"Mom, I want a unicorn!", said an innocent voice in the back of her head. "Excuse me miss, can you please move over? I need to pick those books up", said a polite voice, pointing towards the racks placed right beside the soft toy rack. Anna got pulled into the reality of her life. She was trying to forget all that happened between her boyfriend and her, when her eyes were caught by the unicorn toy that reminded her of her childhood. Even though her eyes filled up, there was a slight smile on her lips. She remembered how she used to endlessly ask her mother at least a million questions per day, as her mother patiently and lovingly answered each of them. Her mother loved her very much. The unicorn reminded her of the magic, the fantasy, the surprises and the beauty of the little world that her unicorn took her into. More than anything, the unicorn reminded her of her mother's love and the values her mother had brought her up with. This unicorn was symbolic of the love, respect and kindness she had to now focus back into herself. But, was it lost? She wondered.
She frequented this store more often than others because of the availability of her favorite food, soft toys and books, all under the same roof. This place seemed very ideal for her to get over her past, or so she believed. She spent hardly any time, at home. After work she rushed to this place, as if this was her home. There was something magical in her mind, a kind of postivity that made her feel that she would never want to be bogged down by the sadness of her past. But she also felt that she was waiting for the unicorn to come rescue her from the feelings of loneliness.
A few days of this routine and her mind started to divert. The feelings did come back intermittently, but she knew that she always deserved the best. She signed up for swimming once a week at a nearby club. She knew that exercise could do what many other things couldn't. After work the next day, she drove to the club just remembering that she had forgotten her swimming bag at work. She had to drive back all the way and get it. "Why did this have to happen!, I hope I don't get late...I think I can manage by swimming half a kilometre instead of one today....." She was lost in the thought of saving time, as she walked towards the entrance with her bag in one hand and phone in the other. Just then her phone rang. Unknown number. "Hey, look behind", said the caller. What kind of surprise was this? Her heartbeat increased slightly. She never noticed, she was literally a centimeter away from a huge gush of water coming towards her. Some one across the reception yelled "Move away from therrrrreeeee!" As her ears heard something, her eyes saw something else. She wasn't able to decide what she could do...She took a step towards the receptionist's counter and bam. Her feet slipped and she fell almost a few meters ahead. Her body although thin, had strong bones and the thud of her fall was well heard all over the floor. Her phone flew to the other side of the reception, while her bag remained with her. Everyone on the ground floor rushed to help her. Thankfully, her head was saved while all her body weight was concentrated on her bums and twisted leg.
A man came running towards her, as if he had taken accountability for what had happened. " Oh God!! Open your eyes, are you fine?" She felt a little dizzy and she saw herself in his arms. Her eyes slowly showing a kind of non responsive look. She shut her eyes as the man shouted for her to respond in some way or the other.
"Mom, can you keep me on the Unicorn's back? So mom, what colour can I paint the Unicorn's nose? Mom is it okay for me to put a star on the unicorn's forehead?And is it also okay for me to write Anna on the star? ......"
She heard someone drop something down on the floor. The sudden noise woke her up from her minimally conscious state. She looked around on both sides, she was lying on a hospital bed, dressed in a light yellow gown with a few wires around her and an i.v. pierced into her wrist. She woke up with a slight hungover feeling. "Hey sleepy head! How are you? Are you better now?", said this handsome figure walking towards her. Her eyes recognized him within a split second while her brain held her heart back from reacting in the same excited, loving and caring manner that she used to speak to him almost everyday with. Her mind immediately took her back to her past, where she felt she was taken for granted, where she wasn't loved, where she felt lonely and where she had withdrawn in to her own cocoon. It felt extremely awkward to be sitting injured in front of the man who had distanced himself from her and was now standing right in front of her, talking to her. She didn't know how she would react. She moved her leg slightly to her left and literally groaned in pain. The man noticed this. "Wait, I'll help!" He slowly held the knee of that leg and assisted her in moving it towards the end of the bed. It felt odd. She felt better, but she didn't know what was happening. "Why are you here? What happened? I need to see the doctor.....
"Anna", he said in tone she had longed to hear her name in since so many days now, " You fell at the club entrance, by the reception...I came running towards you and tried to awaken you, I didn't know... you seemed to be answering some call that confused you into such a mess....I'm sorry....no one expected the water from the pipe to come gushing towards you like this and then............."
"I never wanted to be a cause of trouble for you! I'm sorry you had to get me here and take care of me!", she interrupted, "You can leave whenever you want to and I am very thankful to you, if you wanted you could have just called 911 and left. You didn't. But now you can."
Her words opened the door to the void in his heart that had been created in the past few weeks. Her voice immediately took him back to the days, when he used to call her for stupid reasons only to hear her voice and make her feel nice. They used to talk for many hours at a stretch enjoying each other's experiences and stories and dreams. His mind put him in the flashback mode.
Her words cut like a dagger into his heart. Does she really want me to leave? Is she trying to move away from me? he reflected, while she chatted with the doctor who filled her up on everything that had happened.
"Jake, I am very grateful for the fact that you came and helped me."
Her voice didn't have even a hint of sadness or discouragement, he wondered. Was he doing her a favour, by caring for her?
"Jake, I wanted to know what you were doing there at the same time I was present at the club?", her question rekindled the flame in his heart for her.
"I uhhhhh...I had cancelled a meeting an hour earlier at the club and wanted to go out for a swim,so uhhhhh"
"Anna, can I talk to you about something important. It'll just take a few minutes...."
"Yeah..." Anna's mind shot alert signals to her head.
"Anna, when I saw you fall that day and pass out, I felt like my heart fell out of the mouth! I was very scared and I began sweating...I have never felt this way about anyone before. My mind has never cared about anyone the way it did for you...." Anna's heart rate increased. She turned to his face and looking at him intently. This time, the past did not make its appearance at all. She could actually look beyond that wall that her mind had created in guarding her heart.
"I've been here ever since you passed out and I have been waiting for you to return back to consciousness, ever since. Anna, I'm sorry for whatever happened in the past. I am sorry for ignoring you, acting insensitive and stopped you from helping me. When you got injured two days back, I felt like a part of me was injured too. From that second on, I wondered whether I would ever be able to stay away from you. Anna, you have been on my mind more than I can ever think."
She sensed a sincerity in his apology and genuine feelings of love and affection. Indeed, he had never been so honest before. The storm had subsided between them. But, was she open to the idea of returning to her life with him?
"I am deeply in love with you and the separation just helped me realize it. Your accident, made things all the more clear. Is it possible....."
"Jake, I uhhh, I need sometime out please....I don't think I can talk much beyond this. I think my physical injury is what is on my mind right now and I need to focus on recovery and......"
Jake looked down. He sighed. At least, I could say it to her. She needs time, he wondered. "Sure, take care of yourself and I hope you get up and running soon."
As he left, she teared up again. Her mind took her back to the days she was hurt. But, she felt relieved for some reason now. As if the child in her had stopped crying. And was now, very eager to see what comes next.
"It's a shame the man went! Are you sure you will be able to reach home all by yourself, with this muscle tear? You've been advised to have a good bed rest for the entire next week, woman!" said this nurse who came to help her out with the sponge bath. "You are a hell of a lucky girl, that man did not move an inch ever since he got you in, I hope you know that....." her typical accent and informal attitude with Anna showed up in pieces. Anna felt at ease with her to some extent. She smiled, hearing the nurse's words as she chose not to react further.
She munched on her meals as she went through her phone intently checking who had called her just before she fell. When she called back on that number, a man picked up saying that he might have called her by mistake. Was this really meant to happen? Was it a co-incidence that an unknown number called her at such an exacting time that she saw a pipe burst and water gush out at her and out of nowhere she had her boyfriend running towards her trying to save her? This was weird. Or was it a really excellent co-incidence? But leave all of that..... Do people come back? Won't they be the same even if they return? But was he the same?
Over the next few days, she pondered about his actions. The next day he called to check in on her. He really was making effort to make his way back. Or was he just.....?
Her eyes saw the unicorn again, this time. It brought to her memory those distinct words that her mom had once said, " Honey, only the ones who love you always remain by your side, even if you can't see them always. Know that, they will always hold your hand."
Had the unicorn shown her some way? Or perhaps taken her somewhere mysteriously? She slept in on this thought as she prepared herself for the next day's schedule. She asked the unicorn for some signal to follow her heart this time.
The next morning Jake called her asking if she would like to meet somewhere. She didn't want to avoid this meeting, even if she tried to delay it. They decided to meet for coffee at a cafe near her apartment. He came in with a tiny gift for her. The label on the bag read "Get Well Soon", as he urged her to open the gift. She smiled and opened it only to see a very beautiful Unicorn inside with a star on its head that read "Anna". She felt refreshed and knew what she had to do next.