(This short story appeared on the Blog M web site. Click here to read it online.)
She looked at him, trying to concentrate on what he was saying. Although the lump in her throat was becoming almost unbearable, she tried to keep all her pain behind her eyes. She feared whether her eyes would give it away. She fought back her tears and her insides were churning like a volcano waiting to throw out lava. Hot boiling molten lava!
She couldn’t listen to him properly. She could just make out some words here and there. It was like there were voices in her head that blamed her, mocked her and laughed at her. A sharp pain started to grow in her sternum and it slowly began to move up to her forehead.
First time in her life she had fallen for someone – and it was for a married man. Her monotonous work life had suddenly taken a turn. She waited to go to office every day. Maybe she was naïve enough to make it seem to him that she didn’t mind those occasional glances, those unintentionally intentional grazes, those naughty messages…his advances were never indecent. She enjoyed every moment they spent together.
He always told her how comfortable he felt working with her. They made a good team, the others at the office said. How could she forget those frequent business tours they went on, when they stayed awake till early morning, just talking and talking! She felt for him what she had never felt for anyone…an intimacy to share anything at all, without any inhibitions.
She thought of all those stolen moments at the office she had so cherished. Like a teenager, she relished the secrecy of their relationship, it was their little secret, he would say.
And that day when they were alone, when he moved close to her and kissed her, she didn’t feel that he was taking advantage of her vulnerability…her inability to resist. Neither did she feel strange nor ashamed. She just saw it as a natural progression of their relationship.
She secretly beamed with pride when he lied to his wife to stay late with her, when he cancelled family outings feigning business meetings to be with her, he even missed a family function that night. His wife was away and he brought her to his place.They had a home cooked dinner, watched TV in each other’s arms and he took her to bed.
She lay on that bed, making love to him, on that very bed on which he sleeps with his wife every night. But what she felt then wasn’t guilt; it was a sense of vulgar triumph. She didn’t feel sorry, instead she laughed to herself at the unstinting trust of his ‘unfortunate’ wife. She moaned with utmost pleasure when he entered her. She celebrated the novelty of that pain as she lost her virginity to him, without even doubting that he was the one having the last laugh.
He was as patient and charming as ever when she asked him what was wrong. Why things had changed after that night…what happened to those messages, those grazes, those glances…? His words came as a blow to her. He held her hand, looked into her eyes, smiled and with a confused look on his face, said, “I thought things were all clear…I thought you understood our situation perfectly well. I am a married man, I have a family waiting for me at home. And also you have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t let this come in your way. I know you are a smart girl and you can handle all this…” He tapped her shoulder, gave her his signature wink-nod-and-a-smile and walked off coolly loosening his tie.
A tear swelled in her eye waiting to drop down. How did she not see it? That it was nothing more than a stupid little secret for him! She just sat there staring at the sea of faces typing vigorously at their keyboards. She felt cold…almost numb…she couldn’t come to terms with her immaturity. She looked into his cabin and saw him laughing and talking animatedly to his friend. His friend turned back, winked and waved his phone at her. And then her phone beeped. It was his friend. “Coffee…;)?”, the message read.