It takes two minutes to microwave, is what the cover of the instant noodle packet says, but it actually takes a minimum ten; when you include the time taken to build up the will to walk up to the microwave at the middle of the night.
However the total time was still less than the time it takes to cook up something healthy for your body which was at least two hours, one hour spent convincing yourself that you need it and the other to actually cook it up, depending on what it was. Usually whenever we were given a choice, it was the human nature to go for the more time saving method over health.
The sound of the microwave was masking the soft ticking of the clock. The small hand of the clock was resting below twelve, while the long hand had already done quite an amount of circles to reach it's current position, between one and two, midnight.
I was clad in the red dress that I had bought online which took around two weeks to get delivered, but you had said it was obviously worth the wait, and the way it hugged my curves was the sole proof that you were right. The scented candles at the centre of the table for two, now a quarter of it's actual size, smelled of rose amidst a smell of turpentine. You liked how it reminded you of a rainforest, but for me; of you.
A candlelit dinner was the perfect way to spend our ten year anniversary, if only you weren't this late.
I scraped the dried parabolic wax puddles using my nails and stopped to scrape my black nail polish off, a habit I had developed after all those times you've left me waiting at restaurants ordering a strong coffee instead of cheap wine, because I wanted to stay sober till the time you had arrived, very late with different excuses each time. Now my nails looked hangered and rather eerie with uneven bits of polish left amidst the dark background, the candles barely doing it's job at illuminating our caravan sized dining room.
It takes one minute and fifteen seconds for the tomato mixed cheesy smell of the noodles to take over the space around it.
I poured myself another glass of wine as I resisted the urge to glance up at the wall clock again, my gift for you on our first wedding anniversary, with a yellow bird screaming every time an hour had passed. You said I was a lot like that bird and I had wondered whether it was because the bird was small and cute or whether it was because of all the noise it made. You'd laugh every time I'd ask you that and kiss my forehead to distract me.
The microwave started to beep furiously the same way my alarm does when I usually refuse to acknowledge it until you put your arm over my head to silence it, mumbling to yourself of how it's still too early to wake up, asking why on earth I had kept it in the fist place. Then I'd whisper in your ear that you have a meeting to attend at eight and that it's already seven forty five. You'd splint up like a wined doll and get ready fast meanwhile I get out of the bed lazily to cook you something nice. It takes you fifteen minutes to get ready, the same time it takes for a fancy breakfast to reach our rubber-wooden dining table ready to be consumed. You'd run over to the kitchen to tell me that you'd be missing breakfast because you're late, only to hear me say, “It's still seven fifteen.” Then you'd heave a heavy sigh as you'd collapse on to a nearby chair, too tired to complain, mustering up enough courage to face the clock head on, only to realise what had happened. A small smile would creep its way through your plum pink lips, displaying your relief.
I tapped my finger on the table to prevent the ticking from pulling me in to a form of daze, hypnotizing me as I waited, each tick more deafening than the other. We had this table made after carefully picking up the wood. No. Correction- I had carefully picked up the wood and placed the order by the time you had arrived to the shop. The shop keeper had explained for twenty eight minutes on why rubber was an environment friendly choice for a table. The tables were made after the tree was out of rubber milk, a fact that had impressed me that time. You had arrived there after thirty minutes, the two minute gap was the time it took me to convince myself to invest on a rubber table over a beautiful mahogany one. Of course you had to go with my choice, one of the many prices you had to pay for being late.
It takes six minutes to boil an egg. It's also the time it takes for you to come home from your office, but you'd always be an extra twenty four minutes late. By the time you'd arrive, the boiled egg would've been consumed by my hungry stomach in-between finishing my ‘work from home' projects. You'd say you had to over work or that it took you extra time to finish work, but you'd promise to arrive on time the next day.
A promise you've broken so many times that it would've even made a Guinness record.
Even on a day like today, you've made me wait. I made a mental note to never forgive you this time.
I rested my left cheek on my right arm, which was a painful posture to stay in wearing a tight dress, but somehow it made me feel as if this moment was real. My left hand played around with the half empty wine glass on the table. My body was now numb to the pain of my posture and the bigger pain in my heart, the same way it had desensitized to the aroma of the noodles. They probably needed another round of reheating, but I refused to move.
I tilted the wine glass as I glanced around through its red liquid, as if the filter would change my view. My eyes rested on your ash tray. It still carried the burnt pieces of the cigarette which you had held between the same lips that you used to say, "Smoking kills!". Below the tray were my medical records which had triggered you to smoke, which I had tried burn down with your cigar itself, but you had stopped me. You had then hugged me tight as I cried to sleep on your chest, while you fought to hide your own tears, to be the pillar you had promised to be when you said “I do” years back.
My eyes warmed up with a familiar heaviness, threatening to fall down ruining my mascara. I was allergic to the water proof mascaras, and the last time I had applied one, I had to be hospitalised. Luckily you were only two minutes away from home that day. The doctor had said that if we were late even by a few more minutes, I would've died. For the next few weeks you had started to work awfully on time, traumatised, but a zebra can't change its stripes, neither can you fix your habit.
Surviving an acute allergic reaction was nothing compared to waiting for you every day.
Will he not come today?
Why was he late?
Was he alright?
Did he leave me?
The same way you had different excuses every time, I had different anxieties and insecurities, till that one day had arrived where one of my worst nightmares came true.
Since I was old enough to understand the meaning of being left alone, I've been affraid of waiting. When my dad had left, keeping my mom waiting for him, I knew he was never going to return. When my mom was even a minute late to pick me up from school, I knew she'd have forgotten my existence. When the cute guy from middle school sat with me every lunch, but never brought the topic; prom out, I knew it was pointless to wait for him to ask me to prom. Then in highschool you came along, thirty minutes late for the most important lecture, panting as you took the empty seat next mine, wondering if I'd be kind enough to share my text book with you. We ended up sharing not just my textbook, but our lives.
Being late was your thing.
Funny how even after all this time, I still couldn't get used to it.
Next to the microwave, on the ground was the paper bin now overflowing with handwritten letters to you, each only took three seconds to get crumpled under the writer's own hands compared to the days and months, invested on writing them. After all they were for the you, who will eventually have to live without me. They were by no means an aid for the current me, cursed for an eternity without you.
The fact that life was a rollercoaster ride was true, for one minute we were expecting a new family member after years of failed attempts at pregnancy, then in the next few minutes we were forced to accept that it was a growing tumour, not a baby. Turns out that some tumours gave a false positive pregnancy test and whatever I had been feeling were psychological presentations of my desire for a child. How absurd! Back then I had thought life couldn't possibly get worse only to be proven as otherwise.
I was the one living with dying, but your life was stolen away by a heart attack.
That day our wall clock wasn't ticking the right way you know. It kept stopping from time to time till I had changed the battery to a new one. It was almost as if the universe was telling me something bad was goint to happen even before your office guard had rang me up to tell me how he had accidentally found you lying on the ground surrounded by files and papers scattered everywhere.
You weren't even that old, I'd argue knowing well enough that for some diseases, age, race, colour, wealth never mattered.
You who worked overtime to afford my medical bills were too busy to think about yourself for once. If you had listened to me and had taken things easy, would this have happened? I often ask myself desperately refusing to dwell on reality.
Was it me who got you killed?
Till last week our house had been full of sympathies and people who had come by to give me a hug as they reminisced their past with you, but now it was just me crying to sleep on our dining table, waiting for you to blow out the candles and carry me to bed after kissing my forehead, like it had been in the past.
My sister and her family stayed with me for the past few days, but I had shooed them away saying that I was fine now.
After all they wouldn't understand.
You couldn't come to me, if they were here.
An icy breeze gushed past me. The type that randomly blows by during an already freezing winter sending chills down your spine.
The candles were blown out.
I looked up at the clock with the aid of the iridescent moonlight creeping through the curtain cracks. It was exactly thirty minutes past twelve.
"You're late" I whispered softly.
However, it was always better late than never.