Of course! La Manera park, on the outskirts of the city. It’s 6 p.m. already. I think I should head there, she thought, the park was located at an hour’s distance.
Finally having a lead, Tia was feeling a little hopeful, given that how messed up this case was. The destination wasn’t close but she couldn’t risk taking a cab, every second was precious, she decided she’d drive.
Not sure what she was supposed to return to this person, she decided to take an empty package along, hoping to bluff her way, through.
She quickly changed into a little professional clothing from her comfy overalls. Combed her dishevelled hair and got ready to set out.
On her way to the park, she got a call.
‘I hope you’re heading where you’re supposed to be.’
‘I reckon I am. Just keep the person safe, I’ll be there. On-time.’
‘You better be. You have what I want?’
‘Good. I’m waiting.’ and the line went dead.
Thank god, I’m on the right path! sighed Tia.
The park was a good half hour away, and she was finding it hard to keep calm.
Once close enough, she parked her car, 10 blocks away. She took the package and stepped out.
Walking stealthily, she made her way to the entrance and was shocked to see what she saw.
The beauty of nature was so enchanting that for a moment, she forgot she was on a dangerous mission. Walking in, she noticed that the most popular park of the city was deserted on this beautiful evening. Clearly, she was dealing with someone influential enough to make that happen.
She also noticed that no one was there, except her which meant that either she was early or at the wrong place, the odds of which were rather low.
The phone rang and she jumped.
‘I see you got here. Open the package.’
‘First you. Assure me of the safety of the life in danger, the package is yours.’
‘Ah, you’re not as clever as I thought you were, are you?’
‘Do you want the package or not?’
‘I don’t. You didn’t quite figure it out, did you?’
‘Look, I’ll give you what you want. I’m here. I want that person’s safety first.’
‘Well, you had your chance.’
‘Wait!!’ she spoke, her heart beat racing with time, as her chances of saving whoever was in danger blew away as the line went dead.
She kept standing, waiting for something to happen, trying hard to be in control of her emotions.
Now, the beauty of nature didn’t enchant her much, rather she had a cold feeling about her.
After a few minutes, she decided to look around and that’s when she saw the shadow approaching. It was a man, but she couldn’t see his face in the dark. He was coming closer and closer. She ran towards him as soon as she saw the face.
‘What the hell are you doing here, Michael? You need to get out of here, right now. This is no joke, you’re in grave danger right now. Leave, please leave.’ she spoke, drowned in panic.
‘the birds sang the ancient song, the final wave is coming along,
the one responsible for undoing the wrong,
should return the rose where it belongs.’ recited Michael while the colour on her face drained.
‘What the hell is going on Michael? How do you know this verse? Why are you here?’ she wasn’t sure what to believe.
‘Do you have what I want?’
‘It was you? Look, I’m in no mood for jokes. What do you think you’re doing?’
‘Do I look like I’m joking?’
She kept staring at him, words failing her.
‘Come here, sit with me.’ said Michael, as he sat on the park bench.
‘What do you want? Why am I here? Who’s life is in danger, Michael? Are you being forced to this? Tell me, I can help you. Please, Michael, if this is a joke, I’m not getting it. Please tell me what’s going on.’ She spoke in one breath.
‘The only one in need of help, is you, Tia. Now come, sit with me. Or should I say, it’d be safer if you do.’ She was barely holding herself together but she knew she couldn’t let that show. She did exactly what he said.
‘What do you have in the package?’
‘The thing you want me to return.’
‘Do you even know what I want?’
‘What has happened to you, Michael? Why are you doing this?’
‘Are you even listening to me, Tia? You only answer what I ask, nothing else. Now where was I?’
‘I don’t know what you want, but whatever it is, I’m ready to give it to you. Just tell me no one’s hurt.’
‘So you don’t know what I want. Okay, let me decode the verse for you. Then you decide, whether you can give me what I want, or not. Fair?’
‘I’m telling you, I’m ready to give you whatever you want.’
‘Ah, don’t hasten your decision. It might not be that simple.’
‘Fine, go ahead.’
‘You did decode the first line but you couldn’t get to terms with it, could you? Now this will take a moment to sink in. You have to be calm and listen carefully and not jump to conclusions.’ His voice changed, the sternness was gone and a rather calming, soothing voice, the one she fell for, was now talking to her. She took a deep breath and got ready to finally see what the mystery was all about.
‘The birds, your parents, your grandparents sang the ancient song, the wedding vows.
The final wave, the time to decide what you want with life, the time to make a commitment, is coming along. ‘
The one responsible, you, for undoing the wrong, distancing yourself from everybody, from me, whatever you may decide to make do.
Return the rose, return your heart, where it belongs, with me.’
With every rhythmic word he spoke, she realised how careless and ignorant she’s been about all her relationships, about him, about her grandma and about her friends that she lost because she never could make time for them, she always had something on her plate that needed more attention than the people she loved. She took them for granted for way too long and one day, they all left, and she could do nothing to stop them. She always knew Michael was in love with her but she wasn’t ready to make that commitment because she knew that she was too focused on her career. The realisation just made her heart fill with guilt and regret for taking everybody in her life for granted, her eyes welling up, ready to burst.
‘Now do you know what I want?’ asked Michael, after a few moments, after letting the reality sink in.
‘I’m sorry Michael, I’m really sorry. I never thought how ignorant have I been about you, about grammy, about everybody. I don’t know what to say…’
‘It’s alright, you know now and that’s what matters. You know I love you, right?’ he said, putting his arm around her.
‘Well, I’d be an idiot if I don’t. she said as tears started rolling out.
‘Now now, come here. I’m really sorry to have put you through all this drama for days. But I couldn’t have found a better way to bring you face to face with reality, don’t you agree?’
‘Dear god, you almost gave me a heart attack with those riddles of yours. But you’re right, you couldn’t have found a better way to get my attention to what has been breaking my life apart for so long.’ she punched him playfully as she rested her head on his shoulder.
‘You’ve drained yourself emotionally for far too long, it’s better you come back to us or even I wouldn’t be able to save your life.’
‘I know, I’m glad you’re the one who did it, Michael. You teamed up with Grammy on this, didn’t you?’
‘I did, and with Cassey too. I hope you still remember how beautiful a poetess your best friend is, don’t you?’
‘Cassey’s is on this too? I thought she’d never talk to me! How did you get her to do this?’
‘You know, you’re the only one who thinks people don’t want you in their life. Cassey was more than willing to bring you back.’
‘Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do.’ she smiled, tears still flowing out of her eyes.
‘So are you ready to make the commitment?’
‘I’ll need time to think about it, Michael, about the commitment you want from me. But you should know that I love you, no matter how ignorant I have been. I always knew you were the one for me. Now, it’s time for me to make up for my mistakes.’
‘Let bygones by bygones.’ said Michael, in the deep voice that was playing her all this while.
‘Oh no, you didn’t!’
‘You’re right, I didn’t. It was Adam. He just couldn’t stay out of it. He said it was way too much fun.’
‘God, you all plotted against me!’
‘I’m sorry, we did!’ and the both laughed, heartily.
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time,
Be kind to one another.
Bye Bye! 🙂
Radhika Mundra is an aspiring writer, a lifestyle blogger and an intense storyteller.