Emily avoided calls from Arun after that evening and wrought with guilt over what could have happened focussed her energy on trying to get in touch with Ethan. She was tired and hurt. She still loved him and needed to get back to him – away from temptation. Perhaps when they were together again, everything would fall back into place. Perhaps they would be able to start afresh.
She must have tried calling Ethan at least a hundred times over several days before, “Tell me, Emily…”
Her heart ached as she heard the familiar baritone on the phone. “E! Finally! You’ve been unreachable for so long now.”
“Hmm…I’ve been in the lab, Emily. You know I have limited reception there. Tell me. What’s up?” Ethan said, sounding preoccupied as always.
Emily angrily wanted to ask him if he had permanently shifted to his lab. But, she held her tongue. There were more urgent matters at hand. “I was thinking of coming home in a day or two?”
It appeared that she had caught his attention. “What? Why? You sound much better at home with your parents. The trip seems to be doing you good.”
Emily was upset that he still seemed cold and was also surprised that he wasn’t able to hear the stress in her voice, but, she knew she had to get back to him to set things right again, so she said, “Yes, it’s been a good change. Can’t stay at my parents’ place forever though, can I? I think that maybe we should be together again now. What good could possibly come from spending so much time apart? Also…” she had reached the part of the conversation she was most worried about broaching.
“Also, what?” Ethan asked impatiently.
The words fell out of her mouth before she could phrase them properly. “If you are willing, we could even start trying again. I know I lost Grace, so I’ll be extra careful this time. I promise…”
“A baby? Really? Emily, what are you saying?”
She could picture his exasperated expression but bravely pressed on. “I’m saying that we…look…we need to move on from where we are right now. I really think the way forward is if we start trying again.”
“Do you not remember the last few years? They were the most stressful time of my life. It took us years to conceive a child and then, she didn’t survive. I haven’t got years to spend on making a baby right now. I really don’t have the time to look after a pregnant woman and I most certainly don’t have time to care for a child. In fact, right now, I’m so close to a breakthrough, I’m not even sure I have time for…”
“Time for what Ethan? Time for us? Time for me?”
“No, that’s not what I…look, Em…”
But Emily had heard enough. She said goodbye, disconnected the call and broke down.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Startled, Emily half thought it was Ethan at the door, defying the laws of time and physics to reach her. Hastily, she wiped the tears from her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair. She took a quick glimpse in the mirror and thought she looked presentable.
It was Arun.
“You.” she said, unable to hide the disappointment in her voice.
The smile left Arun’s face for a moment before he quickly wore it again and said, “Hey you….I’m sorry about the other day. I’ve brought pizza as a peace-offering?”
Emily tried to smile and waved off his apology. “Come in…” she said.
“Where are Aunty and Uncle?” Arun asked.
“They had to attend a baptism. Am not up to attending those yet…” she said flatly, looking at her feet, not wanting to make eye contact.
“I understand.” Arun looked at Emily who was more distracted than usual. “Are you alright?”
Emily started to tell Arun she was perfectly fine but didn’t get very far. Instead, tears and details of the argument came pouring out as if suddenly free from a dam. Arun held her in his arms until she stopped crying. As she began to break away from his embrace, her cheek brushed against his. She froze. She could feel his warm breath on her face. They were inches apart. She looked into his eyes. He held her gaze for a long moment and then…then he kissed her.
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UBC: Post 26