“This is wrong, all of this”, a voice inside me kept harping. I wanted to brush that voice off, ignore it, cast it aside.
I wanted to say to myself, “This is it, man. You have things in your control. There is no need for a do-over. There is no need for another chance. You have all that chances you wanted, needed.”
I was thinking to myself, or more appropriately, deciding that this is not happening. “This can’t be it”, I heard myself saying. I knew that there was more to this; there had to be more than just this. This can’t end here, they can’t end this way. I needed a do-over; I needed another chance; I deserved another chance.
The train started to slow down. As it did, something inside me told me that I wasn’t alone. That was when, in the slowing train, I saw a silhouette of someone standing right next to me. This meant that she, it was a woman, was there all along.
I wasn’t sure what ascertained it, but I became aware that she was someone I knew for, perhaps, my entire life. Although, for the life of me, cannot remember exactly who she was. I just couldn’t place her, not with part of my mind still distracted trying to adjust to my current circumstances. Was she my wife? Or, was she my cousin? Or, was she my first love? I just didn’t know.
When it started, or at least the beginning that I remember, I was standing on a railway platform, which was deserted except for four men.
The first of the four was, of course, me. A few yards in front of me stood another, the Second. He stood there with his back to me, his head was turned a little towards his right. I knew that this man was waiting for something but wasn’t sure what it was. I didn’t even know whether he was waiting for me. He just stood there, for a cue, which I didn’t know from where it will come.
Bittersweet, perhaps. Or even, more of a let-down than up-lifting. That’s how Ace felt when he walked, if the term walked is applicable any longer, into his own home.
Her eyes stared back at her own self, critical but not quite self-loathing, yet. The dark brown eyes laced with the barely discernible concentric circles, stared at her own face, judging, evaluating, assessing every inch of her own face.
Everyone around her have been saying it to her, more often than she would have liked it. There was truth in it; she admitted it over the years but never warmed to the idea.
“There is a twinkle in your eyes”, they used to say. “It’s as if your eyes are expressing what's in your heart in a way that words can never express”.
He checked it for the nth time in the past two months, knowing fully well what the result would be. Still, he did it anyway and the outcome didn’t surprise him. What he saw was what he had seen all the previous times he performed the exercise.
I splashed it against my face: once, twice, thrice, till I could no longer feel any sense of nausea. It has become my routine ever since O’Maley first suggested that it might help. In a way, I guess, it did. The others, especially Williamson, thought I was a wimp, that I didn’t have it in me to take it like a man. But, I didn’t care. We all do what we can to make it easier. And this is what I do.