Rachel stared at the invite which had popped up on her screen, when she logged on to facebook. She wondered why she was even on fb in the first place. She had signed up ages ago but had never bothered to upload any pictures or write status updates as it kept demanding of her every day. It was a high school reunion invite – after so many years. Apparently there was one bunch of very active alumni who had thought of this. And, after floating the idea around virtually, others from various corners of the globe had thought it would be great to meet, back in the school campus for a reunion. And, so, there it was- she had already got her online invite by virtue of her saying that she used to attend that particular school; a general invite had been sent to all those on fb. As she saw the gushing comments, the smiley icons and the ‘likes’ that kept appearing next to the invite by the others who were evidently looking forward to it, her thoughts were a million miles away. Could she really go back to school? Would that turn the clock of life back too? She had spent the last decade of her life trying to hide from society, after the suicide of her son. The images came intruding, even though she willed them not to....her husband walking out on her because of their own bitter rowing in the aftermath……..

She didn’t want to face the others. Just their pitying look that said ‘this was not the Rachel we knew’. They knew the Rachel who was confident, bossy at times but with a heart of gold, they knew the Rachel who was outgoing, loved shopping and not the overweight reclusive person who she had become now. There was no way she was going for that reunion, she decided…….


Ivy puffed and panted as she opened the front door. She had not been far- only up the road and back. But it felt like she’d run a marathon…. No, it wasn’t fair at all, it wasn’t her fault at all that she got diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder in her late teens, just as she left school and entered University, from which she had to eventually drop out, a disorder which would wreck her life till she didn’t know which was night which was day, each day rolled into the other…. It gradually robbed her of her ability to walk unaided.

And, so, when she saw the invite, she could not even process it at first- she had just managed to get up and barely stay awake… it took her a good few days to even understand what that meant- the doctors had foretold that the disorder would affect her thinking and reasoning… and so it had…. she just had days of fuzziness…. from which she experienced occasional patches of lucid thinking….. She had been one of the brightest students that school had ever produced. “This is the first thing that’s come through my door in years, that’s not a hospital appointment…” she smiled wryly. “Maybe I might actually go!”


Paul was caught in a dilemma- people on social media constantly asking him whether he could come. After all he had been Head boy- popular among his classmates and teachers alike. They had prophesied a bright future for him. And, indeed he had started off well and straight away had had a meteoric rise in his business. He smiled a philosophical smile as he ruminated on the deals gone awry, the sudden banking crisis and the collapse of his world… both financially and the breakdown of his marriage and his wife taking the children and leaving…. Downsizing from his luxury home to a modest place….Would he want to visit his school again, he asked himself this question. If he did, he was sure, that others would be more disappointed than he was. After all the school had often boasted that it had produced an entrepreneur, in the early days of his success.…. 

In the days that followed, there was nothing but talk of the reunion whenever they opened face book. To Rachel, Ivy and Paul, it was like biting on a sore tooth over and over. For some unfathomable reason, they found themselves watching the proceedings, the countdown to the big day…. with the kind of bittersweet pain…. The school which to each of these three had been a place where they were someone….

Perhaps it was because of this- the constant bombarding into her senses of the grand night…. In spite of herself, Rachel found that inside of her there was a small curiosity that arose. ‘How would it be, to see all those folks again?’ They were really from the pre social media era. Social media had become a ‘thing’ only in recent few years and even now many from her generation were looking at it with askance. Even the invite seemed to have been issued by the good old fashioned postal system. The online stuff was only for keeping up with the times, keeping the excitement up and for the benefit of those who had moved to other corners of the globe.

Maybe… just maybe, it wouldn’t be uncomfortable after all, she told herself…. and maybe I’ll go there when the party is already in full swing… so I can decide whether I want to join them or not. At least, that way there would be less talking… she decided.

Ivy put on a loose outfit and threw a stole around her so no one could really see anything of the actual her. It was already dark when she reached. Good! She thought. Under the cover of darkness would be better….

As she struggled and got out of the taxi, she asked herself why she had bothered to turn up. “Do I want their pity, do I want that extra bit of solicitousness?” she wondered.

She knew no one there would say anything, but she would be able to see it in their eyes. “Poor Ivy… how much promise she had….. look at her… she looks so old and haggard. … must be terrible to live like that…..”

Or maybe the unkind ones might think – Oh here’s another scrounger.

She peered inside the well-lit hall, still keeping half hidden in the darkness of the trees.

“Oh Tom, you really mustn’t!” she could see Sarah the flirt of their batch… still the same, coquettish, talking to Tom who had been popular with all the girls even back then. Tom seemed to be whispering something private into her ear as she giggled and looked at him…

Tom and Sarah still looked good… she thought enviously…

She knew she too had had that confidence many moons ago. But now her energy was taken up in just existing…. What could she even talk about- “Oh, you know yesterday, I managed to go for a walk outside my house and I didn’t collapse- that’s my achievement for the day… no make it, perhaps month….”

“Or, I don’t have any friends. They’ve given up on me. I can never predict when I’m going to be well…”

“I should have never come, I was a fool”, she told herself and slowly edged her way out. As she came out of the gates, she felt wobbly…. It had been too much… she knew she would need to sit somewhere….

There was a tiny little café just off the road. She slowly walked in there and sat down at the furthest table. Suddenly, she stiffened… two people had just entered…. She knew they too had been in their class. Their names eluded her….. Oh dear… she thought miserably, there was nowhere to run now….

Rachel peeped into the gaily lit school hall. Seeing the happy faces, the dance music and the general air of merriment…. She knew she could never in a million years go into this.

She tried to hide as she saw other cars drive up and other sounds and stray snippets of conversation came to her ears…..

“Wow! He’s been made chairman this year”…..

“Oh, did you also do that cruise to the Carribean?”

And, then the one that felt as though a knife was put right through her heart…. “Ah yes, my son topped his University”

In her hurry to get away, she rapidly back tracked a few steps and bumped into somebody. “Sorry…. I’m so sorry…. I didn’t see….” she began and then she saw it was a face that felt slightly familiar. She could see that the man in front of her too knew he had seen her before. Almost at the same time, they pronounced hesitantly,



Paul looked nervous too. There was an awkward pause where each felt that they had to explain their presence there, outside that rather unusual place this night- their old school. Sounds of the merry-making inside were audible.

To end the impasse and get home quick, Rachel said, “Oh, I came this evening to see what the reunion would be like… but I guess I am not really ready to go in and meet everyone. Too much has happened since I walked out that gate all those years ago…” She paused as these words came out in a rush.

Paul nodded, “me too”.

Somehow, those two words seemed so empathic, like he really understood. She looked up at him… she noticed that there was a tiredness about him that seemed beyond his age.

And what about you? Rachel wanted to ask him, but felt it would be too intrusive.

As though reading her thoughts, Paul said… “I guess you’re wondering why I’m here outside too…” “Yes…” she trailed off, her curiosity piqued, in spite of herself.

“Well, when one has seen one’s business come crashing down, seen the wife leave with the kids… I think it is sobering…. he replied quietly. It was then she vaguely remembered seeing snippets of Paul’s successful business and then with the recession…. Another small notice somewhere, of the company going into Administration…..So this was the aftermath…. A tired-looking, ‘older- than-his-years’ Paul. There were few minutes of companionable silence in the darkness…. there didn’t seem to be any need to say anymore. Each one instinctively understood why the other had turned up but then decided not to go in, at the last minute. They slowly retreated as though by tacit consent, from the sounds inside which were growing raucous by the minute as the party had reached the stage of having imbibed ‘lose-your-inhibitions’ levels of alcohol.

They walked slowly down the dark alleyway till they came to the car park. Somehow neither wanted to leave each other in a hurry….. Almost at the same time, they tentatively looked at each other and “Coffee?” and laughed…. They entered the little corner coffee house…..It wasn’t even awkward…. It wasn’t a man-woman, date type thing. It went beyond that… It just felt that in that moment, only they could fully understand the other. As they entered the little shop, they avoided the front tables and headed towards the back ones…..And there was sitting Ivy…. their school mate… She looked at them half embarrassed, half guilty as though she needed to explain her presence. As their eyes met…. somehow that didn’t seem necessary….“So, you too came and saw and left….” Ivy asked them quietly… They nodded and sat down. They saw the crutch discretely by her side.

The waitress seemed to sense the moment and without her bright “now what can I get you sir and madam”, voice, she quietly deposited some cups of coffee and a teapot. Hesitantly, they began to talk at first and then something shifted….. and it was as though they could see the scars of the battles each of them had waged in the last so many years…. And camaraderie developed in that little café that night between people who had planned to attend one get together but ended up attending another. No one quite knew how, but they were exchanging phone numbers and planning on meeting again. “But, I might not feel well enough in the last minute,” Ivy warned. “Oh, that’s ok, we’ll come to you then”, said Rachel and Paul smiled in agreement. As they walked out, it was Paul who voiced what they all felt. This reunion… somehow I feel this is the real one”. 

September 25, 2020 15:15

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03:38 Oct 13, 2020

Well written. I know you read On the Trails, I invite you to read Deep Intrigue and tell me what you think.


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Vajeda Kardar
11:41 Oct 07, 2020

Wowieee! Amazing story. You brought three sad stories to an intersection. Beautiful narration. I enjoyed reading your story. Plz do read mine too.


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Ola Hotchpotch
10:42 Oct 03, 2020

Nice story.


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09:27 Oct 03, 2020

Great story. The plot and the backstory were great, and realistic because you gotta admit that nobody is perfect and there is no rollercoaster that only goes up. Sorry, Augustus. Your quote from the Fault In Our Stars will not be forgotten. I've heard many stories about successful starters that start to go downhill in their late 20s or later, but Paul's story was unique. Brilliant piece. Keep writing. Edit: I would suggest a more spazzy title that fits the mood more. Maybe something like "You've Got Mail" or "Hello Again"


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Karen McDermott
08:53 Oct 03, 2020

Nice story. Not all lives are the lives lived by the braggarts on social media. You only need to use three dots in an ellipsis by the way, but other than that your story flowed well. Good job!


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