The phone rang to pull her out of the stupor. Jena picked up the landline sitting in front of her.
It was her colleague.
“Hi, Jena’s line…. Sure, Audrey. I’ll take care of it.”
She had a task at hand. She had to complete the contract and send it to her boss before 5 pm today.
But today was a problem. She was distracted today. She was supposed to get married today.
If she hadn’t broken up with Kevin earlier.
She pulled her focus back to the laptop in front of her. She had been staring at the contract for nearly two hours now. And it was already 3:30 pm.
She got up and headed straight to the coffee machine. She needed a cup to make her feel better.
Holding the only thing that brought some warmth to her today, she came back and sat on her seat. She had run out of excuses to give to herself. She had tasks to complete.
It took every ounce of effort to focus, but she managed to complete the contract and emailed it to her boss at 4:45 pm. She had been working with Messer and Stark for five years now. She was the Senior Associate and had been the star employee since her first month of joining. But the star seemed to lose its sheen today.
She had broken up with Kevin for a reason. They wanted different things in life. It would have crumbled, died a natural death, if she hadn't finished it first.
So she reasoned with herself. For the past six months.
'Wanting everything else took priority over wanting to be with each other.'
At least it did, six months back.
She drifted back to staring at her screen for the next half an hour. Her mind kept reproducing images of Kevin and their time together. The wedding dress she had selected kept flashing across her eyes.
Her eyes drifted to the clock at the bottom corner of her laptop screen. It was 5:20 pm and it was a light day, for a change. She half wished it wasn’t so. She needed more distractions.
She shut her laptop, slid it in her bag and got up. She picked her purse from the side table, almost knocking the small bamboo tree over. She wondered why she hadn’t yet managed to throw away the plant that was the first gift from her ex-fiancée. Its leaves had started to dry up.
It was supposed to bring her luck. It had been bringing more pain for sometime now.
'I need to water it more often…..but should I?'
She shove the thought away and headed downstairs to the basement where her car was parked. She missed returning the end-of-the-day greetings from three colleagues on her way out. She missed their concerned glances too.
She felt lost.
She finally let the thought in. The thought that had been knocking at her door for the past six months.
'Should I have broken up with Kevin? Was it the right thing to do?'
She was walking with her head bowed and almost ignored the figure in front of her car, until it materialised in front of her eyes.
Kevin’s face was as charming as ever, but his eyes conveyed a bereaved soul. She halted in her path, staring at the eyes she had last seen six months ago.
They were less bruised then.
Her own eyes welled up and her lips parted to let some words out, but she failed at it miserably. Her feelings felt somewhat alien, but she could recognise them as a mix of agony, bereavement, anger and guilt.
The confidence with which she had called off the wedding had drained.
They kept staring at each other until a car honked and broke their trance. They shifted adjacent to her car. Kevin mustered up the courage and walked closer to her. He broke the silence.
“I hoped you must still be parking at your favourite spot, next to the elevator.”
All Jena could manage was a hint of a smile. She didn’t allow the tears to slip by yet. With wet eyes, she kept staring at the focus of her thoughts materialising in front of her. Kevin had been the only thing on her mind lately.
She knew she had to say something. She could bear the silence no longer. She blocked the looming impulse to break down in his arms.
“Well, looks like I wanted to stick with at least one of my favourite things.”
His expression changed to more sombre. She felt the same pain emanating from his eyes that she had been suffering from these past months.
“Yeah, I know. You have a habit of shoving away the good only to realise how much you treasured it."
Silence resonated many unsaid feelings. Then Kevin broke the pause again, with a question.
"Do you still have that bamboo plant?”
Tears broke free from her eyes. She felt the grip on her purse melting away and her body starting to tremble. Kevin reached out to hold her. He shared her pain.
“It’s okay. I know that you have been as miserable as me these past six months. We were always meant to be together.”
She let go of her purse and took refuge in his warm embrace. Her tears and sobs had a life of their own now. She couldn’t control them anymore.
They stood in an embrace for sometime which felt like a fleeting second to Jena. Then she broke free. She had a task at hand.
“You are right. Calling off our wedding was the biggest mistake of my life. I guess I was scared. Scared of losing you, of losing us to your ambition and mine. When you got that job offer from Seattle, I could see my worst fears taking shape. We are two people made up of ambition, Kevin. I knew one day we will have to choose between our careers, our ambitions, our dreams and each other. I thought of breaking it before it broke us.”
“I know, but breaking us apart broke us in the worst possible way, Jena. Can’t you see? Before our dreams could break us apart, we did. It was not just your fault. I should have fought for us. I guess I was consumed by anger at your decision. I think I was too proud to not let it happen. I thought you were rejecting me…”
She jumped in to halt that thought of his.
“I would never do that! What we had was very organic. Neither of us planned it. It happened because it was meant to be. And I guess, that’s why it hurt so much. Because it IS meant to be.”
Kevin caught her off guard and went down on his one knee. Before she could utter a word, he popped the question, again.
“Jena Lark, will you marry me….. for sure this time?”
She smiled with moist eyes. All she managed was a frantic nod.
Kevin got up and hugged her again.
“Then I further propose that we get married today. Before you change your mind again!”
“Today?!....Sounds perfect! And for the record, I couldn’t be surer about us. That will never change.” She didn’t want to waste time again. She had wasted six months, reeling under forced bereavement.
She cared no more about a wedding dress or rings. She just wanted to be with the man standing with her, even after everything that had been through.
They decided to head straight to the office of the Marriage Registrar. To tie the knots on the day they had fixed eight months ago. Kevin offered to drive.
On their way, she kept wondering how surreal the day had turned out to be. And that, what would have happened, if today was not today.