QB Short Stories

Beauty Wrapped in Canvas Shoes!

She kept wiping her tears off. One after the other. What I did not understand was if they were the tears of happiness or tragedy. I wasn’t even sure that this was what she had been doing until the time I finally saw her wet eyes later. She tried that I do not see that but the redness in them could not be hidden.
We were walking on the road in that rainy weather and for the first time, she was walking ahead of me, not even looking around even once. It was strange. I saw her hands and her arms. They were moving continuously near her face, as far as I understood from behind her, which told me clearly that she had a lot of tears in her eyes. However, I did not want her to know that I knew so I kept talking about what I had been talking about. Rushali. The new girl in my life about whom we had been talking for the past few days and she, well, she always gave me the right piece of advice that I always wanted from her.
I never understood how, she always knew what to say and when to say it. But somewhere I felt that talking about Rushali was not what she liked much. I felt confused. However, as I had no clearance to my confusion so I continued what I had been doing earlier.
A few minutes later, I stopped. I stopped talking, I stopped walking, but she still didn’t turn around to give that look to me she would always have on her face every time I would leave a topic of conversation in between. She did not even stop. She kept walking. The movements of her arms had also stopped however her feet kept going.
I stopped and I looked at her. Head to toe. Beautiful hair but short ones came down to the upper strap of her bra which was visible from the translucent back of her white top that had an amazing harry potter wand on the front of it that I had seen when she had just arrived in front of me that evening. That white was a perfect blend with the amazing dark-blue skin-fit jeans along with the grey canvas shoes she wore that hugged her feet a little beyond her ankles with black shoe-laces that would move a little as her feet moved just like her hair would flip from side to side as she stepped every step forward. I could not see her face, but oh my! She was beautiful. Slim but not skinny. Then, I saw her right hand come out of the pocket of her jeans and saw that black-chained wrist watch I had gifted her a few weeks ago on her birthday.
She finally stopped, took a stand, then turned around and looked at me. Everything faded. I saw wet-red eyes. The green eyes that always had a sparkle in them shone a little brighter that evening. That was the sparkle of water in them. The salt water. I wanted to ask her why she had those stars in her eyes that shone so bright but could not. Next thing, she started walking again, I started walking again and just like all the other times, she listened to me. Each and every word, carefully. She listened to me and then, as we reached the place where her car was, she said good-bye, decided upon the time to meet the next day, as we did each day, and went home.
I kept thinking why she had cried but could not understand. I felt that she would tell me about anything that troubled her. After all, we were best friends. I mean, we are best friends. She never mentioned anything that evening. The following day too, she met me, listened to me but did not utter a word. However, gratefully, her eyes were the usual green that day. No red in them to make it feel horrifying. This was what kept happening for several days when a few months ago, I got an invitation.
I opened the door, looked at the courier boy, he handed it over to me and asked for my signature, which I followed and took the packet inside. I had been going for a shower at the moment as in a while, I was supposed to meet her, after about a week, since (as per what she told me through text) she had been on a trip abroad for a week. I kept the packet on the table and proceeded to take the shower, got dressed in the blue sweat-shirt she had gifted me on my previous achievement of getting selected into NSD, Mumbai, the blue Levi’s jeans and black shoes. I grabbed the car keys from the table and was about to step out of the house with the key of the door in my hand when I caught sight of the packet and got reminded that I had to see what it was. I thought it would just take a minute. What it actually took was more than a lifetime.
I picked it up and saw the clean white envelope with my address printed on it, marked with the sender’s name too. It was her sister’s name on it. I flipped it around with a little curiosity in me now that what could it be that Riana sent me through a letter.
As I saw the flip side, I saw a quotation on the outside of the envelope itself.
“We miss her.”
I opened it up in a hustle and read the invitation card. It was an invitation for her funeral.
I tripped, breaking the glass of the table from my elbow, leaving it bleeding. I do not remember how long I stayed there but the next time ever that I moved out of my house was three days later, to proceed to the cemetery.
The trip abroad had been a trip to the hospital for a week after a life threatening disease that she fought with for three long years, the previous one being the most brutal. As a result of which,  she couldn’t be saved. I later found out all about it from Riana.
She was gone. She had left me there, in those memories, alone, to walk down the roads in the rainy days alone, to talk to myself as a ghost, all alone.
I finally realised how lonely I had made her feel in the past one year when I was with her technically, but not emotionally.
She, my best friend, had gone to a place where she might find the one she deserves, someone better a friend than me. Yet, what made me happy is that I realised what true love is. She made me experience that even after she was gone.
The only thing I still want an answer from her for is that why she hid it from me all this while. Irony in this is that I know why she did it but I still want an answer from her. That keeps me a reason to meet her again, once at least.

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