A/N: Hello! This is an ArHi FF I’ve been working on. I’m just posting a prologue to see the feedback! 🙂 I will be posting the story when I’m done writing it because I don’t have time for regular updates at the moment LOL. I hope you guys like it ❤ I haven’t added this in the index yet because this will probably undergo a lot of changes/editing once I finish the entire story! x
Prologue: Two Solitudes
She hears the familiar crunch of gravel and the soft footsteps that have become a part of her routine now. 7 breaths and 5 footsteps later she finds him sitting there, the distance between them big enough to make them strangers but small enough to reach out, if they felt like. She turns her head infinitesimally and watches him look into the distance, wondering what he saw there that made it worthwhile.
After 2 years of this she has come to a conclusion. Patient number 70 was interesting. Sometimes she watches him well into the night, never saying anything. He never looks back, his eyes are glassy, unfocused, as if he’s looking but he’s not really there. She watches him to forget her own reasons of coming out here. She watches him because she is jealous. Because in the hours he watches the horizon, he is at peace. So much so, that she wishes she could muster the strength and cross the chasm between them and maybe watch what he watches. And then maybe she will be at peace too. But then again, peace has eluded her for 5 years; this one shouldn’t be any different.
She fingers the worn out bracelet on her hand. She knows what it says, she has been trying to convince herself of it since the time she has been here. Patient number 17. Manic depressive.
She huffs derisively. It started with depressive and somewhere along 5 years it turned into her being bipolar. As if she didn’t have enough shit in her life to begin with. Pinching the bridge of her nose she breathes in and out, almost hearing the voice of her counselor, telling her to inhale and exhale to reign in her emotions. Fucking bitch.
Still, she continues breathing deeply. Bitch she may be, but she knows her job, she concedes. She rests her chin on her knees and closes her eyes.
“When are you coming home?”
“3 days more, baby!”
“I miss you. And Aryan too. Is he okay? You didn’t let him overeat at the wedding, did you?”
“we miss you too. Er he might have eaten a little over his usual intake…”
“Jay Malhotra. What did I tell you about watching what Aryan eats?” her voice hardens dangerously, although there is an undercurrent of playfulness that only her husband of 7 years can detect.
“Aryan is going to be fine, you worry too much, jaan.”
“I have to…look what happens when I leave the worrying to you!”
“Shut up!” he manages to sound petulant over the phone and Khushi laughs, a ringing, boisterous laugh. She can’t wait for her family to come home; it’s been a lonely week.
“I love you. Come home soon, okay?”
“I love you too. We should be there soon, the train’s stopped for a bit.”
“Okay, then. Take care, hmm?”
Four words stand out in the morning paper, the next day. Train. Crash. No survivors. She doesn’t remember the spilt coffee on the carpet. She doesn’t hear the phone ringing. All she thinks of, is Jay. Aryan. Dead. And then it hits her and she cries. She cries and she never stops.
Her eyes fly open and she feels quiet tears running down her cheek. It is a different memory each day. They dance in front of her eyes, always there, and always out of reach, mocking her, taunting her, reminding her that she is alone and nothing can change that. She doesn’t bother wiping her tears, it doesn’t matter anyway. The only person who has seen them has never spoken to her. She gets up, wipes her sweaty palms on her faded kurta and walks a slow pace back to her room. She pauses for a bit when the brightly lit board catches her eye. Maharani Shanti Devi Psychiatric Hospital. She lets herself have a moment of self-pity. She is young, alone and mentally ill. Pathetic, really.
Her eyes flit back to the man still sitting at the pier. He is still looking ahead. She turns around and walks back to her room. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind she thinks that knowing Patient number 70’s name would be nice.