Sicily dLR's My Favorite Regret [1/2]

Sicily is a dear friend of mine. She writes better than I ever would. Ah, yes, and also, welcome to the angst.


He was bound to be another could-have-been.

She would welcome the morning of every weekday with the prospect of seeing him again. She would come in 30 minutes early and stare momentarily at the empty workstation behind hers with an unexplainable tinge of longing coursing through her veins. He would arrive and fill that space later, with an occasional tap on her back to greet her a good morning. She would mask her gladness by throwing him a casual “Hey..”, he would either tap her again with more force or shake the backrest of her chair in acknowledgement.

She would inhale sharply to steady her nerves, which curiously still happened after half a year of closely working with him. He would spend the first hour answering emails and phone calls and instant messages that immediately popped into his computer screen the moment he switches it on. She would be overly aware of the sound of his nimble fingers typing away on his keyboard and would be stealing glances at him through the reflection on her monitor.

He would call her a dozen horrendous nicknames during the eight and usually more hours they spent together, one after the other. She would respond to these names then realize it, and she would pretend to be angry at him, looking sideways at him with daggers flying out of her eyes. He would be amused with her reaction and laugh at her while coughing out his apologies. She would take one glance at his face and forget she was starting to get annoyed. And they would laugh together for a few minutes, not really understanding what the other was saying but completely aware of what was happening – the laughter was forging a stronger bond between them, beyond the professional partnership that started everything.

She would be busy reviewing UNIX codes, accepting impromptu requests from their partner team, and modifying the same reports for hours on end. He would be running around in meetings, attending to “immediate” issues, and talking with people on his mobile phone. After five, their teammates would leave one by one and soon they would be alone, staring at their computer screens, working in complete silence.

He would break the silence every time, sometimes with a question or with another nickname for her or with an invitation to eat dinner in the canteen downstairs. More than a few times she would diss going home early just to hear him say, “Let’s eat!” He would start small talk, usually with more teasing, then move on to more serious topics which mostly had something to do with her personal life. She would laugh at his curiosity, but would avoid looking at him in the eyes for fear of giving him more information than she would have wanted to be known.

He would offer to drive her home on the nights they had to stay late for official business. She would decline at first, but after a few pleas from him she would find herself sitting beside him inside his car. He would sit back comfortably, she would be still and silent but restless and nervous. She would feel her pulse racing from the moment he opened the car door to let her in up to the moment she closed her bedroom door when she arrived safely home.

He would call her up in the most unlikely times to ask about trivial things which may or may not involve work. She would store his text messages in her inbox long after she first read them, most of which contained nonsense and ramblings but would be precious to her just the same. He would jokingly blame her when something went wrong and would mockingly repeat some of the things she said which he found amusing. She, on the other hand, would take every chance she could get to bash his vanity and shelteredness.

He would always have that effect on her, she knew. He would talk softly, she would listen attentively and remember every single word which came out of his lips. He would sit unnecessarily close to her when they discussed something, she would get intoxicated with his fresh, clean scent. His hand would brush against hers, she would be almost certain that he let his fingers purposely linger a few split-seconds longer than what was necessary. He would sincerely ask her to smile when he saw her frowning, she would take one look at his boyish expression and all seemed a little better.

He would joke about missing her, falling for her, and she would immediately switch to another topic, turning away from him to conceal her flushed cheeks and suppressed smile. He would repeat those words over and over again, over and over again she would convince herself that it was more than just another teasefest. And in those moments when they were alone, sitting next to each other just talking or in absolute silence, smiling or laughing, she knew that there had to be some truth behind his jestful tone.

But it wouldn’t matter. He would continue opening doors for her, making up more grotesque nicknames, acting upon ingenious ways to annoy her for anything under the sun. He would perhaps even get past dropping not-so-subtle hints and move on to telling her straight out what the real deal was, no jokes, no punch lines. But she wouldn’t change. She would struggle to act normal around him, brush off any of his comments about caring for her as part of another joke, and turn away from him whenever his eyes got too intense, burning right into hers.

Because whenever she looks at him, she would be reminded that another soul was longing to have her close and look into her eyes while whispering the same three words that she would hear from him only in his punch lines. Whenever he says he misses her, she would hear another voice, sincere and sweet, without any trace of jest. And whenever she saw his beautiful, beautiful face smiling back at her, images of another’s sad tear-stained face would flash in her mind and that would be enough to bring her back to her senses.

Yes, he would be another could-have-been. And although she would always be wondering about what could have happened if they met when she was still a free soul, she would choose to stay and cherish the beauty of what already is.

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