CHAPTER 9 : BAATEIN KUCH ANSUNI SI KUCH ANKAHEE SI

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Tossing and turning in sleep was a habit .Dreams were places she would visit to collect inspirations for her stories.Sometimes it would take her to a land far far away and sometimes it took her closer to herself. Today was no different.Her notebook of creativity kept flying away higher and higher. She chased it down through the gardens of poems and the castles of fictions . It eluded her all the way to a place called Land of Dreams.
Fallen maple leaves covered the landscape like a blanket. The unfamiliar land felt suffocating despite its vastness, cloudy despite the clear sky.Unknown sea of faces around .Land far away from home felt scary and lonely. Ready to foray in all alone ,she caught him smiling at her , easing her down in an instant. With him by her side the path felt smoother. He held her hand along the rocky landscape. She smiled at him with gratitude and lost vision of the rock ahead. Her leg twisted and she was about to fall when one word escaped her mouth..
" Neil "

....and she rolled off the comfortable sofa and landed on a fluffy cloud of blankets. Opening her heavy eyelids slowly she looked around . Did she just fall off the bed or fall on the bed? ...that was the question in her mind.Rubbing her eyes she looked again in disbelief.

" Are you alright Avni ?" She could hear Neil calling out from behind. Turning around she found him on the same chair ,he had been sitting the night before.

" Did you just sleep there the whole night ?" she asked ;though his posture, sleep laden eyes and the blanket screamed in affirmation.

" I...I ..." He fumbled while searching for a more logical and less cheezy answer.

" You were awake when the lights came back ? " She was ready with another question.

" Yes" he moved his lips to answer in details but was cut off by her bullets of questions.

" Was I? "

" What? " He was still half sleepy and half dazed to understand.

" Was I asleep by then ? "she reframed her question.

" Do you remember being awake ? " his sarcasm was back up. " Obviously not.You were asleep by then."

" Yeah right " she mentally reprimanded herself for asking ridiculously obvious questions." So why didn't you wake me up then ?"

" I...I.... didn't feel like waking you up.You looked so peaceful... I mean you were sleeping so soundly ,I didn't have the heart to wake you up. "

An awkward silence followed the answer.Neil tried to look away as he felt her eyes on him.It was embarrassing enough to admit it ,he didn't have to look into her questioning eyes right now.
There were no questions in her eyes for a change.What lay there instead was admiration and adoration for the sweet gesture.She was smart enough to know that the blankets that had acted as a perfect pillowy soft landing was part of his sweet gesture.The guy she had misunderstood uncountable number of times had spent the night in an uncomfortable position to look over her.She looked away the instance he looked up ,realising she had been looking on ,for a moment too long.

"I should get going." Picking herself up , she collected her belonging scattered everywhere and headed straight for the door.
She turned the door knob to open it. Before heading out, she turned one last time to see him standing and looking her way.
"Thank you ! " She paused looking at the blankets "...for everything." She walked out with an unexpected smile plastered on her face.

___________________

Same day.
8:15pm

Avni returned home after a hectic day at work .While blindly searching for the keys to her apartment, her eyes drifted to the next door as a habit ,only to find it unusually locked. The room seemed to be dark ,as no light seeped through under the door. Her fingers landed on the keys , turning her attention back to her own abode.

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