The Elevator Trip to the Altar

This one is for a very dear friend, Ushasri Nannapaneni of Ushasri’s POV. Her Project 52, in which she hosts a writing prompt every week, is a huge motivator for lazy writers like me to pick up the pen and write. This story here is my entry for Prompt 11.  This also happens to be my first story where my characters have names and are not addressed using pronouns!

Day 1

It was Simran’s first day at the office. She stood by the floor-length mirrors in the lobby to look at herself. Happy with the way she looked, she started to move towards the two elevators but halted when she saw the exorbitant queue outside both. After everyone in the queue had got into the elevator, Simran’s eyes fell on a young man who, like her, had decided to sit out. Looking dapper in a midnight-blue crisp cotton shirt and beige trousers, he was lost in his cell. Simran seized the moment to look at him a little more; it was difficult to take her eyes away from the elegance he exuded in that simple outfit. She was baffled when he looked up and their eyes met. He gave her a courteous smile; she returned a nervous one. Just then, one of the elevators came to the ground floor and Simran moved towards it. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw him holding the elevator door for her. It was only both of them in the elevator, his spice and musk cologne filling the space. Staring at him in the lobby was fine, but standing here with him in a closed space felt intimate. Simran kept looking at the floor, not finding the courage to look up. When the elevator reached the ninth floor, Simran walked towards her office knowing that all this while his eyes had been on her.

Day 2

Simran reached at the same time as yesterday and craned her neck to search for him. She blushed when their eyes met. Like yesterday, they both sat out one elevator trip and on the next one, it was only both of them. Like yesterday, Simran reached office knowing that he had not taken his eyes off her.

Day 8

Like all of last week, it was only them in the elevator; her heart did a happy dance when they exchanged knowing smiles. Simran had missed him over the weekend and today, he was a sight to her sore eyes. “You have weekends off? Didn’t see you here on Saturday”, he said in a voice that did to her what hot chocolate does when poured on vanilla ice-cream. “Yes”, she replied, feeling off-kilter. “I am Manish”, he said extending his hand towards her. “Simran”, she said putting her hand into his. “Nice to meet you”, he said holding her hand and eyes for longer than usual. The left reached the ninth floor. Simran got out, then stopped. Half-turned and smiled at him before going to her office.

Day 100

Clad in a red anarkali suit, Simran walked out of the elevator. The red sindoor in her hair parting made her glow. Lights fell on her chooda and made them dazzle. She stopped, then turned – fully. Smiled and waved goodbye to Manish, who she was married to two months after he went down on his knees and proposed to her in this elevator.

Leave me your feedback – good and constructive 😉 – in the comments here. You can read the stories by Ushasri and her friends here.

That Day in April

It was a bright day in April when she stepped out of the house with a cloud of unrest heaving on her heart. She’d been restless since the night before; she couldn’t understand why. All she could comprehend of the turmoil of emotions within her was that she needed to see him. How he held the key to release her of this restlessness was something she could not understand, and yet she knew.

She reached the station and her eyes began their hungry search. When he walked in from the station entrance, her grip on her handbag tightened by a microscopic measure; her knees felt weak. Every time she looked at him, she fell in love with him a little more; her heart broke a little more.

He reached the platform and his gaze met hers. And turned away soon after. Each breath lodged in her throat for a little while longer and her chest felt heavy as she struggled to breathe; she could hear the pounding of her heart loud and clear.

The train alighted and she boarded; his reluctance in boarding the train registered with her as did every minute detail that defined him – his broad shoulders and narrow waist, his strong arms, where she longed to spend the rest of her life. What if he did not board? She’d die if he did not. To her relief, he boarded the train after a brief glance in her direction.

It was the video coach. He got a seat by the window, in the first class general compartment, and she stood by the door in the ladies compartment, diagonally opposite him. The restlessness of the night before subsided a little, like she had known it would, and the familiar hurt of being ignored replaced it. She’d felt like this several times now; she was so used to the feeling that it was more comforting than the unknown restlessness. After all, the hurt, though painful, was what connected her to him.

It hurts when you love somebody you cannot have; she knew how unbearable that pain could be. And yet it held a pleasure she couldn’t describe. She knew they could never be together, and yet in moments like these, she felt like she belonged to him and, in spite of every truth that surrounded him, he belonged to her.

Her eyes never left his face; his never turned to look at hers. In her heart, she pleaded with him to spare her one glance, one memory, one reminder that, though for just a few moments, she’d been a part of his life, his thoughts. But he never once turned to look at her. Her heart filled with anguish as she thought of the days when she was all he looked at, tears beginning to form at the back of her eyes.

She reached her destination and turned around to look at him once again. His eyes were still fixed on something outside the window. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She turned away, not allowing him the pleasure of watching her crumble.

In that moment, she did not see the single tear that rolled down his cheek.

That day in April, she would remember it as the last time she saw him…