3 hours. 3 hours and 16 minutes, to be exact. It didn’t matter anyway. She had completely lost track of time after his call. At first, she’d thought it was a joke of some kind. She had grown used to him being bitingly funny and unusually sarcastic at times. But today was different. What started out as a tiny plume of smoke had slowly revealed itself as an erupting volcano, destroying everything around it. All the memories, each and every second of that relation had been charred beyond measure. She was on fire. She was frozen. She was numb. She had been set ablaze by the allegations thrown at her. So this was what it had come to. Too many questions asked, but she didn’t know how to answer them. If she could answer them. Maybe she had been ignoring things, oblivious. Maybe she had taken things for granted. Maybe she had taken him for granted. Maybe she had cared way too much, longed for him more than usual. She was only human.
He was free at last. Finally, it was done and dusted with. There would be no more of that cloying relationship. No more of her. Free as a bird, released from its cage. He knew that sooner than soon enough, she would become a distant memory. He’d burnt the book and only little scraps of the pages remained now. They would be washed down before long. He shrugged it off, and leapt merrily towards another day at work.
Her day at work had been going as planned. It was a balmy Friday morning. She was off at her usual hour. Her breakfast consisted of a cup of coffee and a sandwich made in haste. Summer was approaching, and approaching much faster than she expected. One look in the mirror told her she was ready: bright red dress, steel black stilettos. She had known, instinctively, that this would be no ordinary day. She tried calling him out of habit but quickly remembered he would be fast asleep. “Silly,” she had thought. The time difference had never mattered in her love before.
Across an ocean, it was still dark. But he had not been able to sleep any more. He’d gone over it for days and had decided this was it. The arrow had been released and there was no coming back. It was a dead end. He’d felt the pressure mounting on him ever since she’d come into her life. She’d been a staggering success in college, while he was just about average in everything. But he’d liked her boldness and the way she conducted herself. They’d clicked after just a few conversations and he’d thought she was the one. She’d moved overseas for work and desperately wanted him to join her. Things were rosy initially, but reality started to sink in. Slowly he realized that the picture was much more complicated than it seemed. Each moment had felt like a loop around his neck, trying to strangle him with all its might, oozing nothing but hatred. He’d known he had to break it to her, and he had to do it that day.
At work, she had been beaming internally, thinking that her hard work was finally paying off. Her ambitions would indeed come to fruition. There were no doubts about it by the way she was working. She had taken a second to thank God for all he’d bestowed on her: a loving family, a successful career and a man who loved her. When he mobile had began flashing his number, she had dashed to the nearest rest lounge and hit the green button on the screen, not wanting to miss his call.
The distance had been taking its toll; the time difference not helping. The love was gradually waning, giving way to insecurity and darker feelings. The idea of having to quit and leave his comfort zone was deadly. Life was easier when it was simple, for him. He knew he wasn’t a man for challenges; he accepted that about himself. He’d waited for her usual morning call, wanting to get it over with. He’d waited for a few minutes more before dialling the first number on his Favourites list.