Fury’s words precipitated down on me like a devastating hurricane, which wound its inclement hands around my neck, thrusting my soul out of my body, and hurling it ruthlessly up into the remotest skies, only to be cast down again, smashed to smithereens. My whole body went numb, painfully numb, and shock produced a lump in my throat, sucking it dry as if sandpaper had been scraping against it. And even though every bone and muscle in my body ached with shivery cold, I was, in a space of a few seconds, drowning in an inundating sweat. As if placed in a big block of ice, my feet and hands trembled and screamed their blistering pain in oceans of sweat. Bedeviled and struck dumb, I sat motionless as the dead, bidding my hardest to come alive from an impaling nightmare, which, with every breathless attempt that I would make to break loose from its smothering grip, would pierce me deeper down, and swallow me further into its bottomless abyss.
I tried to find my voice, but it just vanished. I stared at Fury, shaking my head in desperate rejection of what I had heard, my eyes supplicating her, wishing that she was playing one of her cruel jokes, and wanting her to say it wasn’t true. “No Fury, don’t, don’t, please.” Those few words, which I endeavored hard to wrest out of me, came out rattled and choked with tears that were cascading in support of my toothless plea.
Fury hugged me tight, rocking me back and forth, consoling me like her panic-stricken baby, her tears mingling with mine. At this moment the bitter reality began sinking in, “No, Fury is not joking. Martin IS truly leaving.” Drained and debilitated and feeling half dead, I disconnected, escaping utterly from the world around me. And other than my heaving chest, I guess no other indication of life appeared to be linking me to the world of the living.
“Call him, Liana; call him, please. Call him and talk to him now, before it’s too late.” Fury’s words of exhortation, even though mouthed to my ear, seemed so remote and apart in space. I lacked all sensation. I was numb and lifeless and empty, but despairingly anxious and hopeful still for a swift ending of this excruciating nightmare. I was like a fatally injured dove, draining her last drops of blood, but fighting hard for her final sparks of life.
Suddenly the phone placed next to my desk rang. Even though it reached me seeming faint and remote, it was loud enough as to encroach upon my unconsciousness, bringing back, strangely enough, an abrupt flashback of a similar sound that had resonated six months earlier, jolting awake a freewheeling and dewy-eyed young woman from her sweet and dreamy and simple world. Tears poured down my cheeks as I rode wings of nostalgia to the pain-free olden day, to the day when Fury called me, breaking the news of an ad that had appeared earlier in the morning newspapers, to the day that my destiny began lining up the first words of a chapter that would change the course of a whole life, once, and for ever.
Having laid me tenderly back against the chair, Fury moved towards the phone, as I hazily sensed. My brain, albeit in a state of confusion and disarray, was still able to comprehend a few of her words; someone must have been asking for Martin. “No, he’s not here. ……… Yes, he was here earlier today. NO, he hasn’t returned since he left our office this morning,” she said as she concluded the brief conversation and returned to me. ‘Liana, listen. Listen to me, honey, listen to me, please,” she pleaded as she grabbed both my shoulders, shaking me tenderly, as if to bring down my head that was floating high in the clouds. “I am going to call him now. I will call him at his office,” she said intensifying her words as if to thrust them into my head. “You must talk to him, please, Liana. YOU MUST. This is the only way you can find out about what happened. This will save you the agonizing wait. OK, Liana, OK, OK sweetheart?” She repeated her words in a slightly louder tone.
With a frail movement of my hand, I gestured my rejection. “Water, water please,” my body and mouth begged her, voicing their dehydration. Fury hastened to the water cooler, and returned with a cup of water. I drained it to its last drop, and asked for another.
To Be Continued.......