Prologue

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Him:

Quickening my pace to make up for lost time, I head towards my car. Within the short time I was in the hospital, the cars seem to have multiplied. People wind through the cars hurrying inside. A patient is unloaded from an ambulance. I scurry out of the way of the rushing paramedics. I scan through the lot and find my Mini Cooper wedged between two cars, and a third blocking it from the front.

Damn!

Dad must be getting impatient waiting. He had told me to be on time, and here I am already running late.

I reach into the back pocket of my jeans fishing out the car key. The sun is directly overhead, beads of perspiration make my shirt wet. I use my hand as a shield to protect my eyes and futilely attempt to locate the driver of the car blocking me from the front.

I unlock my car with the remote hoping the click of locks would alert the owner of the car to move but no such luck. It is then that I notice the car parked beside mine is not empty.

I see someone hunched over the back seat, her head leaning on the front seat, her thin fragile body shaking like a leaf in the wind. Delicate shudders pass through her as she attempts to hold herself wrapping her arms around her as sobs take over her. Long, jet black hair obscure the view of her face.

I wonder if someone she cares about is in that hospital, maybe fighting for life.

I gently tap on her window, she looks up startled. Something about her strikes me as familiar but that thought is pushed back as her large, brown eyes rimmed with red meet mine. Tears stain her fair cheeks which she quickly wipes off with her sleeve. Her nose is bright red. Yet she seems to me, a piece of art. The words, devastatingly beautiful cross my mind.

She fumbles with the door and I open it for her from the outside. She takes a breath and tumbles outside in a daze, her eyes trained on the ground, maybe embarrassed at being seen by a stranger in this state.

'Are you okay?' I ask hesitantly, feeling incredibly selfish for disturbing her.

'Yeah.' she mumbles, eyes still downcast, her hair casting shadows over her face. Her long sleeves cover half her palms and she fidgets with the end of the sleeve.

We stand there awkwardly, the silence broken by the ringing of my cell phone. Shit. Dad.

'Hello, dad. Yes, I'm coming.'

'You are saying that since the last thirty minutes! You need to put a good impression on the company employees. Punctuality is essential, son.' Dad says from the other end.

Since I had decided I was taking over his business he had started training me to mould into his position saying it's time he retired.

'Sorry, be there soon.' I apologize.

My hand places the phone in my back pocket while I look apologetically at the girl in front of me.

'I'm sorry to disturb you but that is my car...' I say pointing towards it. She follows the line of my finger and as she looks up I have a proper glimpse of her beautiful face.

I suck in my breath, 'It's you!' I say surprise making me take a step back.

She looks at me as if I have lost my mind.

'I'm Maaz, remember me?' She scrunches her forehead in concentration. 'It's alright. I'm just your father's friend's son.' I ramble, she is going through some trauma obviously and here I am saying irrelevant stuff to her.

Her.

After all these years.

It's her.

And she doesn't even seem to remember you counters my mind.

'Oh! I was just leaving anyways, I'll move out then you can slide your car out through my spot.' She says, her voice hoarse after crying. I feel my heart clench for her grief but of course she doesn't remember me and the past lies in the past and I couldn't do anything for her no matter how much I want to.

She slides into the front seat, ignites the engine and rolls down the window, 'Bye Maaz, it was nice meeting you.'

She makes an effort to smile but doesn't succeed. I memorize her heart-shaped face, her hair flying in the wind, those deep brown eyes hiding an ocean of emotions. I hear her rev the car.

And just like that she is gone.

Again.

***

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