I almost dropped the receiver when it was handed over to me by Fury; I was at sea, not knowing what to say, or how to broach the conversation. A few moments of tranquilizing procrastination that were punctuated by drags of deep breath finally helped me manage a few words, “Hi…Martin.” I was striving for normalcy, but my disobediently wayward emotions declared themselves vividly through my quivering voice. And my helpless apprehension reigned, overarching the crushed emotions that were still clinging to a thin line of fading hope, and pleading heartily within myself for an alternate tell, “Don’t, don’t say it, please don’t. What I heard cannot be true; I am certain you love me enough to spare me all this pain.” Disengaging me from my tumult of silent pleas, his voice came through the line, justifiably reserved and cautious, yet as reassuring as ever, “Hi Lu… how’re you?” Well, even though his words reflected his wonted composure, yet “Lu” would’ve by no means missed the tinge of anxiety that permeated his words; my heart sank further down. For when it came down to this particular zone of feelings and emotions, we would, both, never go wrong. And the magnitude of the event was now all too visibly clear on my radar. Having never acquired it, patience, particularly at this grievous moment, was not a virtue that I could have toyed or bargained with, “Is it true what I heard?” I catapulted through my bursting tears. Fury pinched lightly my arm, seemingly alerting me to the potentials of a mined call. But discretion or prudence was far beyond the reach of my heedlessly anxious emotions. And I brushed her off, reiterating my question, adamant for a reply that was somehow belated, perhaps for it being deliberated. A calm one-word reply, however, wiped out whatever residue of hope I was still clinging to, “Yes.” Overmastered by the impact, I asked, choking out in my tears, “But why?” “Because it’s about time,” he responded with the same composed voice. At this point it seemed as if all had been said, and there was nothing else to be appended; silence prevailed, and I sensed everything else around me stopping dead. The same painful numbness that had assaulted me earlier on swooped down again. And I started detaching myself, losing touch with reality. But a loving and concerned tone pulled me out of the closing shell, “Lu?”
Discussing the matter over the phone, however, was obviously ineffectual, not to mention the necessity for painfully concise speech that further exacerbated the situation, pouring more fuel onto my fires. “Can you come over now?” I asked, casting a nervous glance at my watch, striving to conceal the anxiety in my voice.
Even though he consented, my intuition proved darn right—he wasn’t going to come. And that wasn’t only because we were less than an hour away from finishing for the day. My feminine instinct grasped something else that seemed intangibly wispy, yet foreboding enough to have me devoured by worries. But what was it? That I couldn’t really tell. I sensed my heart and stomach wrenching. “So? Is he coming?” Fury asked, eager for a reply. “He said he will, but….” Unable to finish the sentence, I just shut up.
Those excruciating moments of desperate and queasy wait dragged weightily on. My heart, fraught with worry and apprehension, would miss a beat every time the door squeaked opening. One minute, however, multiplied into another, but he didn’t turn up.
I was literally dead when I finished for the day. My workmates noticed the drastic change. The counterfeit smile that I endeavored to put on to fight off the intrusive looks turned into an onerous task that I could barely afford. And whoever I ran into of my workmates pelted me with their penetrating inquisitiveness, “Hey Liana, what’s up? Are you alright? You look so pale! Are you sick or something?”
My appetite, which had been drastically dwindling away, vetoed the merest hint or thought of food, and that night seemed to be the longest, the weightiest, and the heaviest. And I just couldn’t shut my eyes even for a split second. That night, one of endlessly excruciating nights my fate will prove to have had in store for me, taught me my first lessons of how it feels to be roasted slowly at a low temperature. The most toilsome thing, though, was concealing the gravity of the emotional upheaval from my family, particularly mum, whose vetting eyes spotted the change, and besieged me with her worries. “Nothing serious mum; just tired and I truly wish to be left alone, please.” All her barging entreaties to have me join the family’s gathering, went fruitless. Through her repeated phone calls, Fury, nonetheless, spared no effort, assaying for her part to mitigate the magnitude of the devastation, but to no avail. And while I could hardly wait to get back to work, time had turned into a vengeful enemy, settling its scores, simple by freezing.
When I stepped into the office the following morning, he was standing with his cup of coffee, chatting with Tom, who was behind his desk, facing. I knew I looked like a ghost. Ten hours of sleep were, and still are, the normal daily nourishment that keeps me in balance. And the previous weighty sleepless night had had left its marks on my drained face. Surely my eyes must have imparted my devastation the moment they met his eyes, which communicated overwhelming warmth that had the touch of magic in dispelling some of my worries. Well, just seeing him around gave me all the peaceful reassurance that I desperately needed.
I put my bag in the drawer and impatiently stepped out of my office, heading to the storeroom. He got the message alright. A few moments later, he followed me.
To Be Continued>>>>>>>