The dark was getting more darker and the silence more louder. The rhythmic beating of my heart pumping blood was the only thing left for me to feel. Then out of nowhere came a cry for help. A shrike that left me shivering to the bones. The scream was loud and distant but I felt as if it was of someone I knew, someone close. I immediately ran towards the source..
Tringggg… the alarm sounded and I woke up. I didn’t have a clue what I saw in my dream. Everything was a blank like those moments that students get in the examination hall. But I found myself all sweaty and then realized it was not a dream but a nightmare.
I always wished for my dreams to come true. Everybody wishes for their dreams to come true actually but does anybody wish for their nightmare to come true? “No” would be the obvious answer.
“I need to open the shop early today” I thought to myself. It was the ‘season of travel’ as it was the holiday season. Love and affection was all around. People use this highway more as it was the shortest route between Ca-Lvan and Gruvan. Basically it can be said as a shortest route between the countryside and the city. The young people visited their parents who had decided to stay in the countryside and irrigate the lands, at least once a year.
I got up and started to dress. Just as I was pulling up my socks, I heard a shout from outside. “John, today is going to be one hell of a day so you better get out here quickly and get us underway.”
I opened the door and the first glimpse of sunlight fell upon my face. It felt warm and welcoming. Then the atmosphere changed as I took a quick glance of the highway across the field. Cars, trucks and all sorts of vehicles that people could travel in were burning rubber.
“Got our first customer,” came a cry from the shop. I hurriedly went into the shop as I wanted to be the one to greet our special first. I knew today would be a great day as of last year we made a whole month’s profit on this very single day and we expected to make more this time. After all it was Christmas.
“Good morning, my name is..” I started to say with a fake smile upon my face.
“John. I know.” came a reply from inside and then the windows rolled down and I was in for quite a shock when after all these years, before my eyes was Julie with her unchanged perfect smile.
I was too surprised and was trying to take it all in when I realized how fast life could change and what it feels like when the thing you have been wanting for a long time suddenly was right there in front of you. All you need is the courage to grasp it.
“Hey John. How has it been?” Julie asked as she began to unbuckle her seat belt.
“See for yourself,” I responded as I took a quick swipe of the shinny garage myself. “What can I do you for?” I asked as I leaned upon the car window.
“Well I have got a problem with this old piece of junk right here,” she said and gave a pat on the car herself.
“Let my boys take a look at it.” I said and whistled over to a colleague nearby who immediately got to work starting from the bonnet. I noticed that her car was the same old one that she was driving when she was here last year.
“So Julie, how are you doing? What has been happening?” I intended on breaking the ice as I tried to avoid unnecessary awkwardness and silence.
“Nothing much, just that I have been divorced recently and am looking to start fresh.” She said as if trying to avoid talking on the subject.
“Sorry to hear that.” Now was I? “Hope you could,” just then I was interrupted by the man working on the bonnet.
“This is going to take a while to fix as it seems I have to redo all the inner techno’s.” Said the man while playing with a screwdriver in his hands.
“Oh. I was heading for my parent’s home in Guzan but I guess I could postpone it for a little while. I mean they wont mind if I got there a little late” Said Julie unsure of what to do.
“So you must be hungry then. Want to join me for breakfast?” I asked and waited for her expressions to change eagerly.
“Sure. Just like the last time we met expect I had to fix the car myself and lets just hope your cooking has improved too.” Said she and chuckled while she started getting out of the car.
“You basically taught me about cars and how to fix it. You introduced me to what seems to have been my passion and my life. I owe you for all this and you technically own it all.” Said I to what seemed like a point to be made and a point to be clarified.
“So I basically own you and you have to do whatever I tell you to?” she said with a teasing tone.
“John at your service now and always.” I said looking at her.
She then smiled as if assuring me that she knew it already.
“Ummm.. this is the tastiest thing I have ever eaten. I don’t even care what it is but I can eat this forever.” exclaimed Julie with a mouthful. “I see fixing cars isn’t the only thing you have improved in.”
Just then I had the strong desire of running away on an endless trip with her all around the world and for a moment feel what it was like to be alive not alone but with that special someone by your side with your every step of the journey. Feel like there was someone who would do anything to have you, someone who would risk it all to make you theirs, someone to call your own.
“Hey, why are you staring?” said she while she ate the last of her food.
“So Julie, what happened to you anyway?” I asked her trying to get to know her a bit more.
“It’s a long story John.”
“Well we have got the whole day.”
“Right. So the last time I was here, I was actually heading for my wedding. Sam is his name. He was a charming guy at first, my first love. They say first love never dies and in the beginning I believed it to be true as there was no other with whom I could have imagined to spend my whole life. But later that I realized it was not first love that never dies but it was ‘true’ love that stays with us for eternity.” she said while she looked at the sky beyond.
I knew that whatever she said was the truth. “So what happened?” I asked.
“Well lets just say he was not my true love.” she said and got up. She looked around for a bit. “Oh, I forgot my bag in the car. I will just see if its there or not.” Then she left the kitchen.
Christmas is a special period of time in which the people who are close exchange gifts. A sign to show that they cared and you are special. But not for me, I was alone in this world and some who knew my name and barely a handful who actually cared.
“So. What have you got in mind?”
I didn’t realize that Julie was already back.
The whole day was just gone like the blink of an eye. Time seemed to pass faster and without notice when I was with her and everything started to make more sense like the flowers with their beautiful colors, the occasional cool breeze of wind that left a chill on our face, the clouds providing shade for a time and after from the sun.
We were lying on the field across the highway and the garage. The car was proving more elusive to be fixed but the main thing was that Julie was still there with me. I didn’t care if that car of her would take forever to finish, at least she would be there with me and that was all that mattered.
The sun was setting down over the horizon and Julie was closing her eyes trying to take in the warmth of the sun for the last time today. “Remember the last time, we were here?,” I said. “Last time I was unable to do something but not today.” I gathered up every bit of courage I had left to say the next few words. “I love you Julie. I always have.”
I eagerly watched her and expected her to be surprised but she lay there as if she was waiting for me to say it. “I love you too John. You are the only person who has made me feel more… ‘alive’.”
The night was setting in and I put my hands on her’. “Stay the night, won’t you. I want you to be the first person I see on Christmas tomorrow.”
She hesitated for a while but readily agreed after thinking it over. “John, I have to call my parents first. I will be back soon.” She said as the first of the stars started to twinkle.
“You can have my cell” I said as I reached in my pocket.
“No.” she exclaimed. “I have my cell in my bag.”
I thought she acted weird over a phone call but who cares about a phone when I have her, I need her.
I began to lie down when suddenly I heard a crash and a cry for help at the same time from the highway. ‘Oh no, Julie’ I thought and immediately ran towards the source.
Author: Samyam Shrestha
If you haven’t read ‘My Age’, part I, here you go, click here.