Alice

He looked at himself in the mirror. Truth be told (he was always honest, especially to himself), he didn’t like what he was looking at. All the wrong shapes at all the wrong places. He let out a heavy sigh. It traveled through the dejected air in front of him and crashed against the unhelpful mirror facing him, condensed vapor. Even at that moment of awkward self-consciousness, he ticked off yet another totally useless thing he was good at. Apparently, sighing heavily. Phew.

The lazy bum that he was, he felt tired after that record-breaking, mirror-kissing sigh. He retraced his steps from the discouraging glass on the wall and into the inviting arms of his lover.

As he snuggled up to her, he felt pangs of ecstasy hit him from head to toe. He reached in closer and gave himself up to her. Deliciously enthralling. In the past one year, since the time he had come to know and fall in love with her, she had never once shunned away from him. Her grip, vice-like and orgasmic was the fuel that charged his otherwise drab existence. Though he was one prone to doubt, this was one thing he was sure of. She was magical.

Blissfully ignorant as he was, he had always thought that as sure as the glaciers above were slowly melting, the Earth below gradually shifting, so would the love of his life make her way to his doorstep one beautiful day. Inevitably. Probably it might rain that day, he thought. Small yellow flowers might dance in through his window and settle on his shoulder. He was lazy to go searching for love, and hence foolishly believed that it would come right to his door and take over his life. Needless to say, for years, all he picked up at his door were cartons of milk, boxes of pizza and the scandalous newspaper. Wait, but Alice.

True, she didn’t get delivered to his door like a present would have. But on accosting her one beautiful day (when it neither rained nor were there yellow flowers around), he had brought her through that very door and had closed it behind him with a thud and some finality. His soul mate had finally come home. His room and thus his existence would now be complete. Oh…Alice!!

His love-making was rudely interrupted by the doorbell. It was going off frantically. Startled and mildly irritated, he recalled that his room-mate was not home and that he had to go get it. He reluctantly let go of her embrace and went to get the door. She as always didn’t complain. And at the door, he saw a stranger in front of him.

In the ensuing conversation, he learned that the stranger was a friend of his room-mate’s visiting town, and that he needed a place to crash for a couple of hours after which he would be on his way back. The stranger not waiting for a directive, barged in after the concise conversation right into our protagonist’s room. The room with Alice in it.

Our hero was momentarily rattled. He quickly placed a call to his roomie demanding an explanation for the rude interruption and the entrance of a stranger into his own room. He knew he sounded unreasonable and his room-mate tersely told him to cool down and to employ a level head. He told him that since the stranger was new, he wouldn’t know which room to occupy and went into the first one he encountered. Yes, he understood that being a roommate of his, he himself had seldom gone to our hero’s room but pleaded him to understand and forgive the rather brazen assault of his friend. And no, he was not going to be home for a while. Exasperated at the lengthy monologue, the room-mate ended the call on a cautious note. To keep one eye on his visiting friend and the other on the valuables in the room, as his friend in the past had shown to have a penchant for collecting things that he liked.

He started pacing the other room. The intruder seemed to be taking a bath. Once he had clocked around a few hundred circles around the room, he decided that he needed a breath of fresh air. Out he went.

Little did he know that his decision to take an evening walk would prove disastrous. He had just trespassed over the line that separated everyday daftness and outrageously absurd foolishness.

Rude and brash though he may be, the stranger wouldn’t dare touch dear old Alice, would he? But then again, being the doubtful Thomas that he was, he recalled the warning his room-mate had given him. He would not mind the urban gypsy borrowing a pack of cigarettes or a can of body spray. The stranger would not touch Alice, he knew. After all, she does not belong to the league of things that you can just, you know, borrow!

Slowly, the nerves settled. The air did wonders to him. He felt much better after sauntering about for an hour. As the final rays of sunlight disappeared below the skyline, and the shadows lengthened, his inhibitions receded. He inhaled the cool evening air deeply and looked forward to mounting his lover again once he was home.

Relaxed and composed as he walked back, on one look at his room however, he knew something was not right. Trying hard not to panic and screech thus, he charged into his room looking for the wandering stranger. Looked left and right. He even looked up. And again – left and right. No sight of him. But wait, something else was missing.

He suffered what must have been a mild stroke. Clutching his chest, he realized that Alice was missing too! Betrayal in broad daylight! What an imbecile he had been! How foolish! Going for a walk while the great escape was being orchestrated!

With trembling hands and a heart close to seizure, he dialed his roommate and in gasps and spurts, tried to find out the train his friend was supposed to catch. Having got the information, he bolted for the door, hailed the next auto on its way and started praying.

The three-legged being huffed and puffed its way agonizingly slow to the train station. Once it stopped at the kerb, he made a run for it. Jostling past last minute passengers with their briefcases and friends with their lasting send offs, he looked about wildly for a sight of the newest villain in his life. The train meanwhile started to move. Close to tears now, he picked up pace all the while trying to catch a glimpse of the fleeing party. Finally, at one of the train’s windows, he caught sight of his Alice. She looked as if she was fine with the whole thing, almost nonchalant in a heart-breaking way.

Without thinking, he leapt onto the train and started running towards her. He would not let her go, he thought. No, not without a fight, at least. He would bring her back, and though possessive as it may sound, he was going to keep her forever.

He finally got to them. He gave the nastiest look he could muster to the villain and picked up Alice in his arms as if she were a child and made for the door. The train had picked up a bit of speed by now. He stood, only momentarily at the door, drew in a quick breath and jumped with her onto the last stretch of the platform.

Commuters on the train that day and visitors on the platform were amused at the sight of a man with tear strewn eyes and a wildly pleased look jumping from a moving train onto the platform. Clutching a lovely mattress in his arms. One with beautiful yellow flowers and blue clouds pouring rain.

Written in February 2011.

 

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