She sipped on the glass of champagne, her eyes scanning the room. Masquerade balls were never really her thing. She hated deception of any kind. Which was why she was going to tell her boyfriend that she was ending it. It was cowardly, seeing how much he loved and indulged her, but she had to. The choice of the venue was simply because she knew he couldn’t react much amid his colleagues so she was hoping for a quick escape. The only saviour was knowing what he would be dressing up as. She had seen him pick up the Victorian style black suit from the store last evening itself and this was the moment of truth. Her urgent gaze swept the room and settled on the man who had just entered the room. She closed her eyes in a prayer and straightened herself. Cocking her head to the left, she flashed him a flirtatious smile, hoping she’d caught his interest.
He saw her before she saw him. There was something about those eyes, wide and brown, not uncommon yet having a sparkle so rare that they almost begged him to rescue her from the clutches of the women surrounding her. She spotted him looking at her and rewarded him with a smile, the very smile he wanted to wake up to, every morning. He was going to tell her that he wanted to marry her, today. She was so exquisite, delicate and yet so tough and she looked so perfect in the violet gown he’d sent her. This woman had baffled him since the first day, challenging him and yet pulling him towards her. It had been a wonderful fall for both of them. There was nothing he didn’t love about her; she completed him. And she was his personal miracle maker, coming to him when he was almost in the dearths of depression after his mother’s death. The memories strengthened his resolve and the surge of emotion within him was overwhelming. He took purposeful steps towards her and reached her faster than his brain could comprehend. No sooner had he started, he was already standing in front of her, looking down at the nose dotted with tiny freckles, the nose which always crinkled when she smiled. “Would you like to dance?”, he asked. “I thought you’d never ask.”, she replied suggestively. He smiled and took her in his arms and onto the dance floor, already crowded with couples, all dressed in various shades of time and culture.
The dance had been glorious. And he’d taken the news so well that she had been very impressed. Humming to herself, she unlocked her door and walked into her living room, surprised to see him sitting there, wearing a blue suit. “What are you doing here?”, she asked, frowning at his attire, “And when did you change?” Bewildered, he replied, “Changed? I came here directly from the club. I am sorry I couldn’t make it to the party.”
Her voice was strangled, “You what? But, your suit? I saw you at…” and her voice trailed off. “Oh, that black suit? I gave it to a colleague at the party. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend tonight. Remember, the couple we bumped into at the store last week? I thought you said your gowns were exchanged.” Forcing herself to speak without fainting, she said, “Yes, she told me to keep it because she liked the red one better.”
Miles away, the man in the black suit stumbled across the parking lot, dazed and shocked. He couldn’t believe she wanted out. He had thought she loved him as much as he loved her. He was so preoccupied, he didn’t notice the car coming at him in full speed. Before he knew it, a great force knocked him and he was hurled through the sky, falling on his back on what felt like an open furnace. Just before he passed out, he heard a scream and a screech and the air smelt of burning rubber before a man shouted, “CALL 911. Katie, call 911!”
She sat on their bed, still dressed in the red gown, waiting for him to come home. It was way past midnight and Cinderella was tired and wanted to sleep. But she’d promised him that she’d wait up for him if he didn’t catch her at the ball. She looked outside the window, at the flickering stars on the sky, blanketed on a veil of black, hiding the light. The dark seemed to envelop the city and the people slept, lulled into safety while a few lay agitated and awake.