280 days

The first night, XX meets XY in a burst of music. The lilting refrains of an old song, and suddenly it comes to them, the answer- or perhaps, it is a new set of questions. They meet again that night, their cracks resonating within each other, their lips touching with the hesitant feel of having waited for a long time. But love, you know, is like learning to ride a bicycle. You’re going to fall a few times, but once you know how, you always remember it. It doesn’t matter which bike you ride.

The sun rises the next morning, illuminating them with a wintry pallor. Beauty is often fleeting, and it leaves behind in its wake, the burden of actions- actions that determine if it will be rekindled. No creation is without consequences, and the greater the masterpiece, the longer it is one has to pay.

Everything is tinged with a new light in the first trimester, even the darkness. They feel it growing- expectation, anticipation, happiness, fear, inexplicable bouts of sadness, of excitement. That terrifying realisation that there is always someone else in the picture now, that amazing feeling of joy, that there is always someone else. They’re still wary, sceptical of their fates, afraid of admitting that there is a tangible thread of something that connects them. Yet they’re silently hopeful, of everything working out.

The next three months find them quieter, yet more confident in their skin. They have accepted that they will never be entirely ready for what is to happen. They’ve felt the kicks of reality, of challenges, of stressful schedules and self-doubt, even when they’re trying their best. They’ve also felt the beauty again, fleeting but true, in the oddest of situations. Sometimes, they voice what they’ve been wishing for, for time to freeze in that moment of bliss, the morning light on sleepy faces, the warmth of each other’s arms, the comforting presence nestled within. Then they shake their heads in amusement at their frivolous fantasies as they leave for work.

One day, with only three more months to go, she cries, as he holds her, whispering that it will be alright. “That it will be over, you mean”, she says. Like all manners of routine, a dangerous inertia has crept in, its warmth cushioning them, giving them something to care for, yet holding them back. They know things will be different soon, better, for a new life waits. It’s still a scary prospect- “What if I don’t know how to deal with it?” she asks. But he is wiser, and has seen farther, “You will know, because Time teaches us all.” he says.

The final night is one much like the first in some ways, and yet not in others. There is music, there is love, but there is a sad kind of understanding that is alien to first meetings.  His touch sends shivers of a different kind across her body, the chill of a dying hand. He cries a little tonight; she tries to but she can’t. There is an odd calm within her, the kind that comes not with the absence of fear, but an absence of feeling altogether- she knows there will be no respite from emotions once the next day arrives. There is only light surrounding them- a dim, hazy light that unites their shadows as one.

Then the water breaks.

*Published on The Scribbled Stories*