The glass of wine jostled in his hands, a few drops spilled onto his shirt, staining his white with almost carnal drops of red. A curse slipped from his mouth; the shirt was new. His date reappeared, her stint in the bathroom over. She looked flushed, brighter and if possible, pinker. He hated blind dates. But his sister had insisted. He was too lonely, she claimed. It wasn’t like he didn’t agree with her but setting up blind dates was a tad too much. His date stared at his shirt, “Oh, no! What happened?” as he hastily tried to sit up to hide the stain. Too late.
“Nothing, just a little wine. Would you like to order dessert?” and the evening dragged along. It seemed like she couldn’t swallow her ice cream fast enough. He grew restless. He wondered if his ‘friend’, as he liked to call her, would wait up for him. He had forgotten to inform her about the little detour he was making on his way back home. Yes, detour. This was not a date. At least not as far as his opinion mattered, which his sister had bluntly pointed, did not. Thank god the woman had chosen a weekday; that spared him the obligation of a ‘after dinner walk’ to ‘know each other’. He was an expert on these trysts, side tracking humans, especially women who agreed to blind dates.
His friend often made fun of his aversion to human company to which his only successful retort was, “I talk to you, don’t I” till date. God forbid, she took offence to his words and refuse to talk anymore. The time he spent with her was the only thing he looked forward to, everyday. It was strange, how a mere game of online scrabble led to such a deep bond. He smiled at the memory of her first message on the chat box of the game after he scored a whopping 120 points by using all his tiles, “Wow, you know your words, don’t you?”. It had elicited a sheepish grin from him not because he wasn’t used to hearing compliments but because he never knew how to respond to them. Over the next rounds both had come to a decision that it was impossible to decide who was a better player. In the end, they had exchanged e-mail ids.
Looking back, he wondered why he agreed to share his e-mail id with a complete stranger. He certainly wasn’t the chatty type yet they had talked, a lot. The next morning, his disappointment knew no bounds when he realized she hadn’t actually “dropped in a line” as she had promised. He had debated with himself about sending her a mail all day, only to discard around 20 half composed e-mails. She hadn’t even played her turn on their newest game.
After almost two weeks, with absolutely no sight of her, both on the site and his inbox, he conceded to his inner desire. A simple “Hi, how have you been?” would suffice, he had decided. Instead he typed, “Where are you?” and sent it without a thought. Thank god he did. What followed was a brilliant myriad of conversation, a kaleidoscope of emotions and the utter helplessness of liking someone. All he knew was that, for the first time in his adult life, he needed a fellow human and felt needed as well.
He reached his door, with a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. Without even changing out of his stained shirt, he opened his laptop and went straight to e-mail. The “No new mail” stared at him, as if taunting his eagerness. His smile faded away.