for which I had pined for a whole week, commanding gently, ‘Look at me sweetheart’.
His words went unheeded, half of my face still shielded by my hands
‘Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but you’re driving me into doing something really crazy if you don’t look at me’, he ‘advised’ calmly but earnestly.
I panicked. His impetuous nature left no room for the slightest doubt that his forewarning was serious. I was well aware that I would be offering the crazy lover in him the golden opportunity for which he’d long hankered. Prudence finally triumphed enough to allow him a ‘partial concession’. I removed both my hands and placed them, one on top of the other, beneath my chin. I set my raging eyes in a fixed glassy stare on the opposite window. Then I sat back, statue-like, my gaze moving to my skirt, as I folded both my arms against my chest. Suddenly I turned my eyes to Fury on the other side of the glass panel. She was smiling joyfully, her eyes urging me to be polite to him.
He held a patient silence, as I turned my glance back to my desk. I was like a ball being thrown about violently by antithetical emotions. Deep down, nonetheless, I knew my insubordinate passion was all for him, and that I was still in love, madly in love, and more strongly than ever. After a few moments of suspenseful silence, I turned my eyes to him. My heart throbbed the moment our eyes met. A crazy shiver surged thrilling my whole body. My eyes were so thirsty for his face that it seemed difficult to believe that that only seven days, and not seven years, stood between us. Notwithstanding all the rage and all the indignation, I was still crazily enraptured with him. He was smiling, his face glowing with ecstasy. I had to throw in the towel in the face of my obstinate passion. For the more I tried hating him, the more my love-smitten emotions idolised him, and the more they colluded with him against me. I knew, then, that hating him was beyond my capacity; it was nothing that I could or would truly afford. There was no way I could avoid loving him, no matter what he did, no matter how hard I tried
‘I missed you’, he said so affectionately that it made my naïve heart bound ecstatically, offering its unconditional forgiveness.
‘Thanks for realizing that Liana still exists’, I replied, choked with emotions, my voice cracking, but at the same time I was surprised by my sense of inner calm. ‘How could you be so cruel, and in front of everybody?’
‘I’m sorry sweetheart, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t say or do anything with all those bloody eyes around. Seeing you in this bloody yellow drove me nuts. I was dying to hug you and kiss you right in front of everybody, but I had to do what I did because of you, because I love you’.
While he talked, I remained silent, staring at him, but in enormous pain. Suddenly, he broke out uncharacteristically.
I’d never seen him so powerless and so helpless and so engulfed with passion as he seemed in those few moments. He was usually cool, calm and collected, but I reckon love had taken its toll on him in those few days of parting. It was conspicuous that his passion reigned supreme.
‘That was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done, those seven days were hell. God, if you just know how much I missed you….’.
As he spoke fervently, his hand moved in an attempt to touch mine. I leaned nervously to the opposite side, and hid both my hands behind my back. This impulsively naïve move, seemingly, maddened him further, turning him on. I remember I frowned, my face warning against any recklessness, and it sort of bridled his movements, but not his mouth. ‘…I love you Liana, and I want to marry you…..’.
It was the first time he gave full vent to his passion, and so explicitly, as to freak out the naïve, inexperienced and puritanic kid that I was. His audacious and explicitly passionate words and his blatant yearning left me in shock and dismay. My heart was beating fast, and I knew I blanched. I was an expert at sensing either the onrush of a blush or the receding of colour from my face once they started. I went dumb. His tough rival, my agonizing silence, overpowered me at the most crucial time. It was first time I experienced such an enormous fear; my fear of him overmastered my love for him. And I reckon, it was the moment of truth, but it came without warning and at the wrong time. Overcome by shock, I turned my eyes to my desk. I was helpless, lost and torn by some excruciatingly conflicting emotions, which I couldn’t control or even comprehend.
‘Liana?’ He called my name, impatient for a positive reply to his marriage proposal.
‘What time did you arrive?’ I asked calmly, killing the few moments of silence.
The irrelevancy stunned him. After a short bewildered pause, he replied with reluctant effort, ‘Two a.m.’.
‘Do you mind if we leave this for some other time?’
My unexpected reply seemingly astonished him. Before he could say more, the phone rang, ‘saving’ me. Glancing at him, I picked up the receiver and engaged in a chat with Al on work-related matters. His face fell, shifting colours. He must have been perplexed. He waited a few moments. Then, before Al rang off, he left the office, angrily.
To Be Continued.......