AJAR by Ankita Banerjee

He was at the counter flirting with a pixie cut. My eyes followed him the whole evening and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I ordered my fifth gin and tonic, and when Sofie asked, “Why don’t you go talk to him?” I sniggered.

It started raining outside – the worst kind. He was now purring to the little black dress at the corner table. She was small, with a little hunch on her back. I went out for a cig and argued with the voice in my head.

“Perhaps it’s life coming to a full circle.”

“Or this is how I will again make a fool of myself if I stay any longer.”

“Perhaps he has changed.”

“He was sniffing the humpy’s hair like a wild bunny prepping up for a restroom quickie. So most likely, no.”

I took a deep drag on cigarette under the parking shade when the Apocalypse came.

He said, “So we meet again”. I said, “Shut up” and we kissed - through the cataclysm and until the end of the cervix of etcetera.

Later when we called an Uber and drove past the old town, the wisps of the night harked back to the old days when our world was lit with a thousand glowing worms. Back in the apartment we fucked, like old times - on the couch, against the door, in the tub, on the desk chair. When we craved food, I popped some corns.

It was the next best thing to cigarette after sex.

The sweat still turned the top of his ear bright pink. He still swirled his tongue clockwise inside the mouth like a broken down washing machine. I still felt clouds forming in my belly when he watched me getting off.

I knew him, he knew me, and at that point it was all that mattered.

When the rain softened outside he pulled up the blinds a little and carried me in front of the mirror. In the sodium lights from down the street he glistened like a gorgeous tornado and I melted in his clasp. He lifted my hair and whispered softly, “Are you real?” I think he asked that to the girl in the mirror, hence I said nothing. I wasn’t sure if I knew her.

For the brief moments we slept – on and off – I saw fragments of a dream that never reached its finish line. But he was there, making the same old grunting noises while asleep, and at that point it was all that mattered.

In the morning he left without kissing goodbye, just like old times. Later I found his note on my desk.

When Sofie asked, “Are you going to see him again?” I simply shrugged.

The following year I heard he had joined a cult. One day he just left home and hitchhiked down South to find faith, or drugs, or a secret subway to the heaven.

Sofie smirked. “Who knew he could find a different obsession?” I took a long chug of my beer and pushed down the lump in my throat.

I wondered how he is managing in the cold. He had always been a beach guy after all. I wondered if he has shaved his head now. I wondered if we could find each other across the room ever again.

When I wake up in the middle of the day, feeling like a spurned ashtray, I go back to his note over and over again.

“Until next time”, it said.

But how long is one exasecond anyway?

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