Short Story: Reunion


I decided we’ll meet at the airport. I packed a pack of chips, a bottle of orange crush, some steamed rice, the Miss You greeting card carefully placed in a flowery envelope with nothing written over it, and drove to the airport.

We had promised we would never meet again. That was one day of perverse words, and tears that never fell. Our story wasn’t after all having the “and the frog turned into a prince, and they lived happily ever after” ending. I spent the next few years in fear. Fearing he would someday come in search of me. Or perhaps fearing he would never come looking for me. I didn’t love him anymore. But still thought I needed him. On some days, his images bridled my eyes and I drifted into the world I thought I would live in; into his world. So when I suddenly got that call from him, I acted shocked to hide the fact that I was actually shocked.

The flight was on time. Every head in the crowd seemed like him, as I had no idea how much he had changed over the years. He might have lost some hair, I suppose, and if he’d continued eating as much junk food, he would have gained some weight. He was not spectacled, but his job and reading habits could have earned him one. He wouldn’t have a moustache, he hated growing one. Probably still as brand loyal to Reebok; he never changed his favorite brands. I was sure he still used Close-Up and Gillete.

Between the stream of thoughts I saw a man in a light blue tee, blue jean, a backpack in his hand emerging from the crowd. I didn’t smile yet. From the distance it seemed he had lost some hair, put on some weight, and was spectacled. Soon his eyes fell on me and he started walking in my direction. I let out a thin smile as he approached a distance where we could hear each other.

“Hi”, he told smiling just as much, “you haven’t changed”. “Neither have you”, I lied. We took a place in one of the tables outside McDonalds and I gave him the greeting. He opened the envelope, unfolded the greeting and I repeated the lines he would be reading, within myself. “Me too”, he said smiling. But for some reason I thought he was crying, and quickly changed the topic opening the bowl of rice and chips, and placed the orange crush next to it. “Want some?”, I said pushing the bowl closer to him, “hope your tastes have not changed”. He ate one spoon and looked at me. “No. I’m going out for dinner tonight”, I replied.

So that’s how the next four hours would pass. Neither of us had the courage to ask about each other’s life, and what we were up to all these years that we were not in touch. I learnt he had changed two companies, commuted by car, and that his backpack was a birthday gift. He told me everything I cared less, while I sifted unfamiliar feelings returning to certain memories that interrupted me again and again from listening to him. I didn’t ask him if he still used Close-Up and Gillete, or if he still went to the same library. Between his words and my silence, it seemed I had grown up to be different during his absence. His sudden presence strangely alienated me from my feelings, like a trauma that ejects you out of your emotions. I felt numb. I felt – nothing.

The speaker called out security check for his return flight. “I got to leave”, he said. I started packing the boxes and leftovers. He was keeping the greeting carefully inside some book in his backpack, zipped it, and ran his fingers over the zipper. He hadn’t changed his habits.

He was about to leave and I was clueless what to talk. We were standing at the airport – that place of reunions and goodbyes – where there was always so much to talk in either case. And there I was staring blank into his face, perhaps confused if this was a reunion or a goodbye. “How’s your wife?”, I blurted. “Yeah”, he paused, “Good”. And he turned and walked away. As I watched him disappear into the crowd, my mobile beeped announcing a message. “Booked a table for us”, it said.


9 Responses to “Short Story: Reunion

  1. 1 Amrita

    K, this is really poignant – or will be once you’re done with it. I think that para up top where you show her (?, coz it becomes about three times more interesting if it’s a he :D) thoughts is where it flags a bit. if you could show rather than tell, say a small flashback? I love the dynamic between the two. its pretty good right now but flesh it out and you’ve got a winner!

  2. you’ve got such a knack for these short stories .. would be nice if we could see more, but then too much of a good thing and all that …

  3. A very nice read… very real!
    if it is meant to be – you both know it…
    if not – you just move on & go enjoy the dinner

  4. 4 Amrita

    Kish – you’ve been tagged! Indian writers/books you read/want to read.

  5. 5 Akhila

    Your short stories are simply amazingggg!!!
    But this one here could surely do with a sequel. :-)
    I am really curious to know abt the dinner….. and life ahead!!!

  6. 6 Emil

    Spoons are hard to eat. Spoonful would be a better choice.

    Paragraph “next four hours” third sentence contradicts second sentence. comma between “everything (,) I cared less.”
    Last para – “What to talk.” ?? What to say; How to end the visit.

    Question. If he was leaving, was your beeper late in sending the message? or was he typing it as he left?

    I like the unknown that the last sentence creates. Brings up many questions.

  7. 7 Kishore

    Thanks for the review. :) Will do the tag next.

    San, Srividya, Akhila,
    Thanks.. :D

    Thanks for the review. Noted the grammar parts. About the last sentence, the message is from the person with whom she was planning to go for dinner. Noticed her saying earlier “No. I’m going out for dinner tonight”?

  8. 8 Taks

    Nice one, mate. Liked all of it … but specially enjoyed the two points –
    1. when she brings the meal she made for him, keeping in mind his tastes & likes
    2. when she gets the message for the dinner that night. For me, the beeper message was a symbolic alarm, to tell her that wake up from the past & come back into the present :-)

  9. 9 Shanae

    I really, really, really like this story…I also liked Taks comment about the beeper being her wake-up call to the present. BEEPBEEP. :))

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