Dedicated to the person I have been writing for
“Do not hesitate to call.”
She’d come across this note from a man she barely knew in the course of her recent apartment detrashing frenzy – one of the results of being deserted by Rashmi. (The other results were alternate bouts of crying and anger, necessary and unnecessary phone calls to friends and family, and long, rapid walks she took when she could no longer stand the emptiness of the apartment and being alone in it.)
So: Paul – do not hesitate to call. It even rhymed.
What was Paul like? She barely remembered. He’d been a colleague for about a year, who had shown interest in her in a round-about, rather timid way. He’d written a letter and put it in her in-house mailbox before leaving on a two-week vacation. She had not replied until the very last day before his return, telling him that he must have misread her to suppose she might be open to his advances, that she had no interest whatsoever in a relationship, and a bunch of other things – all pointing him in the desired bugger-off direction.
They’d gone out to lunch afterwards, and she had more or less reiterated her arguments. He had not offered much resistance, had not sworn passionate and eternal love. If anything, he seemed dejected but at the same time pleased to be with her.
The day of that lunch date with Paul was also the day Rashmi had returned to her life. He’d come into the same restaurant with a friend. She’d noticed him and he had noticed her, and they’d exchanged a few glances, but had not made contact.
Two days later he rang her doorbell, and from then on it was hot pursuit on his part. Telling her he’d always loved her deep inside, without realizing it or admitting it to himself. That she was the one and only great love of his life. How much he regretted having treated her badly in the past, breaking off their relationship for some dalliance with someone else. That he’d rather commit suicide than live without her.
She’d decided to give it another try. She wasn’t exactly in love with him. That was long gone. And wasn’t there some satisfaction to be derived from being so adamantly worshiped by someone? Who seemed hell-bent on rectifying the mistakes of the past?
About a year later he left her again. First, he was gone for two weeks, never answering her calls to his mobile. Then one devastating text message, “we are thru. You do not love me, said so yourself. You don’t deserve my love. I’ll come by some time to pick up my stuff.”
She’d made a scene when he came, screaming, ranting and raving, even hitting him. Not a word from him. Nothing but cold rejection. He’d calmly gathered his belongings and slammed the door shut behind himself.
“Do not hesitate to call.” For some reason, she had not thrown away the card this was written on along with a phone number.
It had reminded her of Paul’s letter, which she had not thrown away. Rashmi had found it when going through her things and made a scene, wanting to know who this dumbshit was and what had passed between them. (Rashmi was extremely jealous and would even open personal letters addressed to her.) After this, the letter was gone.
Perhaps the number was no longer valid.
There was only one way to find out.
She dialed the number in the evening.
“Yes. Who is this?”
“Marlen. Do you remember me? We were colleagues at –”
“Of course I remember you, Marlen. How have you been?”
They talked for half an hour, with surprising warmth, and the outcome was a lunch date the next day.
And this time Rashmi would not ruin her lunch date. Even if he showed up in person, glaring at her from across the room.
Rashmi was not going to mess with her life any more. Period.
– James Steerforth ( © 2010 )
Sparked by ‘hesitation’ at One Single Impression.