By Tandrima Bhattarcharjee
The morning on that day was not unlike others. It began, as always, with a cup of coffee on her balcony as the radio droned on in the background. As she sipped the coffee, Emma looked through her calendar. There was nothing new there either, a regular workday from 9 am to 5 pm, until she scrolled down to 7 pm. Written in pink, perhaps with hope or expectation, were the words “Blind Date”.
She felt a tiny flutter in her stomach, which quickly disappeared. It was extremely unlikely that the evening would lead to something. Blind dates rarely did, for her at least. But the thought lingered at the back of her mind as she went about her day. She took a little more time to get dressed, the heel on the shoe she picked was an extra inch higher, and her hair curler lay in her bag, just in case.
The rest of the day went on as it always did. Team meeting at 9:30 am, lunch at 1 pm and tea at 4 pm. So, by the time 5 pm drew close, Emma was ready to find out if love was in store for her that evening. As she shut down her laptop and wrapped up the charger, a voice rang out behind her, “Are you leaving already?” She recognised both the voice and the intent behind the question and cursed under her breath.
“Hey, George. Yes, I have somewhere to be. I was hoping I could…”
“Somewhere? A hot date? Is it?” the chuckle that followed contained hints of mockery and malice.
Unwilling to give anything away, Emma let out a dry chuckle as well.
“Well, can’t have you leaving yet. The client has some requirements he would like to discuss. The rest of the team slipped away, guess you’re it today.” He said with a hearty laugh. “It won’t take more than an hour; you can spare an hour for work, can’t you?” He added, noticing the look of rebellion on her face.
Emma resigned, knowing that an argument would be pointless, “Sure, I’ll take the call.” She said, glancing at her watch, which read 5:02 pm. She turned her laptop back on and sent a silent prayer to the heavens, Dear Lord, I hope I don’t get late.
When Emma got out of the cab outside the pub they were meant to meet, she was officially 10 minutes late and 15 bucks poorer than planned. She hurried to cross the road and was almost across when a taxi hurtled towards her. She caught herself right on time, and the taxi missed her narrowly. Breathing a sigh of relief, she made her way to the other side of the road.
She scurried into the pub and looked around anxiously. There were no tables with a solitary person. Thinking that he might be waiting at the bar, she made her way there. It seemed that he wasn’t there either. She wondered if he was running late as well. But 20 minutes and half a glass of Bordeaux later, her phone buzzed in her bag. He was apologetic, but something had come up, and he would not be able to make it to the date. Emma was being stood up.
An unusual combination of anger, embarrassment and despair overcame her as she gulped the other half of her glass of wine and got up to leave with a certain degree of aggression. In that, she walked straight into a waiter, sending his tray of food and drinks flying across his body and painting the white shirt of a man standing close to him. But it wasn’t until she heard the man’s sharp yelp and the waiter’s horror-ridden gasp that she was brought back to her surroundings.
“Oh, My God! I am so sorry!” Emma lamented, aghast. She looked around at both the men helplessly. “Oh, God! Oh God!” she continued whispering under her breath as she tried to pick up the broken dishes off the ground.
“Ma’am, it’s okay. I’ve got it.” The waiter spoke from behind her, his voice kind but stern. She turned around; her apology plastered across her face. The waiter smiled kindly, “It’s alright, ma’am.” He said as a colleague handed him the cleaning equipment.
She turned around, slowly, with a grimace, to face the other man, expecting him to be livid with anger. Instead, the man looked amused, his arms limp by his sides, spread out slightly as he said, “I guess the shirt was too boring, better now?” his eyebrows rose in question as the moment stood silent. In the next moment, the man broke out in laughter while Emma joined in. The both of them stood clutching their stomach and laughing for quite some time. When they finally paused for breath, the man spoke first, “You seemed to be in quite a bit of a hurry. Where’s the fire?” His grey eyes twinkled with mischief.
“Fire? Oh no, there isn’t one. It was just…nothing really. I was just looking to leave.” She said as shame returned to stain her cheeks. “I’m so sorry about the mess. I really am.” She repeated her apology.
“Oh! Don’t worry about it.” With a wave of his hand, the man said, “I have a change of clothes in my car”. “Why don’t I buy you a drink and get changed quickly, and then you can tell me all about why you were so eager to leave? Sounds good?” He asked.
“I feel like I should be the one buying you a drink, considering…” She trailed off, signalling towards his shirt.
“Well, that works for me,” The man said with a smile. “Could you get the drinks? I’ll be back in a bit.”
She nodded and asked, “What will it be for you?”
“Oh! I’ll have whatever you’re having.” He said as he walked away from her and towards the door.
She sat at the bar for a few minutes and waited for the man and their drinks. Both arrived at the very same time. “Ah! Perfect timing, eh?” The man exclaimed, throwing his hands up gleefully.
“Indeed, that was perfectly timed.” Emma beamed at the man who now wore a casual-looking blue shirt. He walked up and took up the seat next to her at the bar. His eyes bore into hers as they started talking. And they sat there, at the bar, sipping on sweet wine and talking for hours about everything.
After what seemed forever, Emma told him that it was getting late and that she had to wake up early for work. This seemed to highly amuse the man. He laughed and said, “Yes, yes. It is late, indeed. Let me walk you out.”
Emma smiled and followed him to the door. The man pulled the door open with a smile and said, “Ladies first.” Emma acknowledged his gesture with a nod and a smile and took a step to cross the door. But much to her surprise, she wasn’t able to get through. She looked back at the man, her smile fading slightly, and tried again. There seemed to be a force that was keeping her from leaving. She was getting anxious. She looked at the man with worry and asked, “What is happening? Why can I not get through?”
“Oh! Well, it happens sometimes, no reason to worry, really.” He said with a nonchalance that surprised Emma.
“But…You left. I saw you leave. Why can’t I?” She said, panic thick in her voice.
“Yes. Well…Why don’t you wait right here, and I’ll pop out and see what’s up. Sounds good?” He said as he walked past her, not waiting for a reply.
“Wait!” Emma called out after him, to no avail. As she waited by the door, she kept trying to get through. It felt like an invisible wall was holding her in.
The man strolled in a few minutes later. With a relaxed expression, he looked to Emma and said, “I think we should head back to the bar, really.”
“What?! Why?” Emma demanded, “What is going on? Why am I not able to leave?”
“Well, Emma, they haven’t cleared your body yet.” The man said sheepishly “The police are getting really sloppy these days. Carrying the investigation out with the body lying around.” The man ranted while Emma tried to comprehend what he said.
Body? My Body? Is that supposed to mean I’m…No!
“Wait!” Emma yelled. “Are you trying to tell me that I am dead?!” Her voice ringing out.
“Well, what else do you think is going on out there?” The man said matter-of-factly.
Realisation settled into Emma as she slid down against the wall. Slumped at the corner, Emma recalled the taxi hurtle down the street run her over. She realised that she had indeed died on the road outside. That her life was no more.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Hi! I’m Tandrima (you can call me Tan :P), a MA Storytelling student. I’m a fiction and life-story writer with a particular interest in writing thrillers and crime stories. I enjoy telling stories from the perspective of inanimate objects and like to surprise the reader. My hometown is Kolkata, the cultural capital of India. As such, I love listening to people’s stories and exploring their cultures through those stories.
The Limit showcases the creativity that exists within the student population, creating a sense of community.