The day of reckoning had finally arrived. Hazy winter morning with a slight drizzle would have normally evoked a strange sense of happiness in her. Today was different. The clouds perfectly prophesised the grim happenings of the impending day. She had already given him a call and talked about the meeting. He had understood almost exactly what was waiting for him, even though the embers of hope still simmered somewhere inside him. The lazy swaying of the tree in front of her porch, the incessant chirping of the birds, the deliciously hovering smell of steamy hot chocolate were unsuccesful in bringing her back to consciousness. Her mind was caught somewhere between the pangs of rift and the prospect of a new life, bereft of a familiar image but imperative nevertheless. This was essential. And it had to be done.

As she waited for his presence in that sparsely furnished,yet tastefully done,dinner booth all she could think was about the days gone by. The happier times when having a tiff meant getting back to each other in approximately ten minutes, when broken promises meant loosening of purse strings everytime(!), when reprimands from dad for the increasing phone bills meant exploiting mom’s mobile (but talking any which way), when fights with friends meant standing up against crap, when birthdays were neccesarily brought in with only one person, when the bond was for keeps. As the unspoken tears stung her eyeballs, she shook them off. It would not be her. Not today.

He entered exactly on time. A laidback person, he always knew that despite the hands of the clock moving at whatever speed his schedule will not be questioned, as the person waiting could be pacified with one warm and honest embrace. But today he was different too. The casual air had been replaced with a serious demeanour, the jocular disposition was gone and the goofy-yet-endearing smile had vanished. Probably he had replayed the events which were about to unfold,so many times in his memory that his mind was just too tired; to be active and fresh. Alert, nonetheless as the expected decision was about to change his life,forever. And he realised it all too well.

The minute she saw him asking the maî-tre d’ for his booth, her heart skipped a beat. Infact it pounded so loudly against her chest, she almost let out a gasp. He was looking even more handome in the dimly-lit atmosphere. The crisp black shirt and his favorite pair of jeans added oodles of charm to his already chiselled bronzed face. What was noticeable though, was how frazzled and tired he looked. Sleep deprived sounded like a kind term that minute, with regard to his condition. His hair was all over the place, he hadn’t shaved, almost as if he just didn’t care to preen and pamper himself anymore. Not when he had readied himself for the worst news which was about to be thrown at him; by the heartless bitch. She was halfway up from her seat, she did not want it to happen either. Maybe there did exist a better solution to all this. At once, she steadied herself and slumped back into her place. This had to happen. And if that meant putting an end to both their miseries, it had to happen NOW.

He pulled up the chair and settled into it. She cleared her throat. The uneasy calm was killing her. When she finally spoke,it was almost like a muffled cry,coming from the deepest pockets of her heart.

“Glad you could make it”, she finally mustered courage to say something so inane, she could have hit herself hard.

“Not a problem, if you wouldn’t have called I would have anyway”, he replied and for a minute she was taken aback.

“So this is it eh?” He had the air of expectancy writ large on his face, so much so that he sounded urgent.

“I guess it is.” She was growing weak by the second and such re-affirmations did nothing to help her cause.

“Surely you must have given it ample thought,after all its important for both of us.”

“You think Iam dumb enough to take such a crucial decision just in the nick of time,without thinking about the repurcussions?” She snapped, almost losing her composure which she had so carefully cultivated for this rendezvous.

“Iam sorry,did not mean to irk you. Was just trying to kid myself by looking for another way out of the whole mess”. He reasoned and she melted some more.

“No, dont be.It’s getting on my head now and maybe thats why I snapped. My apologies”. She knew she was curt and this was killing her but she could not afford to let go. Too much was at stake.

“Is there no way out?” She found herself asking the dreaded question which was so not on her menu for the day.

“If there was,believe me we would know. Maybe this was how it was meant to be. Life sucks.” For a change, he was being nothing but honest today.

“Life is not easy,it was never meant to be. Let’s not get into that part.It’s too worthless anyway”. It was the most decisive moment for her. That moment which came after hours of deliberation, countless verbal duels, numerous arguments, days of rumination and endless attempts at brokering peace. She was adamant to not get swayed by anything.Not even his pragmatism which had made her fall for him,which had made her love him every passing minute,which made her feel important when she was with him and which gave her the invisible tag of being the luckiest person on the face of this earth.

“You are right.Have a good life.I know you will.You deserve it every which way”. That’s all he could manage before his tide of emotions won over his manhood. Never had he imagined that she could be happy in a life, devoid of his presence. Maybe he was just selfish but she made him feel as much. But today,things were different. This WAS for real.

And in a fit of impulse he held her hand. She could have fought thousand battles against innumerable and unknown forces for that one sense. It brought back all the montages which had enriched her body and soul, the feverish anticipation against which she was so carefully guarded that night. All of a sudden her mind and body went limp,the weird sense of emptiness which washed away inside her made her sick with pain, she was numb as well as struggling to deal with the harsh blows life was throwing upon her. He was no different either. When she had said those dreaded words for which he had been preparing himself all throughout, he had no idea whatsoever that it would cause him so much distress,agony and heartache. Infact heartache would have been an understatement; that very moment he failed to understand that why was it called ‘heartbreak’. It seemed to him that every part of his body had broken too. Such was the intensity of the hurt that he found himself reaching towards her hand, even if it wasnt for fondness but mere stability. What he did not realise was his need for composure had knocked out the winds of some else’s sails.