Choices Apart | Short Story

We sat across each other, and out of habit I rested my heels on his thigh.As far as intimacy was concerned, that was the farthest we'd ever went.

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“Do you mind?” he asks gritting another cigarette between

his teeth. 

“Unhnn,” I nod sideways as I pop a cigarette in my mouth as well.

For a moment I saw something on his face. 

‘Guilt’ I wanted to say, but thought the better of it.

We sat across each other, and out of habit, I rested my heels on his thigh. 

As far as intimacy was concerned, that was the farthest we’d ever went. Nothing beyond that. 

He always shifted uncomfortably at the slightest hint of my touch, but never did he try denying it.

He’s absentmindedly looking at the muted TV while I’m looking at him.There is a thin wall of smoke between us. 

“Why are we here?” I ask him, shifting my heels further on his lap. 

There Is silence for a few seconds.

“I don’t know,” he replies after sometime, 

like a tired whisper.

“Is she that bad?” 

I ask, laughing at my own joke.

Poor guy, I thought. 

This time he lets out a heavier breath, and dismally looks down at his hands, like as if I was asking him the same question repeatedly

But this was the first time I’d ever asked him that. 

“She keeps asking me to choose,” he finally says looking defeated while lifting his hand and pulling the cigarette towards his mouth. I thought I saw him grin a little, like as if he was mocking at himself. 

“And?” I probed.

“I wish I could…”, he says and stops mid sentence

and then he quickly lights another smoke.

“I wish that too,” I almost whisper  inside my head, slightly rubbing my heels on his thigh, 

“But it isn’t always easy, to choose between what you need and what they want ”. He says, maybe the fresh cigarette had made him more wiser than what I could perceive or had it given him enough courage to blurt out the truth? I still failed to understand what he was trying to tell.

He mockingly looks at my blank face for a few seconds and continues staring at the muted TV which is now showing Alia Bhat dancing for an item number we let the silence pass till the song gets over.

It is just the sound of the fan and our mouths blowing smoke.

Suddenly he crushes his last cigarette in the ashtray and rudely gets up without asking. My feet drops and bounces on the couch. I shockingly look at him.

But he bluntly ignores me and quickly stuffs the cigarette packet in the corner pocket of his bag and walks briskly towards the washroom.

When he’s back, he reluctantly picks up his bag and walks towards the door, even without looking at me.

“Are you thinking about leaving her?” I ask him as loud as I can to rather trying to grab his attention.

He almost turns to look at me, but stops midway and looks down. And then he walks away without saying a word.

I get up irritated, make myself a glass of whiskey and get back to the couch and try siping it as slow as possible. 

The room still heavily smells of smoke. 

I retrieve the same pack of cigarette from my pocket which I had sneaked out from his bag while he went for a leak, I turn it over in my palm pull out the last cigarette, and then I throw the empty packet across the room.

Once I’m done with my drink, I pull out my phone, block his number wherever it’s required and delete his number as well.

He never could make a choice but at least I could…

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