The loud noise and indecipherable chatter on the street dissipated when a considerate woman closed the door behind her as she exited the Café. Jeremy was glad that she did not leave the door ajar, like the thoughtless patron before her had. Jeremy pulled his gaze away from the door and back to the screen of his phone and continued swiping through an endless chain of memes. Occasionally, a few of them caught his attention but none, over the past twenty minutes, was able to elicit a smile let alone a giggle. The coffee he had ordered sat untouched on the table. A perfect waste of $ 20! Although it would have had been a waste even if he had consumed it.
“What are you looking at?” Remy asked trying to veil her annoyance.
“Nothing”, said Jeremy. His eyes still fixed on the screen of his device and his thumb constantly moving like a flipper in a pinball machine.
The thumb now moved even faster, desperately searching for something funny or amusing enough so that it would justify the silence for the past twenty minutes or so.
“You haven’t even touched your coffee”, Remy reminded Jeremy.
After one final swipe, Jeremy locked his phone, put it back into his pocket and began drinking his, now-cold, coffee. He finished his coffee in two short swigs.
“Let’s go”, stipulated Jeremy, showing Remy the now-emptied coffee cup.
“You done?”, Remy exclaimed, surprised that the large cup of coffee was gone while she only had a chance to read and reply to one comment on her thriving social media page.
Remy was somewhat of a celebrity in Instagram, with over a million followers. She enjoyed making little make-up tutorials for her fans who always cheered her up with endless number of phrases praising her beauty and generosity. “I don’t need friends”, she once told herself on a very tough night. She enjoyed living on her own in her new apartment. Occasionally she had guests over but it seemed to her that everyone now was busy doing their own damn thing, she might as well focus on hers. Thank God! Her roommate had a stable job. A regular nine to five. She had promised to bring home wine and celebrate Remy’s birthday. Remy was looking forward to it. Although she would cancel in a heartbeat if something else came along.
Jeremy, although appreciated his friends for having a huge following in social media platforms, he wasn’t half as impressed by his own sister who had four times more followers than his most popular friends had.
Remy waited for Jeremy to lead the way and followed him out into the street. The noise and heat, which the quaint little café had protected them from, began to bother Jeremy again.
“It’s okay, I can walk from here on”, said Remy looking at her brother’s soft eyes.
“You sure”, asked Jeremy.
“Yup, I’m sure”, Remy assured her brother.
“Just make sure you call her and thank her for the gift”, Jeremy reminded his sister.
“It isn’t a gift. But, will do”, Remy mumbled rather brusquely.
Remy kissed her brother goodbye and strode across the street.
Jeremy watched his little sister walk away from him until he could no longer see her nonchalant figure any more.
Having completed the errand for his mother. He decided to go back home.
Jeremy walked for about fifteen minutes, along the same street he had walked a million times, passing a number of familiar faces and some unfamiliar ones. He raised his eyebrows every time he crossed paths with an acquaintance, as if a smile or hello was too precious to be disseminated this hot and busy morning. The raised eyebrows were a sign to let people know that Jeremy acknowledged their existence and they returned the favor in the same manner while some were bold enough to even throw in a smile.
“I want you to take this to your sister”, his mother had told Jeremy that morning. A perfect way to ruin the breakfast, Jeremy had thought. Jeremy hated doing tasks, especially tasks which did not directly benefit him.
“Why cant she just come here and take it?, said Jeremy deliberately showing his annoyance.
“It’s her birthday today. Did you call her?”, continued the mom, dismissing the childish mumble of her 36 year old son.
“All the more reason”, cried Jeremy
“Her friend is throwing her a party is what she told me. Unlike last year, she will not be joining us for dinner this time.”
“You could go to her apartment and stay for a night you know”.
“No” curtly replied the mother.
“And leave your father alone to burn the house down? No” she continued after a slight pause.
Jeremy knew better than to ask “Why not take father with you?”. Before the question could surface he swallowed it with a slice of excessively buttered toast.
“And what about Ravi?” he figured would have had been the question to follow his question. So he left it at that. He had had this conversation a lot of times.
A flash of Jolly came across his eyes as he unwittingly pictured his younger brother, Ravi in his head. Jolly loved Ravi. She had taken good care of Ravi. Ravi too seemed to enjoy Jolly’s company. Jeremy had been trying to get Jolly out of his mind and his life for the past 18 months and here she was again at his breakfast table.
He had hoped that Jolly would regret cheating on him. He had hoped that she would suffer and become miserable. He had hoped Jolly would call him and beg him to take her back. She didn’t. Not once in 18 months. Jeremy was devastated. He still is. He is a broken man staring at the pieces of his broken life, puzzled. “Where do I start?”, Jeremy constantly asks himself. Never in those exact words. Never, in fact, in words.
He would have taken her back. But she did not call him once.
Why didn’t she? Perhaps she was embarrassed. May be she thought he would not receive her call or may be worse, yell at her. Jeremy was suddenly hit with an urge to call her.
For eighteen months he had curbed his urge. It was easier now to imagine that she was suffering and living in pain, afraid to call him; then to call her and find out that she is in fact living a healthy and happy life with may be her husband and may be even a child. God!.
“Mom I want pancakes” cried Ravi entering the kitchen rubbing his eyes with one hand and pulling his belt-less trousers with another.
“Of course my sweetie”, dotingly replied the mother.
Jeremy looked at Ravi with pity. Jeremy always felt pity for Ravi.
Jeremy was deceived and cheated by his fiance of 12 years. He was now living with his parents unable and unwilling to move back into his apartment. He still believed his ex-fiance will one day return to him. And he pitied his 22 year old autistic brother who received unconditional love from his mother.
“What is this, anyway?” Jeremy inquired groping the brightly wrapped item on the kitchen table.
“It is her favorite sweater. She says it reminds her of home, of us”, said the mother.
“Why did you wrap it if she knows what it is?,”, quizzed Jeremy genuinely confused.
“It’s a gift”, the mother continued spinning the batter for her favorite son.
Jeremy was happy to meet his sister and wish her on her birthday. As he walked back, he took a turn and entered the alley behind his parents’ house to smoke. He enjoyed the cigarette to the last drag before flinging the bud away into the corner.
He was about to enter his parent’s house but decided not to. He would go back to the apartment and start erasing memories of Jolly for good. He had hoped when she returned, she would find everything the way it was so she felt at home. But Jeremy was now certain that it would not happen. He was finally ready to move on and move in back into his abandoned apartment.
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