Tallying the time

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten days.... view prompt


Drama Romance Christmas

I still remember the day I had received his letter. I had been getting ready to leave for work when the door bell had rung. The mail man had smiled as he had handed me the letter. "Have a nice day ma'am," he had wished, tipping his cap, before he rode off on his bike.

I stared at the letter, turning it around, but there was no name or address indicating who the sender could be. I sat down and opened the letter.

15th December 2019

Dear Daisy

How have you been? I know it's a little late it's very late, however, I had to let you know. Had to tell you the I like you I love you, but didn't have the guts to come up to you and say it. But now knowing that you are marrying someone else, that now you would belong to someone else, I have to let you know, that i was a coward. I knew how you felt about me but i did not acknowledge it.

I know you are going to be very angry and probably hate me forever, but trust me its for the best. But before I let you go, there is something I need to give you. Will you please meet me at my old house in Goa after ten days. It will be christmas eve and a decent perfect way to say good bye to whatever feelings that you have for me.

A fresh beginning to your new life with no bygones, my final gift to you.

Yours always,


The letter fell from my hand and a traitorous tear rolled down my cheek. This wasn't happening! I was getting married on christmas! Seething with anger, I picked the letter and crumpled it, and walked with determination to the bin. As I raised my hand to throw the paper in the trash, my hand paused and then, what began, was a war of wills between my brain and my stupid stupid heart.

The next thing I knew I was on a flight to Goa. I didnt have the patience to wait for ten days and I needed to sort this as soon as possible. After ignoring me for a millennia, Allan couldn't just waltz into my life and throw his feelings in my face. Angry? Oh he didn't have the first clue to how angry I was. If I had met him right now I would have probably strangled him to death!

From the Goa airport I hired a cab straight to Allan's house. The journey was an hour and a half and that gave me some time to pipe down the fury I felt. The scenic route distracted me and lulled me into old memories. Agonda had been our home and I and Allan lived in the same lane, which wound into twists and turns before it hit the beach. The street was line by small villas and a small market just before the beach. A tranquil, peace loving neighbourhood, till christmas and new year hit. After that there was crazy hustle bustle for a month before a lull again.

In the whole scheme of things I and Allan were given the duty of luring guests from the market to a shack our parents jointly owned for a hearty meal cooked lovingly by my mom and served by his Mom. In the midst of the chores and school, I and Allan shared a wonderful friendship. I never really realised when it became more for me, till he started blatantly ignoring me and flirting with every girl in town. It hurt and I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I escaped- to college in Mumbai. I rarely visited home in those four years and met Allan even less. Our parents were confused on what went wrong, especially because our camaraderie had mislead them to believe that we might just end up married.

As the cab halted at my destination, I was tugged to the present. Having paid the cabbie, I trudged down the cobbled path, dragging my wheelie bag towards Allan’s house. So when I found the door locked, I wasn’t sure if I had made a wise decision of flying down here, without checking with Allan, as he did mention meeting me on the 25th. But somewhere, in a small corner of my heart, I had hoped he would be here to receive me, that he of all the people would know how impatient I was. But to my disappointment, he probably had been more practical than me.

I walked to my house and knocked on the door. My mom was surprised yet happy to see me, she was glad that I had decided to spend time with my family before the wedding. I was amazed at how forgiving my mom was despite my obvious rebellion against all that she stood for, including my wedding. “Oh sweety! You could help us prepare for the season and I know Martha would love to stitch your wedding gown, she did mine too you know!”

By now I had tuned out of the conversation and focussed on the constant drone of the ceiling fan. So when my mom asked me about Allan, I faltered, “What?”

“Sweetie, now I know you and Allan have been enstranged for a while, but he was such a good friend to you, have you considered inviting him to your wedding?” she whispered as she fretted over the throw pillows adorning the sofa set in our living room.

My world tilted on its axis and I stormed out of my house straight to Allan’s house. May be he was hiding in there and had locked the door to trick her. I stuck my nose to the window pane and peered into the house, but to no avail. The house was as gloomy and dusty as our friendship over the years, covered in cobwebs of our doubts, hiding our true feelings. I sighed as I turned to leave and then a thought struck me. I walked to the main road, where Christopher sold coals for barbeques. I picked a piece from the pile and walked back to Allan’s house. Putting all my strength to it, I scribbled a long line down the white wall of his house. Disfiguring it with that black coal gave me a childish pleasure. As if I was branding him for letting me suffer alone. As I walked back home with a satisfied smile, a plan had formed in my mind, a plan for revenge, a plan to blemish what he loved the most, his house.

Next day too I walked to the house, peered in through the windows. Allan wasn’t there. As I circled his house, I saw the swing on the Banyan tree in his backyard. He had tied it there for me. We would spend hours playing on it, him pushing me up in the air and me screaming ‘higher- higher’. The sound of my voice reverberated through the backyard as I touched the rope of the swing. Right now it sat there, all alone, disowned, just like me, abandoned by the very person who once loved us both, or atleast claimed that he loved. As hot tears stained my cheek, I pulled out the piece of charcoal from my pocket and scribbled another vertical line and stormed back to my house.

Day three Allan was still a no show. That day I sat on his porch and looked at the people moving up and down the street. I and Allan would often do that, sipping on lemonade and ginger cookies courtesy his mom. He loved to observe people and guess what was on their minds. It was surprising how often he was right. I wondered now as to when he would have read me and known my feelings for him. But with Allan, it was tough to tell, he was very well guarded with his feelings. I jumped to my feet, and dusting my bottoms, walked to the wall and scribbled another line, more darker than the rest. That day there were no tears just a sense of sadistic pleasure at ruining the pretty white wall of his beloved home.

On the fourth day, as I was leaving on my routine visit to Allan’s house, my mom stopped me, “Daisy! Where are you off to. Remember I asked Martha to come for measurements? She will be here in an hour!”

I had completely forgotten and escaped from there with a, “I won’t be long Ma!!” rolling off my tongue knowing very well that I had purchased my gown well before arriving home and that I was putting up with Martha only to appease mom. So that day I hid at Allan’s house, like how I would often do whenever Mom would be angry with me. As I sat at Allan’s porch, I looked at the vehicles passing, hoping that one of them would stop and Allan would step out of it. But then it was just wishful thinking and with passing days my hope to see Allan dwindled. So I stood up and walked to the white wall and drew a thin black line beside the other three. As I stood there and looked at my handiwork I realised that my angry scribbles looked like tally marks, the ones that Mr. D’Souza would teach us in twelfth grade statistics. I smiled at the coincidence and how I was marking memories onto Allan’s house, waiting for him to show up.

Day five, my mother had dragged me to the market to buy me some stuff before the wedding. By afternoon, both of us returned home exhausted from more arguing than shopping. Mom wasn’t at all flattered by my monosyllabic answers to her shopping suggestions. She badgered me with questions about whether I was happy with the match and that I wasn’t doing it on some impulse. I had finally ticked her off by saying ‘mind your own business’ in a more polite manner.

After lunch, mom walked into my room with a small packet. She unwrapped the old looking cloth to reveal a beautiful hair pin. She sniffled as she said, “Daisy this belonged to your Gran, I am sure she would have been very happy if you used it as your something borrowed for the wedding.”

I took the pin in my hand and very lightly moved my fingers over it. I had been close to Gran and losing her had been tough on me. My mom mentioning her and the wedding in the same sentence, opened a floodgate of pain I had shut tight over so many years. I placed the pin on the table and ran back to Allan’s house.

It was still locked and the lock mocked my pride, as I kept coming back to it, hoping to find Allan here. I still remembered how he had held my hand in Gran’s funeral and had not left my side for a month, till I finally had learnt to control my tears. That’s when I had developed feelings for him. That’s also when he moved away from me and hooked up with Felicia, the village slut. I took out the piece of charcoal and scratched a fifth line, diagonal to the rest, drawing over and over, as if trying to scratch off the unease that the memory left.

Day six and seven were the same. Me arguing with mom, going to Allan’s house and scratching his wall to register my objection to everything that had toppled over thanks to his admission about being in love with me. Day eight, however, wasn’t what I expected. A knock on the door early in the morning had woken me from my slumber, to find Jace there, smiling brightly. I on the other hand had frowned while he made himself at home. Did I mention that Jace was my fiancé, well then let me mention it now.

After lunch as I started from home, to my regular visit to Allan’s, Jace caught up with me. “Dais, where are you off too. You mind some company?”

I stared at him with a furrowed brow and nodded as I could see the doubt in his eyes. We walked quietly till the house. He stood by the gate and observed me peer through the window, then he followed me to the wall and saw me drag a line on it. When I turned he raised an eyebrow whilst indicating my ‘artwork’ and I shrugged. I knew he expected an answer, wanted to know what was going on, as I had bailed on our dinner and flown to Goa without as much as a word.

As we sat on Allan’s porch, Jace finally broached the subject. “Dais, are you alright? You know taking off on an impulse to Goa, no message , no call, this is very unlike you.”

As he waited for my answer, I was not sure what I was supposed to tell him. He didn’t know about Allan, and me coming here on the basis of just a letter wasn’t giving good vibes. But hey we were to be married soon and I concluded that honesty was something he deserved. So I took a deep breath and told him everything from meeting Allan to the letter that I received a week ago.

Jace was quiet for a very long time after that and it filled me with guilt to have landed this on him a few days before our wedding. He sighed as he looked at me with a sad smile and asked, “Do you still love him?”

The question rand like a thousand bells in my head, did I love him? I had never really thought about it. I had just come here not knowing the purpose of this journey. I looked at Jace and finally things fell in place, I knew why I had come here. I took his hand and tugged him to walk with me, and he like the gem of a guy he was, followed my lead.

Day nine we helped mom set up the gifts under the Christmas tree and I took Jace around Goa and we had a lot of fun. On our way back we had stopped over at Allan’s house and completed my ritual, before we headed home for dinner. That night we had lied on the roof in each other’s arms and stared at the night sky, filled with stars gazing down upon us. I had slept peacefully that night after so many days.

Tenth day, 25th of December, I and Jace packed our bags. We were to wed that evening in Mumbai, in the presence of family and friends. Mom had flown to the venue already with my friend Tina. I took his hand as we walked to Allan’s for the last time. I carried a can of paint and two brushes with me. As I walked through his gate, for the first time I was feeling at peace. Whatever pent up anger was there had spilled out. I pulled out the charcoal piece in my pocket. It had shrunk in size, just like my obsession with Allan. I smiled at Jace as I drew the final stroke and completed my tally.

For every memory that I had of Allan, I had a dark ugly mark on his wall. Jace picked up the brush and nodded to me, as we both painted the wall white, back to its beautiful glory. It was like cleaning the slate for me. I looked at Jace and felt immense love and respect for this man, who had stood with me in my craziness, no questions asked. He had trusted me with the decision of whether we would be tied for life or would part our ways, when he had asked me about my feelings for Allan.

As I sat on the flight back to Mumbai, Jace had nodded off to sleep. I looked out onto the disappearing airstrip as our flight took off and I looked forward to the wedding tonight. Whether Allan came to Agonda that day, I do not know. But he had given me the perfect gift, a purging to all my held up feelings and a chance to move on to a new life with Jace, and for that I was thankful to him.

December 30, 2020 08:50

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Kevin Schenk
16:37 Jan 08, 2021

A nice story of closure! Glad that Daisy found someone who loves her and cherishes her, Jace :)


Poonam Desai
09:28 Jan 18, 2021

thankyou for the comment. I am glad you like it


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