Emily paused from her reading and looked out the window. It was getting dark. Though she could not see the sun due to the high rise buildings surrounding her apartment, she could make out the orange red hues mingling with the blue as they signalled dusk. Another day gone by. Another day spent in quiet isolation, waiting. It would be two weeks tomorrow since she'd last heard from him. He supposed to call her when he returned from his business trip, but he didn't. Well, of course she could call him too, find out what he was up to, but she had been having doubts lately. Did he really care about her? Why did she always have to be the one to make the effort? She had decided long ago that she would not make it about self esteem and not think too much about making the first move. But this was going too far. She didn't want to seem...desperate.
Emily sighed as she realized that that was just what she was. Desperate for him. She had not been too keen on the whole dating scene ever since she had been promoted. Work had kept her too occupied. Other than the occasional dinner or drinks routine, Emily steered clear of young dateable men in the city. One lunch with Mark had changed all of that. He had made her laugh so much! Time just flew when she was with him. She wouldn't call it love, she just adored his company. Maybe its just loneliness, Emily, she told herself, get a grip on yourself, put on a nice dress and go out, put Mark out of the picture.
After all, that was the practical thing to do. You can't waste your precious youth pining about one person. Life was just too short. So, Emily got up and walked over to her closet. Her mind occupied with what she'd wore on her last date with Mark and what he'd said about her dress, her style, her laugh, her... She held on to the dress and closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind and focus on her new decision. Sighing, she picked out a bright red dress and shoes to match. The red beautifully brought out the soft brown of her eyes and the dress was sharply cut to expose her dainty shoulders.
'You look delightful', she told herself as she looked in the mirror, permitting herself a little smile of self-adulation. Mark must definitely be crazy, she thought, to turn down someone this good looking and capable. She must have misjudged him, after all, he wasn't all that good for her. Tonight, she was going to find out what else the city had on offer. Her spirits up, she decided on a place, grabbed her bag, switched off the lights, bolted the door...and there he was.
He stood in the doorway, dressed in a casual jacket and jeans, looking utterly perplexed.
'Emily!... Are you going somewhere?'. There was disappointment in his voice.
But, Emily steeled herself for the blow.
'Yes, I was just...'
Emily faltered, looked at his face, looked down at her neatly painted toes and looked up again to find him searching her face. She took a step towards him.
'Where have you been, Mark?'
Mark dropped his gaze and shifted on his feet.
'Are you seeing someone?', he mumbled, not looking up.
'No', was all she said and smiled, in spite of herself.
That broke the tension in the corridor and the two lovers gave up their garb of indifference.
' I'm sorry I was away. I was...dealing with stuff...', he offered.
'Okay...', she said, unconvinced and unsure.
Mark realized he wasn't making much sense. He took a chance and reached out to hold her hand. The suddenness of his touch startled her. She tensed up and looked at him expectantly.
'Emily, all I want to say is, I think you're wonderful. Could we make things work out?'
We're so tied up in the race to be self-dependant and strong that we deny admitting to that gnawing, corroding need for companionship. So afraid of being vulnerable, we hide beneath armours of smart talk and being practical. It just takes one tiny glimmer of hope and the resolve comes crashing down.