Out of thousands of days that you live, some days are special, days that are unforgettable, days that are cherished forever.
When I woke up that day, I knew how different it was going to be. After all, it was our anniversary. And, like always, I and Jackson had our plans. Sunrays sneaked in through curtains that morning trying to snoop into my privacy, and I turned to bed’s other side to feel Jackson. For a moment, I froze not finding him there but hearing water run in the bathroom relaxed me. It was already 7:30. I got up and rushed to the kitchen because I knew how much Jackson loves to have his toast, omelet and coffee as soon as he gets out of bathroom.
Just when I thought the day was going to be perfect, I burnt the omelet. There could have been a chance of preparing another one only if I had any egg left. While I was panicking, Jackson came down to the kitchen. He looked at me, then at the pan and smiled.
‘Happy anniversary, darling!’ He said wrapping me in his arms. I knew he wouldn’t get upset at a burnt omelet; he wasn’t one of those stupid, ill-tempered men. When you want a day to be special a burnt omelet is certainly not a good start to it. But I couldn’t care less about it when I felt Jackson’s warmth, his tender touch all over my body.
‘A very happy twentieth anniversary, Jack!’ I whispered in his ears with my feet tiptoed to reach to his ears.
‘Well, now we’re out of omelet. So let’s have toast and coffee and be off to work’, Jackson said.
I knew it would do no good to ask him not to go so I didn’t. But he had promised he would come back early and we’d go ahead with our anniversary ritual. As long as I get to spend my anniversary’s evening with him, I am fine with his office work for morning.
Before leaving he gave a peck on my forehead, like always, and I on his nose, like forever. He smiled. I smiled. And he left.
I went back to kitchen, cleared the burnt mess, freshened up for the day and sat outside in the porch. It wasn’t too hot nor too cold- the kind Jackson loves. Though my kind of weather is winter, when it snows outside and I can stay in bed with Jackson all-day and all-night long.
Just when I thought I’d try, yet again, to enjoy Jack’s cherished weather, I saw him- Robin Alberto. I never liked that man. He brainwashes my Emma. And to top it all off he was sitting with my daughter in our garden, again.
‘Emma, don’t you have to go to university today?’ I called her.
‘No, mom. No classes today’. And Emma got back to her conversation with Robin. I knew what they were talking about. It wasn’t happening for the first time. I can even rehearse their whole exchange-
Emma- Doctor, it’s been five long years and still no improvement.
Robin would nod.
Emma- I don’t want my mother to live like this. A week was fine but it’s turned into her habit now. She is living her life that way. Help her, doctor! I have only her.
Robin- I’m doing everything that I can, Emma. We can’t help her unless she wants to help herself.
Emma would frown. She might even cry. Then Robin would keep his eyes down and wait for Emma to get sober.
Emma- I cannot lose her too, doc!
And Emma would collapse again.
No matter how much I tried to convince them, they never listened. So I had stopped listening to them too. What they said didn’t matter to me. If allowed to be candid here, it never really did. Ever.
By then I had realized I won’t be able to enjoy that mild day, and so getting back inside the house was the only option left. I held my paperback in one hand, coffee’s mug in the other and headed to my room. I never liked coffee when I was young but Jackson transfused his habit before I even realized it.
Mirror, which was the first thing one’s eyes would fall over on entering in our room, was never something I was fond of. I liked looking at it only when Jackson was beside me, which was so rare. In fact, I couldn’t even remember when it happened the last time. Determining that I’d ask Jackson about it in the evening when he comes back, I lied down on bed and fell asleep. A weird dream broke my sleep that afternoon. A dream so vivid that I still remember it.
Jackson and I were strolling in the park, hand in hand. While walking, my skirt’s frill twined with a shrubbery. I stopped and bent to free my skirt. When I looked up Jackson wasn’t there. I ran around, looked everywhere, called his name out loud but he didn’t show up. He was gone. He just disappeared. And that is when I woke up drenched in sweat.
Clock had already struck four. Staying at home was becoming too tough for me that day. So after having a light meal, I wrote a note for Jackson informing him that I had already left for the place; got ready in my red dress, which he had brought for me a day before as a present, and went to our anniversary’s site- it was an old, rusty bench near a cliff.
I know it is bit peculiar to have a date site near a cliff, but Jackson loves adventure and soon after getting married, his adventure got rubbed off on me too. After spending some time at that place, we go to our favorite restaurant where we call Emma too and finally, mine and Jackson’s favorite part, we snuggle in our bed till dawn.
When I left the house, Emma was sitting in the porch with bible in her hand. She had become weird in past few years. It was like I didn’t even know her. Asking God to protect me from something was what she kept herself occupied with then. Such sight of my young nineteen-year-old used to kill me. But she had stopped listening to me long back. So that day, I let her stay put, and told her to come to the restaurant in the evening. Her eyes started diluting with tears but I had to leave. She wouldn’t understand, I knew.
Finally, after a long thirty-minute walk I reached there. That bench had mine and Jackson’s names’ scribbling- Susan and Jackson, and a heart in the middle of the names. Emma had drawn that heart when she was twelve. But now whenever I remind her about the heart on our anniversary, she cringes, and walks away. How silly my Emma has become! May God bless her!
Silliness reminded me of Mrs. Braganza whom I encountered on my way to the cliff. She smiled but I knew it wasn’t genuine. Not many people offer it to me. And hers was a silly one. When I crossed her, I couldn’t hear the whole of it but she definitely mumbled these words to her friend,
‘…lost her husband in an accident five years back but couldn’t come in terms with…’
I didn’t want to hear more of it. A wife without a husband, a body without a soul. How can God be so cruel to anybody? I thanked God for being fair to me.
Sun had started to dive, subtly, into its horizons. And I knew soon a hand will perch on my shoulder. Just when I thought it would, it did. Jackson was there in his grey tux, looking as handsome as ever. He smelt heavenly and reminded me of having forgotten to apply cologne, again. But his smell blends within me so well that I never feel the need of using any artificial scent.
I took his hand and guided him to my side to enjoy the peaceful sunset. When lips need not to move, when the touch of one’s hand is all that you need, that is where the zenith of love lies. I and Jackson had reached there years back but every time we follow through with this ritual of ours, it still gets me butterflies.
It was getting cold so we started for restaurant. Before leaving, I wanted to glance down there, down the cliff. In these many years I never looked there. Jackson never let me. But this time I was adamant to.
‘Alright! But not too close’. He finally gave up to my puppy face.
I started walking towards the edge of the cliff, slowly. There wasn’t much distance left between me and a deadly drop when I thought of abandoning the plan. I knew it would be my only chance to have a look there, as Jackson doesn’t always give in to my puppy face, so, I had no choice but to go against my gut. I was there, almost there, when a strong gust of wind threw me back. I fell on dried leaves, twigs and broken branches.
It wasn’t just the force of that gust but the sound that it held; I knew that voice. It was of Jackson squalling that he was waiting for me. When I turned back, Jackson wasn’t there. He disappeared just like my noon’s dream; I sensed déjà vu then. He must have left for restaurant, I thought. It explains that voice too. There was no other sane explanation. And with it I embarked upon my walk to the restaurant.
Seeing Jackson on the doorsteps of restaurant’s entrance made me blush. Like a teenager does on her first date. When I took a step towards the entrance door, I heard a man saying that somebody fell off the cliff some time back. I took a sigh of relief. It could so easily have been me, I thought, when something weird, something bizarre caught my eye- the mirror outside the restaurant was not reflecting me back.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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