A Moment too Long
by Zahra Naazir

‘Wait. Not yet. Just…wait. ‘ He said.

It started with the stir of the covid 19 reports. Suresh was home all the time. They could have been what they once were. But no. If only. Instead her world crumbled upon the epiphany that daunted upon her. He tried. He did it all. Flowers, home cooked dinners, little posts, helping out with chores, washing the dishes. He was always so kind, so loving. And so here he was; like a checklist he ticked through everything that could be done.

Looking back, Sarah still remembered the day she met him. It was a school party. He wasn’t from her school, but a mutual friend ensured they met. The two were pulled together.

‘He’s perfect for you’ said Michelle in front of him. Sarah blushed and he stood there as hot as hell.

‘I’m perfect for you, you know.’ That ego at only 16 years of age. And that was that. She was smitten. Seven years later; all she felt was nothing.

The truth was unfortunate. This was a memory from her past. Now she must move to her future. “What’s wrong Sarah? Why?’

Why? That was the question of the day. Was it the loss of her mother to Covid 19? It was overwhelming losing so much in such a short span of time. All she knew was she felt stifled. He didn’t deserve this; no way did he. Her mother’s life was one that was simply routine. All Sarah knew was this; she wanted more. Her loss was felt, but Sarah was pretty sure her mother did not fight to live; why would she? Sarah wanted more… yes- that’s why. But how could she tell him that?

His head hung down. Like a noose around his neck, his body writhed in pain, struggling to survive the strangulation . Well…. That’s what it felt like. If only she could see. What she did see was a man standing there. Just standing there. Even words stood by watching him fail.

‘It’s not you.. I know that’s cliche and all, but it really is not you.’

‘You just need space… I get it, I do…’ The guilt held her in place like a vice.

Sarah moved away, wound her tinted blonde curls into a bun and simply heaved out an explosive sigh. She was fed up. Done with it all. All she really wanted to do was freefall and feel the rush of her emotions dissipate into the flood of air that gushed by her face. It was as if her pain made a knot close to her heart and as much as she tried to close her eyes and imagine ocean waves, her imaginary sky brewed an unforgiving storm that stemmed from her inner turmoil.

She tried again. Now hugging him close she could hear his hammering heart thud. His warmth held her, almost savoring every being of her element. For some reason she still felt so distant. He knew. He knew. That’s what hurt the most. How could this be? How could one touch so close- connect skies apart? The days together were supposed to heal, but even a pandemic that hung down the mistletoe of death could not fix the unfixable. Broken. Suffocated. Her heart sank evermore into the depths of a blackened vastness. Pandemic love should not feel this way.

‘So…’ he finally spoke. ‘So…’ she replied.

The loud silence spoke.The lockdown did it all. It forced her to realize her life was worth more than mundane- morbid- monotony. But how could she want more than the immense life she had?

Yet, how could so much suddenly be a vacuum. A tear strolled down his cheek. It ran down the length of his handsome face, fleeting the rush of hurt that burnt him. His heart. Its beating continued but she felt like hers had stopped. Not from shock, but from the absence of her want for him. Still, she couldn’t. Holding his hand so tight, she couldn’t let go of the man she grew up with.

Sarah smiled at the realization. They had grown up together but they had grown apart. She released the grip to his hand and stepped a little closer to smell his scent once more.

‘ So… it’s time I go, you know?’ She whispered ‘I know…I know.’ He replied.

She picked up her bags and looked back at the man she had loved for almost a decade. A moment too long, but a moment photographed. With a faint smile she touched the cool door knob. She knew she would never see him again.

She walked away and didn’t look back.

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